Turn Me On, Dead Man: A Review of Image Comics’ Paul is Dead Graphic Novel
We all know that Paul McCartney died in a fiery car crash and was replaced with the winner of a Beatles look-a-like contest. Or did he? Explore the myth and legend of the death of one of the Fab Four in Image Comics‘ new graphic novel: Paul is Dead!
Paul is Dead: When The Beatles Lost Paul
Writer: Paolo Baron
Artist: Ernesto Carbonetti
Publisher: Image Comics
Paul is Dead is a trippy narrative about the conspiracy theory that Paul of the Beatles died and was replaced by a doppelganger to prevent mass chaos from fans of the Fab Four. In November 1966, Paul gets in a fight with the other three members of the Beatles. He angrily drives off to his home, runs into a tree and is burnt to a crisp in a fiery death.
Right off the bat, I know that Paolo Baron is an unreliable narrator. Some put Paul’s death on January 7th, 1967. And he was decapitated not immolated by flames. Or maybe he was? The legend of Paul’s death has been a thing for over 50 years. And the facts of the story have changed. Or it could be that nobody really can agree on how the Beatle really died.
Just because I call writer Paolo Baron unreliable as a storyteller, that doesn’t mean that he is a bad storyteller. I had thought I knew for sure that Paul is really alive. But with the twists and turns Baron puts on this story, including experiencing an acid trip with John Lennon during a key part of tale, has got me questioning that urban legend once more. I usually hate open-ended endings. But this time around it really works.
One neat aspect of Paul is Dead is that for about most of the middle act, John, George and Ringo play detective. According to the myth, the British government covered up the death of Paul to prevent a riot (and possible plague of teenage suicides), as the UK was in the midst of albeit waning Beatlemania. To have the other members playing Holmes and Watson brought a new dynamic to this myth and I loved it. I just wish that Paul is Dead went more in that direction instead of possibly having Paul return from the dead having faked his death for the sake of some personal tranquility. But this all takes place just as John has dropped that acid I mentioned earlier, so for all we know, Lennon dreamed it all!
I was in love with the artwork. Ernesto Carbonetti uses technique of caricature and psychedelics mixed with water-color looking paints to give a drug addled view of the late 60s. Those colors in Cabonetti’s palette were so very much from the Summer of Love. Be sure to check out the artist’s process further in the sketchbook section at the end of Paul is Dead.
Now here’s where I express a little bit of frustration with this book. And it’s geared to the publisher and editing team at Image Comics. Comic books and graphic novels these days are not affordable. Not at regular price. This book is 126 pages long. But the first 9 pages are mostly either blank pages or of a rough sketch of Paul’s famous bass guitar. The last 4 or 5 pages of this book are the same way. If Image (and other publishers guilty of this sin) would stop adding such unnecessary filler to their books, you could reduce the cover price another buck or so. Instead of cutting talent, Image and company need to cut waste such as this!
Paul is Dead was an uncertain mystery that will leave you guessing until the very end. As well as days after you’ve finished it. It’s a look at a 1960s pop culture conspiracy that has spawned countless theories. Why, there was even a rebuttal from ‘Paul’ in an episode of The Simpsons, where if you play the credits backwards, the singer claims “Yes, I am very much alive!”, to the tune of ‘Maybe I’m Amazed.’ But we all know that’s fake, right?
Paul is Dead: When The Beatles Lost Paul debuts in print and digital formats on June 3rd, 2020!
Take a magical mystery tour through the legend of Paul is Dead!