Andrew Robinson, the creator of Dusty Star took on a very different project lately and Nikolai Fomich sat down to talk to him about it on behalf of Bleeding Cool.
Bleeding Cool: Andrew, this project has been a long time in the making. Tell us a bit about how you got involved with The Fifth Beatle and why.
Andrew Robinson: I signed on to the project in 2009 and have been working on it for almost four years. My friend Mark Irwin asked me if I wanted to do a Beatles project, and I said 'Hell yeah! It's the Beatles!' It was the dream of a lifetime to have such a great script and since then the book's been a great marker of my life.
I had always wanted to do a book about rock and rolls legends. I love Bill Sienkiewicz, and am a big fan of Voodoo Child, the book he did about Jimi Hendrix. It's such a beautifully illustrated book. I knew the bar had been set so high for me and I wanted to reach that level on this project.
More personally, one of my best friends committed suicide before I got onboard with The Fifth Beatle, and that made me more emotionally attached to the project, because of how Brian Epstein himself went out but did such amazing things in such a short time, between 1961-1967.
AR: Back when I was ten, my older brother had an 8-track player. He lived with us periodically, and one day he brought over Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. I didn't understand all the lyrics, but I just loved it. I loved how imaginative it sounded. Every track was a hit.
BC: Had you heard of Brian Epstein before starting the project?
AR: I had sort of heard of him. After I got the project, I started doing research and found his life fascinating.
BC: What exactly made Brian so compelling?
AR: Brian had the foresight to know that the Beatles wouldn't just be big in Liverpool, that they wouldn't just be big in England, but that they'd be big all over the world. Liverpool's not the hippest place, but it was a port town where ships would come in bringing Blues records. That's the American influence on John, George, and the rest. Brian knew how to package them. It sounds cold, but he really cared for the Beatles.
BC: How much of The Fifth Beatle involves Brian Epstein's personal life?
AR: It's there. It's a very interesting part of the story. He was very much of an outsider, dealing with personal problems. He had to hide his homosexuality in England, since you could go to jail, and was discharged by the army doctor because of it. He started taking drugs, lots of pills, while with the Beatles. There's the rumor about what happened between Brian and John in Spain – and I don't know what really happened, but it's interesting. They definitely bonded as friends, and had an openness between them.
Something really interesting was his relationship with his dad, who he always tried to impress. Early on, he had been put in charge of a record shop that was a part of his father's stores. I think he was always hoping to find the respect of his father.
AR: It was all about nailing the subtleties – the gestures on faces, depicting Brian's nervous habits. The beauty of the story is in those details. Also I wanted to make sure that visually – the fashions, the hairstyles, the settings – it was all true to the time.
BC: You both penciled and painted this project. Can you tell us a little bit about the art process?
AR: It's painted, but it's also very much mixed-media. I used watercolor, acrylics, different colored paper, collage. I really tried to bring the art to the next level.
BC: I understand Kyle Baker is also an artist on the project.
AR: Kyle did a comic intermission – an homage to the early 1960's cartoons. The Beatles go to the Philippines, and all hell breaks loose. It's sounds so crazy, as if it was made up, but who knows.
BC: How's it feel to be done now? And what can we look for from you in the future?
AR: It feels good. It was a big sacrifice, a long part of my life, but it was worth it.
Coming up, I have an eight-page black-and-white Batman story I'm working on with Jimmy Palmiotti, so I'm excited for that. And more Dusty Star will be coming soon. Right now though I'm most excited for The Fifth Beatle coming out.
The Fifth Beatle will be released November 19. Check out this video trailer featuring Andrew's art below: