The “Paul is Dead” conspiracy theory is well-known in the Beatles fan community. Basically, for years, conspiracy theorists have said that the real Paul McCartney died on November 9, 1966 and was subsequently replaced by a lookie-likie. He died in a car accident they say, and they only know he’s dead because of all the clues left behind on subsequent Beatles albums. Now, who’s to say whether this bit of folklore is true—well, maybe the real Paul McCartney has repeatedly said—but, regardless of his thoughts, the rumor has continued to circulate up until the present day. Luckily for readers, this spooky and fascinating story is brought to glorious illustrated life in Paolo Baron and Ernesto Carbonetti’s beautiful graphic novel, Paul is Dead: When the Beatles Lost McCartney.

This fascinating tale will intrigue both those new and seasoned to the tale of poor Paul. It’s November 1966, and John Lennon has just received the terrible, horrible, and heartbreaking news that his musical partner, best mate, and longtime friend, Paul McCartney, has been killed in a car crash. In just a moment, John knows the Beatles cannot move on without him. But, he has to know what happened, no matter how painful. So, he enlists the help of George and Ringo to find out the truth and say goodbye to their friend. All of this is happening during the recording of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, and readers experience jumps in time as recording scenes are shown mixed amongst the modern day sleuthing of the traumatized three.

From the very beginning page, readers will be transfixed. Baron tells the story in words that are mesmerizing. I could hear the voices of the Beatles as I read his words, and I would recommend that readers unfamiliar with the band should listen to their voices (and their albums, by the way), to further intensify the realness that Baron’s words bring. The story that he creates, the dialogue he imagines makes the story seem real, that this is a graphic novel about an event that really happened.

As a perfect accompaniment to the words are Carbonetti’s illustrations. The illustrations are perfectly indicative and representative to the psychedelic 1960s. The drawings are a perfect mix of surreality and reality in a way that makes readers feel like they are floating in space. Carbonetti’s uses a spectacular and gorgeous color palette, with striking and vivid primary color scenes that highlight depth and perspective in a very unusual way. Panels flow into one another effortlessly, and full splash pages are unexpected and striking. Speech bubbles are well placed amongst the controlled chaos with beautiful and precise lettering. This is a book that begs to be looked at and studied over and over again due to the intricate illustrations contained within. I can’t think of more perfect illustrations for a book about this day in the Beatles life.

Paul is Dead: When the Beatles Lost McCartney is a spectacular work of fiction with a sneaky and surprise twist at the end. Perfectly paired story and illustrations bring this haunted conspiracy to psychedelic life for all readers to enjoy. Pick this book up and be prepared to be transported to another world, full of mystery and dripping, trippy colors. A beautiful book that will be enjoyed for years to come.

Paul is Dead: When the Beatles Lost McCartney
By Paolo Baron
Art by Ernesto Carbonetti
ISBN: 9781534316294
Genre: Nonfiction – Myths
Image Comics, 2020
Publisher Age Rating: 13+

Paul is Dead: When the Beatles Lost McCartney
By Paolo Baron
Art by Ernesto Carbonetti
ISBN: 9781534316294
Image Comics, 2020
Publisher Age Rating: 13+

Browse for more like this title
NFNT Age Recommendation: Teen (13-16), Older Teen (16-18), Adult (18+)

  • Traci

    | She/Her

    Traci has been a graphic novel selector and collections coordinator for kids and teens in libraries in Arizona and Oregon since 2005. She served as the chair of YALSA's Great Graphic Novels for Teens selection committee, and served as a member of the Great Graphic Novels for Teens blogging team. She previously coordinated the Oregon Young Adult Network’s Graphic Rave list, OYAN’s yearly list of the best graphic reads for teens. Traci is a member of ALA, YALSA, and GNCRT. And, she achieved her greatest dream ever by serving as a judge for the 2019 Eisner Awards.

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