Baron and Carbonetti lay out a lucid reimagining of one of music’s most iconic legends in Paul is Dead by Image Comics.
To the well initiated, the legend of P.I.D. is something you discover early on in your Beatles education, but never has it been presented in a more glorious manner than it has in Paul is Dead: When the Beatles Lost McCartney by Paolo Baron and Ernesto Carbonetti.
With a supporting cast of Beatles mainstays like manager Brian Epstein, producer “Big George” Martin, and sound engineer Geoff Emerick, Paul is Dead transports readers back to the psychedelic Sixties and the famed Abbey Road Studios where the original “Fab Four” were writing songs for the forthcoming ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’. The story, which begins with treacherous news––that Paul is dead––swiftly spirals into a mystery as John, George, and Ringo attempt to uncover the truth about a supposed car crash that took their friend and bandmate from this world, a prospect which threatens the survival of the Beatles. Then, just as all clues point to a terrible truth, things turn trippy (as one would hope for and expect from a Sixties-era Beatles story) and bend this graphic novel into a cautionary tale that teems with heart and deep rumination on the meanings of life, success, and friendship.
“I am he…as you are he. As you are we…And we are all together.”
Yeah, it gets “I Am the Walrus” trippy!
The most striking aspect of this graphic novel has got to be Carbonetti’s artwork, which is nothing short of magical. Paul is Dead is told using a harmonious medley of bold strokes that make up the panels and an intricate, rickety linework that shapes the subjects and backgrounds within those panels. Each panel has an almost Technicolor vibe to it, and this creates a unique interplay of line, light, and color that pulls our attention into the subjects, which are oftentimes colored in darker tones, while muting the bright backgrounds without losing any of their intensity.
One other thing worth mentioning is that if you know absolutely nothing about P.I.D. and are encountering it for the first time, you will most likely find yourself a little lost, particularly at the beginning of Paul is Dead. Baron and Carbonetti assume you are “in the know” about the supposed death and replacement of Paul McCartney. Then again, if you don’t know about the time the Beatles lost McCartney, you most likely wouldn’t pick up this book from your comic book shop in the first place.
But if you do, then you’re in for a real feast for the eyes and the mind. (And perhaps the ears as you may find yourself revisiting the music to more wholly enjoy the story that unfolds.)
Paolo Baron (W), Ernesto Carbonetti (A) • Image Comics, $16.99
Review by John T. Trigonis