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Another candidate for the small list of comics drawn in the groovy style (or a diluted version of the same), the first comic-book adaptation of Yellow Submarine was a single 64-page issue published by Gold Key in February 1969. Low-quality copies have been circulating for years on fan sites but there’s now a copy available here with the pages scanned at a higher resolution. Whatever the quality, the cheap paper doesn’t help the artwork, but for a cash-in this isn’t a bad adaptation. The background details don’t always keep up with Heinz Edelmann’s invention but artist José Delbo maintains the character style of the animation throughout, while the script by Paul S. Newman pads out the missing song sequences with additional japes and bad puns. I’ve seen claims that the story is based on an early draft of the film script but can’t say whether this is true or not. There are a few notable deviations from the film, however, such as additional seas—The Sea of Consumer Products, The Sea of Cinema—and an extra character, Rita the Meter Maid, who looks nothing like a British traffic warden of the 1960s.

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The last time I mentioned this comic I also referred to a more recent adaptation by Bill Morrison which had been commissioned, partly drawn then inexplicably cancelled. Morrison’s pages were superior to the Gold Key adaptation in their design and their fidelity to the animation style of the film so it’s good to see that the various licence-holders have allowed him to complete his work. The book was published by Titan for Yellow Submarine‘s 50th anniversary in 2018.

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Previously on { feuilleton }
The groovy look
The South Bank Show: The Making of Sgt Pepper
The Sea of Monsters
Tomorrow Never Knows
Yellow Submarine comic books
A splendid time is guaranteed for all
Heinz Edelmann
Please Mr. Postman
All you need is…

Jóhannssonia

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Looking around at the weekend for Jóhann Jóhannsson concerts turned up a few freely available recordings plus a two-hour mix by the composer that I hadn’t come across before. I must have about three quarters of the Jóhannsson discography on disc by now but a handful of rarities remain stubbornly out of reach. Discoveries like this help me resist the temptation to consider spending £150 on a secondhand copy of End Of Summer, a CD/DVD recording of a Jóhannsson collaboration with Hildur Gudnadóttir and Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe. Given Jóhannsson’s reputation, and that of Hildur Gudnadóttir who worked with him on other albums, I’d be surprised if some of these scarce recordings weren’t reissued eventually.

KEXP (2010).
Jóhannsson with the Acme String Quartet in a 36-minute session for the Seattle radio show. The ensemble perform five pieces which include a version of Flight From The City six years before its appearance on the Orphée album. Also two compositions that are only available on singles or compilation albums, Tu Non Mi Perderai Mai and Corpus Camera.

FatCat Podcast #66—The Miners’ Hymns live at Winter Gardens (2012).
The Miner’s Hymns was a score for a Bill Morrison documentary about the mining communities of North East England for which Jóhannsson used a range of brass instruments like those found in colliery bands. This is a live performance of the entire score by the Wordless Music Orchestra that accompanied a screening of the film in New York.

FACT Mix 527 (2015).
Linked here before, an 55-minute mix which includes a number of unsurprisingly sombre orchestral selections from Mihaly Vig, Gloria Coates and Witold Lutoslawski, together with two pieces by Meredith Monk. The latter point the way to the Monk-inflected vocalisations on the score for Arrival.

KEXP (2016).
A 50-minute session on video which includes more selections from the Orphée album. During the discussion interlude with Kevin Cole, Jóhannsson talks about his soundtrack work, including his score for Arrival.

Electronic Explorations 461 (2017).
A two-hour mix which repeats some of the FACT mix—Lutoslawski’s Funeral Music was evidently a favourite—and which also shows Jóhannsson’s sense of humour. Of all the many pieces he might have chosen by the early music historian David Munrow, the two recordings that open and close this mix are from Munrow’s unreleased score for John Boorman’s Zardoz. Then a third of the way through there’s an abrupt transition from the droning doom of Sakrifis by Mohammad to Au Suivant by Jacques Brel, a song better known to Scott Walker and Alex Harvey listeners in its Mort Schuman translation, Next.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Last and First Men

Yellow Submarine comic books

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By the time Yellow Submarine appeared on TV in the early Seventies I was already a keen viewer of anything showing the groovier side of the late Sixties. What I recall of that decade is resolutely unspectacular—I was only 7 in 1969, after all—but Swinging London as seen in the lighter films of the period, or via trace elements in TV series such as The Avengers, always looked like a fun place to be. Yellow Submarine was a concentrated dose of all the gaudiest elements of the era and immediately became one of my favourite films, probably the favourite psychedelic film until I finally got to see Performance in 1983.

This comic strip adaptation of the film is a curious cash-in from 1968 which is nonetheless better, and longer, than I expected. The writer and artist go uncredited but whoever they were they manage to flesh out the admittedly sketchy storyline and still retain the atmosphere of the film. One significant change may be the result of the timidity of the time with John Lennon’s lysergic muse, Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds being downgraded to Paul McCartney’s rather more mundane Rita the Meter Maid.

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The comic came with this poster and the whole package is now highly-sought by Beatles collectors with near mint copies going for $300. Naturally there are various copies circulating in the digital world and I shouldn’t have to tell you how to find them.

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There were plans by Dark Horse in the 1990s to produce a more faithful adaptation of the film in comic form. Bill Morrison was the artist and this would have tied-in with the film’s release on DVD in 1999. He managed 26 pages before Apple Records pulled the plug on the project which seems a shame going by the completed work. The Beatles’ back catalogue is due to be reissued soon in CD editions which will replace the shoddy 1987 versions. Expect to hear more about Yellow Submarine before the year is out.

Previously on { feuilleton }
The Sonic Assassins
A splendid time is guaranteed for all
Heinz Edelmann
Please Mr. Postman
All you need is…