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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

3.74  ·  Rating details ·  1,982 ratings  ·  294 reviews
A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

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
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Hardcover, 208 pages
Published May 8th 2012 by First Second (first published October 2010)
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Average rating 3.74  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,982 ratings  ·  294 reviews


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Start your review of Baby's in Black: Astrid Kirchherr, Stuart Sutcliffe, and The Beatles
Jo
Mar 01, 2012 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 M
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Scott
May 30, 2019 rated it liked it
"Oh, dear, what can I do? Baby's in black, and I'm feeling blue. Tell me, oh what can I do?" -- 'Baby's in Black' (Lennon / McCartney) from the Beatles For Sale LP in 1964

Sparse but also sort of stylish graphic novel depicting the love story of artist-photographer Astrid Kircherr and early Beatles bassist Stu Sutcliffe. Sutcliffe - sometimes tagged with 'The Fifth Beatle' sobriquet - toured with the then-'Fab Five' years before the worldwide Beatlemania explosion, when the young group were cutti
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Mariel
Aug 03, 2012 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
Feb 08, 2015 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 lo
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Michelle
Apr 01, 2012 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
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Lisa
Jan 25, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
description

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 b
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Lynx
Very cute graphic novel based on Stu Sutcliffe and Astrid Kirchherr's love affair and their impact on The Beatles. Check out my podcast Muses and Stuff for a more in depth look at both Astrid and Stuart.

3.5/5
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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
Paige
Apr 12, 2016 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
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Raina
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
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Jenna
Jan 30, 2014 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

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Seth T.
Mar 30, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: comics
Baby

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
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Mark
"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.
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First Second Books
Jun 01, 2012 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.
Gretchen Alice
Aug 02, 2017 rated it liked it
Baby's in Black is the sweet and simple love story between Stu Sutcliffe, the original bassist for the Beatles, and Astrid Kirchherr, a photographer and early friend of the Fab Four. The graphic novel, done in moody blacks and whites, practically spills over with youth and music and longing. I found it could have used a tad more cohesion in the story and sometimes the boys looked too much alike. However, I loved the focus on Astrid.
Helen
Oct 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Quiet and dark, with just enough detail in the panels and in the story to keep you going, fill in the lines for yourself about what Astrid and Stu's life together must have been like in Hamburg when the other boys went back to Liverpool.

Are there storylines u would have liked to have filled in a little more? Yes of course. Do I feel like the love story, which is what we're all here for anyway, loses out because we don't know those details in this particular book? No.

Quick read, well illustrate
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Tyler Kroon
Feb 08, 2018 rated it liked it
A tender, true story about Astrid, a German photographer who befriended the Beatles during their early years, influenced much of their work, and fell in love with their bass player before he left the band and passed away soon after.
Zippy
Sep 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
If you're even remotely interested in the Beatles, you'll find this bit of history interesting.
Suzanne
Jun 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
This was assigned reading for me from my 16 year old, Beatles fan daughter. The sweet, charming, hopeful and sad story of the very young Beatles in Hamburg, and especially of the relationship between Astrid Kirchherr and Stuart Sutcliffe.
Sonia
Nov 23, 2019 rated it liked it
It is hard to recognize Pete Best unless he is sitting behind the drums.
Christina (A Reader of Fictions)
Mar 02, 2012 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
Richie Partington
Jun 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
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
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Sam Quixote
This book tells the story of the relationship between Stuart Sutcliffe and Astrid Kirchher in the early 60s when the Beatles were in Hamburg and playing dingy nightclubs.

The title “Babys in Black” (despite being a Beatles song) is apt as the art is in black and white in what seems like charcoal. The effect on the page is that the panels look quite smoky to match the fact that most of the people in the panels are smoking but the book has a gloomy feel to it despite being about first love.

Also t
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Nicola Mansfield
Aug 02, 2012 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
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Kricket
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?
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Liz
Aug 21, 2012 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
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Sara Thompson
May 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
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
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Kelly
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
Sam
Jun 23, 2015 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.
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News & Interviews

As dedicated readers already know, some of the best and most innovative stories on the shelves come from the constantly evolving realm of young ad...
22 likes · 3 comments
“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.”
5 likes
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