Baby's in Black: Astrid Kirchherr, Stuart Sutcliffe, and The Beatles
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Baby's in Black: Astrid Kirchherr, Stuart Sutcliffe, and The Beatles

3.72 of 5 stars 3.72  ·  rating details  ·  744 ratings  ·  164 reviews
A fascinating, exhilarating portrait of the Beatles in their early years.

Meet the Beatles . . . right at the beginning of their careers. This gorgeous, high-energy graphic novel is an intimate peek into the early years of the world’s greatest rock band.

The heart of Baby’s In Black is a love story. The “fifth Beatle,” Stuart Sutcliffe, falls in love with the beautiful Astri...more
Hardcover, 208 pages
Published May 8th 2012 by First Second (first published October 1st 2010)
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I was ten, almost eleven, when I fell in love for the first time.

I was over my grandparents' house. The grown-ups were watching some grown-up film on the downstairs television, so I went upstairs with my art supplies and reams of computer paper and drew on my grandparents' bed while watching the Beatles anthology on ABC.

I can't deny that what stirred in me then--some groundswell of emotion at the sight of the Beatles in Hamburg, photographed by Astrid Kirchherr, may have been in some ways sexual...more
“Love me tender, love me true, all my dreams fulfilled. For, my darling, I love you and I always will”.

I am ambivalent towards the Beatles.
It’s not that I don’t like them, I just don’t love them.
Throughout my life I seemed to have attracted Beatles fans as best friends. It’s like they flock to me. Whether it’s my friend who knows every single world to every single song and whose mum once nearly got arrested outside one of their gigs, to the friend who has her picture up in the pub a young Mr L...more
Aug 03, 2012 Mariel rated it 3 of 5 stars Recommends it for: something important died screaming
Recommended to Mariel by: eight cans deep in the same damn seat
Black turtlenecks. That's what I've got on this. Okay, cigarettes dangling from arms that dangle from turtlenecks that are plucked out of someone's idea of 1960s European cool. Stick your arms inside the hidey hole sleeves and wait it all out. Smoke chains and hair tendrils of girl chic short 'dos and dont's of Hamburg night life in the 1960s. Hooting and clubs you aren't going to. Yawn. That's what I've got. Okay, stretch your arms over the backs of the movie theatre seat and you can't cop a fe...more
This is an absolutely gorgeous, heartbreaking book detailing the love of Stu Sutcliffe and Astrid Kirchherr. Stu was the real fifth Beatle, the original bass player of the band and best friend to one John Winston Lennon. During their time in Hamburg Stu and Astrid meet and fall in love, but this book is so much more than that. It is a tale of love, loss, friendship and a band at its beginning.

“I think of her, but she thinks only of him, and though it’s only a whim, she thinks of him…”

Astrid and...more

Baby's In Black is the true story of Stuart Sutcliffe and Astrid Kirchherr. If you haven't heard of Stuart Sutcliffe, he was in a little band called The Beatles. He was one of the original band members. The original line-up was Paul, John, George, Stuart and Pete Best(the drummer before Ringo). This was the line-up who went to play in Hamburg in the early 1960's, before they became big. This is where Stuart met a beautiful photographer named Astrid Kirchherr and they quickly fell in love and bec...more
Jenna  *Puddin Tame*
I received an advanced reader's copy through a Goodreads Giveaway

As stated, I got this gem of a book through a giveaway, and lucky me! I can't say that I would normally buy this type of book, but I would definitely be up for it after reading this one.

This book tells the story of "the fifth Beatle", long before Ringo Starr ever entered the picture. However, this isn't the story of Pete, the drummer before Ringo, this is about Stuart who played the bass before Paul took over the role. The book tak

Katie Mac
Honestly, I found myself disappointed with this book. I'm quite familiar with the story of the Beatles in Hamburg, as well as the story of Stuart and Astrid, and I was hoping that this book could expand it, show it in a new light, whatever. No? Well, that's okay; even if I didn't learn anything new, it still would have been nice to see a good, literary interpretation of my favorite people. Except that was not delivered either. Most of the characters were quite two-dimensional (with the exception...more
Before I read this book, I had only the vaguest possible awareness of Astrid Kirchherr, or even of Stuart Sutcliffe. I knew there had been some changes in the lineup of the Beatles in their early days, of course - and I knew that they had played in Germany.
I didn't realize how long they were playing in Hamburg, or the kinds of gigs they were playing.

This graphic novel (translated from its original German form) chronicles the time between October 1960 and April 1962 while the Beatles were basica...more
"Then these five musicians slowly shuffled onto the stage. No one in the crowd was paying them any attention. They were messing around and didn't seem particularly nervous before their set.

They were all dressed the same, in cheap jackets, tight flannel trousers, and high, pointy buckled shoes. They looked very odd.

The bassist made me think of James Dean. He work dark sunglasses the whole time and stood completely still on stage.

One of the other guitarists looked like he'd just turned fifteen....more
First Second Books
Jun 01, 2012 First Second Books marked it as first-second-publications
We love this book!

First love, music, The Beatles -- what more can you want out of a book? Especially when The Beatles are, as Bryan Lee O'Malley said, "the most adorable Beatles ever." Arne Bellstorf's art really brings the first days of the band to live in a charming and wonderful way.
Richie Partington
Richie’s Picks: BABY’S IN BLACK: ASTRID KIRCHHERR, STUART SUTCLIFFE, AND THE BEATLES by Arne Bellstorf, First Second, May 2012, ISBN: 978-1-59653-771-5

“And though he’ll never come back, she’s dressed in black”
-- Lennon/McCartney, “Baby’s in Black” (written about Astrid’s mourning over Stuart’s sudden death)

“’He’s got something…Something different from the others…I just wish he’d take off those sunglasses.’” (Astrid talking about Stuart.)

Anyone from my generation who was even a fraction as obsess...more
Nicola Mansfield
Reason for Reading: I love this publisher. I love graphic biographies. I love The Beatles.

The publisher's summary does a more than adequate job of describing what this book accomplishes, even to the point of telling you how it ends. Of course, this is a true story and many will know the ending before they start to read anyway, but it would be nice for them to have left that off for the few of us new to this part of The Beatles' history. I knew about Pete Best and was vaguely aware of there being...more
Christina (A Reader of Fictions)
You can probably tell that I am a huge music fan. Well, what you may not know is that I grew up a child of the 60s/70s so far as musical taste goes. Until sixth grade, I didn't really have a conception of 'modern music,' because I listened to what my parents listened to: oldies CDs and the oldies radio station, which tragically went out of business some time in high school. Although my tastes have diversified, I will always have a soft spot for music of that time period, and some of it will alwa...more
I was pretty excited to pick up this graphic novel about Stuart Sutcliffe "The Fifth Beatle", and his relationship with photographer Astrid Kirchherr. I, like almost every single other person on god's green earth, love The Beatles, and I liked the looks of the artwork. It has a very cute '60s feel, but is also very dark - probably partly in part to Astrid's love of the color black. The darkness also fits the sort of 1960s beatnik Germany setting.

What made the book fall flat for me, unfortunately...more
Sara Thompson
Wow what a sad and wonderful history. I picked Baby’s in Black because it had something to do with the Beatles (my family are huge fans). This is the story of Stuart Sutcliffe who was the original bassist for the Beatles when they started in Germany in 1960. Stuart did not consider himself a great musician but followed for the sake of his friend John Lennon. He was soon discovered by Astrid Kirchheer. They fell in love and she nurtured the artist that he was meant to be. Sadly, Stuart had an und...more
Seth Hahne
Baby's in Black by Arne Bellstrof

There's no two ways about it: adaptations of non-fictional stories are a tough beast to approach—and doubly so when the non-fictional account revolves about a tragic death. The trick, see, is the fact that anyone who's aware of history, of the story being unveiled, will know how the retelling will end. When we watched The Perfect Storm, most of us were well aware that George Clooney and Marky Mark wouldn't make it to the film's credits (save perhaps through some kind of treacle flashback montage...more
upon discovering this would be published: !!!!!!!!!!!!

upon reading: disappointing. i love the beatles and i love comics so i was hoping this would be explosively awesome and make all my dreams come true. but it was only pretty okay.

1. i love the cover art and the style of bellstorf's work. i really do. but then, reading the book, it turns out that the characters on the cover are the only characters he can draw. so almost all of the male characters look alike. i kept going "is that klaus, or stu?...more
I've never thought about the Beatles before they were "The Beatles," nor did I know about the influence of Astrid Kirchherr or the almost-a-Beatle Stuart Sutcliff. But I didn't necessarily find it a great book in and of itself -- the art was okay, but there was little character development, which made connecting to the story and the tragic turn at the end difficult. Likewise, NOT being a big Beatles fan, I didn't necessarily come to the story with enough to understand the significance of Astrid...more
I won a copy of this book through Goodreads.

This was the first graphic novel I've ever read, so I find it difficult to give it a rating out of 5 stars.

Without knowing the story of Astrid and Stuart, I found the book could be a bit difficult to follow; however, I'm not sure if that is because of the way it is written or just the graphic novel genre/style. I think if it had been written as a novel, I would have had an easier time reading (again, not because this book was written poorly, but beca...more
Mercedes Flowers
Also, if I had a dollar for every panel in which the characters are smoking, I would have 239433423 dollars.

And that's totally ok, because it's definitely part of the absolute coolness that is "Baby's in Black." I have to admit – when I first started flipping through the book, I was slightly disappointed. When I had read "graphic novel" in the description, I was not expecting the style of art that Bellstorf uses. But that disappointment was quickly dashed away upon my beginning the story.

SO well...more
This graphic novel will best serve a niche audience, one that is either interested in Kirchherr and Sutcliffe specifically, or everything that pertains to the Beatles including musicians with whom they worked before they morphed into the incredible, historical musical entity that the world knows well.

I received this graphic novel courtesy of the Goodreads first-reads program. Thank you for the book. However, if I had known how little it really had to do with the Beatles, I think I would have pas...more
Jun 05, 2012 Tessa added it
Shelves: nonfic, comics
all the smoking depicted here made my throat start to hurt. which means that I really got into the story! the Beatles look like themselves and ALSO still fit in with Bellstorf's style. this is a subtle, sad, love story that happens to have something to do with the Beatles.
Really great. I don't remember ever hearing of Stuart Sutcliffe before--very sad because my mom was a hardcore fan!--so it was really interesting to learn about him and the Beatles' early days.
Besides that, Baby's in Black is a sweet love story, told beautifully in graphic novel format. It just really works in that mix of images and words--you get a real feel for the time, place, and feelings through those black and white drawings. I could even hear the music in my head when I saw the lyrics on...more
Edward Sullivan
Love this graphic novel story about the romance between German photographer Astrid Kirchherr and the legendary "fifth Beatle," Stu Sutcliff who died in 1962. This is also a good portrait of the Beatles in Hamburg before they hit the big time.
lucy by the sea
sweet love story of original indies and the 1960s hamburg scene. I liked the tenderness and creative passion. sometimes it was abit hard to tell the blokes apart but other than that the art was lovely.
While the Beatles were in Hamburg they met and became friends with people like Astrid Kirchherr. This is the story of those early days, before the Beatles were huge. This is the story of Stuart Sutcliffe, the original bass player in the band.

I picked this book up on the recommendation of the guys at "The Beguiling." It being about the early years of the Beatles was also an incentive.

I finished it because I was interested in learning more about Stuart Sutcliffe. When I think of the Beatles, his...more
Jeremy Hillary  Boob Ph. D
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
There isn't much that everyone else hasn't said. This was a really well done book detailing the early years of the Beatles so early in fact they were playing cover songs and squatting in terrible dive bars. The story is based on the love story between Astrid and Stuart (the lost Beatle) but its when its showing the hard work and hard life that bands starting out is when it shines the most.

The only complaint that I had about the book is that it seemed as if with so much material to get through t...more
Scott Asher
Before the Beatles were the “Beatles” they were a club band playing in Germany in 1960. While playing one night Klaus hears them playing and the world changed.

Baby’s in Black
Astrid Kirchherr, Stuart Sutclffe, and The Beatles
Written & Illustrated by Arne Bellstorf
First Second
April 2012

In the 1960’s there wasn’t anyone hotter than the Beatles. Their look. Their clothes. Their hair styles. Everything about them was different and enthralling. They are the original “it” guys. This book is sheds...more
Jan 15, 2011 P.Sannie rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: graphic novel fans, Beatles fans, English speakers practicing German & vice versa
**Deutsche Kritik unter Englischen**

What I really liked about Baby's in Black is that it is a love story and it just so happens that the people involved in it are friends with the Beatles. But the story focuses on Astrid Kirchherr and Stuart Sutcliffe and their relationship.

Bellstorf's artistic style is very simple but elegant. The drawings are (I think) pencil with ink in black & white and though the characters all look the same at first glance, there are subtle differences that you can tel...more
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