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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

3.73  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,408 Ratings  ·  244 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 lo
Hardcover, 208 pages
Published May 8th 2012 by First Second (first published October 1st 2010)
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John Lennon by Pablo MaizteguiBaby's in Black by Arne BellstorfPop! London by Peter MilliganThe Fifth Beatle by Vivek J. TiwaryLos Beatles en historieta by Héctor Germán Oesterheld
The Beatles in Comics
2nd out of 18 books — 5 voters
The Complete Maus by Art SpiegelmanFun Home by Alison BechdelThe Complete Persepolis by Marjane SatrapiUnderstanding Comics by Scott McCloudBlankets by Craig Thompson
Non-Fiction Comics and Graphic Novels
96th out of 193 books — 43 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,869)
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Mar 04, 2012 Jo rated it really liked it
“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
Aug 03, 2012 Mariel rated it liked it
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
Eunice Moral
Jan 03, 2016 Eunice Moral rated it really liked it
Beautiful and Heartbreaking

That ending crushed my heart. It was nice to know this part of history that not a lot of people know about. To be completely honest I didn't know about Astrid and Stuart or the original members of The Beatles for that matter, and this is the excellent book to explain the beginning of the legendary pop icon. Their struggles as musicians and the people behind their humble beginnings. I loved the fact that this graphic novel isn't solely focused on Astrid and Stu's love
May 03, 2012 Michelle rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Michelle by: Jo
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
Jan 25, 2012 Lisa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

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
Ryn McAtee
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
Feb 07, 2014 Jenna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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

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
"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.
Seth T.
Mar 30, 2012 Seth T. rated it really liked it
Shelves: comics
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
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
Jun 24, 2012 Richie Partington rated it it was amazing
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
Nicola Mansfield
Aug 02, 2012 Nicola Mansfield rated it really liked it
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
Christina (A Reader of Fictions)
Dec 22, 2012 Christina (A Reader of Fictions) rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
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
Aug 21, 2012 Liz rated it it was ok
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
Sara Thompson
May 09, 2012 Sara Thompson rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley
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
May 14, 2012 Kricket rated it liked it
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?
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
Jenna Lee
Aug 13, 2016 Jenna Lee rated it liked it
Firstly, this is the first German book I could actually enjoy reading without any difficulty. Even though one of the reason for that is Baby's in Black is a graphic novel. A lot of pics and not so many hard words. Nevertheless I'm still pretty proud of myself. Who's not? Right?
Well, secondly, this is the first time I've ever heard of the name Stuart Sutcliffe which is actually a very famous name in the art field and famously known as "The Lost Beatle". He was the original bass guitarist for the
Apr 12, 2016 Paige rated it it was amazing

If you follow me on Tumblr or Twitter, or have had the misfortune of interacting with me on any social capacity, then you know I have an obsession with this little band called The Beatles (sorry by the way to all the people I’ve tried to push their music on).

Anyways, when I found this little graphic novel about Astrid Kirchherr and Stuart Sutcliffe (he was the original Beatles bass player and Astrid was his fiancee/the one who inspired a lot of the Beatles’ early looks and a kick ass photographe
Jan 11, 2015 Lisa rated it it was ok
I ordered this book on Amazon, and didn't realize it was actually a-- well, I'd call it a comic book, although just under 200 pages, but I suppose it's really called a "graphic novel".

Mainly it tells the story of Astrid Kirchherr, Stuart Sutcliffe, and the Beatles. If you did not know much about these people already, you'd probably be somewhat lost in this story. However, I have read many books about all the people involved so I could follow it. The Beatles, before they became famous outside of
Matthew Hundley
Aug 10, 2014 Matthew Hundley rated it it was amazing
You don't think of the Beatles as human. As young men who were once stuck playing dive bars in Germany. We often forget as well drummer Pete Best; and especially bassist Stu Sutcliffe.

This graphic novel was created under the guidance of Astrid Kirchherr who was a life-long friend of the Beatles and is responsible for many of the early photographs of the band. She also had an influence on their style.

This book centers on the relationship between Astrid and Stu.

Another character who comes into pla
Mar 23, 2014 Ashley rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads
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
Jul 18, 2016 Liz rated it liked it
Shelves: graphic-novel
Baby’s in Black is told from the point of view of Astrid Kirchherr, a German photographer who befriended the Beatles in their early years, before they hit it big. The story focuses primarily on the romance between Kirchherr and Stuart Sutcliffe, the “Fifth” Beatles member, while the band was playing in Hamburg in 1960.

I can only approach this graphic novel in review from the angle of someone who likes the music, but isn’t a serious fan. This biography showed me just how little I know about the
Natalie (weneedhunny)
I have very limited knowledge of The Beatles, and I didn't even know about Astrid Kirchherr before reading this book. Basically, for that purpose, it was a nice sort of introduction to people I knew little of. I will say it sparked my interest enough for me to want to explore The Beatles - if not for their music, then for their iconic presence. Aside from the story, I love the idea of a memoir in a graphic novel format. And I really like Arne Bellstorf's art style, it's quite inspirational to me ...more
4 stars because I'm partial towards The Beatles. <3

As a Beatles fan, it is very exciting to read the chronicle of "pre-Beatles" era (okay, maybe more like the "German era") being told in graphic novel format. The book focuses on Stuart and Astrid's story so some details - like the Beatles' conflict with the club owner's in Germany, for example - is not explored too deep.
Oct 21, 2015 Samantha rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: Beatles fans
I liked the art. But graphic novels need to have a good balance of dialogue and illustration telling the story and I thought there was too much dialogue and not enough illustration. It was also kind of hard for me to tell the men apart. I found the story to be informative about the Beatle's early career but otherwise kind of boring.
Donna Davis
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
Nov 13, 2014 P. rated it liked it
Shelves: comics, nonfic
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.
Linda Patrick
Aug 21, 2016 Linda Patrick rated it really liked it
Just when you think you've made peace with your era, something comes along and makes you excited about the nostalgic past. If there was ever a time when I wanted to wear black turtlenecks and rock a 60's bob, it is now, after reading Baby's In Black.
The graphic novel is framed around the relationship between The Beatles famous early photographer, Astrid Kirchherr and the fifth Beatle Stuart Sutcliffe who fell madly in love. The story gives the reader a look into the early lives of the young Beat
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“You know I wanna stay with you, right? I mean forever... we agree on that, right?

Are you crazy, Stuart?

No, I'm in love... but maybe that's the same thing.”
More quotes…