Exclusive: see behind-the-scenes sketches from new Beatles graphic novel

Classic Rock can exclusively reveal behind-the-scenes sketches for a brand new graphic novel based on the classic animated Beatles movie Yellow Submarine.

The suitably psychedelic graphic novel, also titled Yellow Submarine, is being released to mark the 50th anniversary of the film and its accompanying soundtrack album. The 112-page hardback adaptation has been written and illustrated by Mad magazine editor Bill Morrison.

“Originally, the idea came up in the nineties, when Yellow Submarine had its thirtieth anniversary,” Morrison tells Classic Rock. “I did twenty-five pages, then something fell through and they told me to stop. But the project stayed on my mind, and two years ago I was contacted by Apple. I’m a big Beatles fan, so it was a dream come true.”

Morrison has shown Classic Rock some of his sketches for the novel, including images of the villainous Blue Meanies.

“If I was drawing a Spider-Man comic, I’d be drawing a lot of buildings and automobiles – things that are not a lot of fun,” says Morrison. “But Pepperland is just so free-form and fanciful. Villains are always fun – because they’re more extreme in their expressions – so I loved drawing the Blue Meanies, especially at the end, when the chief has this incredible psychedelic foliage coming out of his head.”

Most of the dialogue in the graphic novel comes from the film, but Morrison says that he had to add in extra material to move the story along.

“I’m not British, but it seems like the things I’m most fond of often seem to be British,” says Morrison. “So I pick up on the slang, and I came up with these very Beatles-sounding lines.”

Naturally, the graphic novel had to be as trippy as the original movie.  Morrison says he stayed inspired by playing Beatles music on a loop during the book’s year-long creation. He admits there were times when he wondered if hallucinogens might help him nail the film’s vibe.

“I actually did think about it,” he laughs. “The weird thing is, I never took drugs. I didn’t take drugs back in the nineties when I started, I was just very inspired by the film. So ultimately, once I started watching the film again, all that creative inspiration just flowed out… and I realised I didn’t need the LSD after all!”

The Yellow Submarine graphic novel is published on August 28 by Titan Comics, priced £26.99.

Dave Everley

Dave Everley has been writing about and occasionally humming along to music since the early 90s. During that time, he has been Deputy Editor on Kerrang! and Classic Rock, Associate Editor on Q magazine and staff writer/tea boy on Raw, not necessarily in that order. He has written for Metal Hammer, Louder, Prog, the Observer, Select, Mojo, the Evening Standard and the totally legendary Ultrakill. He is still waiting for Billy Gibbons to send him a bottle of hot sauce he was promised several years ago.