Comic strip for the German magazine Der Manager (1980s).

Heinz Edelmann was a Czech-German artist, most famous for his psychedelic illustrations. He livened up the pages of various books, TV opening credits and magazine articles. In 2004 he published a graphic novel, 'The Incredible!' (2004). However, despite his prolific career, he remains most famous as the graphic designer of George Dunning's animated film 'Yellow Submarine' (1968), starring The Beatles. Along with Klaus Voormann, Bob Gibson and Alan Aldridge, he was one of the few graphic artists to be privileged to create official artwork for The Fab Four. Thanks to its inventive visual style, 'Yellow Submarine' became a cult classic and one of the most influential animated pictures of all time. Edelmann's work has been exhibited in Europe, the U.S. and Japan. 

Early life and career
Heinz Edelmann was born in 1934 in Ústi nad Labem, Czechoslovakia, as a child of Czech-German parents. From 1953 on he studied printmaking at the Kunstakademie of Düsseldorf. After his graduation in 1958, he worked as a freelance illustrator and designer, creating posters for Westdeutscher Rundfunk and Klett-Cola. From 1961 on, he published in the youth magazine Twen and also provided graphics for Playboy, Capital, Pardon and FAZ-Magazin. His colourful, fluid and stylized illustration work was strongly inspired by Art Nouveau and perfectly appealed to the psychedelica craze of the 1960s. In 1966 Edelmann made animated cartoons for the TV series 'Schaumagazin' on the German TV network WDR.

Illustration for Twen magazine.

Yellow Submarine
In 1968, Edelmann was approached by British film director George Dunning to work on a new film starring The Beatles. The group had already played themselves in two live-action films, 'A Hard Day's Night' (1964) and 'Help!' (1965), both directed by Richard Lester. While these films were box office hits, their surreal TV movie 'Magical Mystery Tour' (1967) was badly received by critics and audiences. As such, the group wasn't keen on being on a set again for several months. An animated feature would therefore be a perfect solution. Dunning envisioned an animated musical, set to familiar Beatles hits. The film would be named 'Yellow Submarine', after the group's 1966 hit. Dunning hired Jack Mendelsohn, who was scriptwriter on the animated TV series 'The Beatles' (1965-1969), produced by ABC. This TV show featured John, Paul, George and Ringo enjoying child-like slapstick adventures, with Beatles songs as intermezzos. However, the Beatles were voiced by actors, one of them Lance Percival, who did both Paul and Ringo, and would later play the character Old Fred in 'Yellow Submarine'. While the show was the first attempt to feature The Beatles as animated characters, the real-life Beatles hated the program. The animation was very low-budget, the voice actors' impressions unconvincing and their personalities simplified to infantile caricatures. The Fab Four therefore refused to lend their voices to Dunning's project. Even when Walt Disney asked them to voice a group of singing vultures in his animated feature 'The Jungle Book' (1967), the group rejected the offer firmly. Disney solved the matter by having actors imitate their voices, while his songwriter-composer duo The Sherman Brothers composed a Beatlesque barbershop quartet song, 'We Are Friends', for the film. 

While the Beatles didn't want to record voice acting parts, they did write four new songs for Dunning's picture: 'All Together Now', 'Only A Northern Song', 'Hey Bulldog' and 'It's All Too Much', while their producer George Martin composed an orchestral score. To play the Beatles, Dunning used voice actors: Peter Batten (George), Paul Angelis (Ringo), John Clive (John) and Geoffrey Hughes (Paul). Clive would later also play the man who beats up Alex on stage in Stanley Kubrick's 'A Clockwork Orange' (1971), while Hughes gained fame as the sleazy character Onslow in the TV sitcom 'Keeping Up Appearances' (1990-1995). 

Although Dunning brought in Mendelsohn and Percival from the Beatles' animated TV series, he otherwise wanted to distance 'Yellow Submarine' as far as possible from this TV show. Time was at his side, because by 1968 the Beatles had already changed their public image. They no longer appeared in identical moptop haircuts, fancy suits and Beatle boots. Instead they had grown their facial hair and wore more individualistic clothing. Musically, their sound had become more psychedelic, as evident on their bestselling record 'Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band' (1967). Edelmann was instructed to model the Beatles and various side characters after this latter album's sleeve. Some were inspired by the photographic collage on the album cover. Edelmann also designed the film's antagonists - the Blue Meanies - and the odd creature Jeremy the Boob, who was inspired by Flook from Wally Fawkes' comic strip 'Flook'. Among the animators who worked on 'Yellow Submarine' were Greg Irons, Norm Drew, Brian Lewis, Jack Stokes, Paul Driessen, Robert Balser and Gerald Potterton. Potterton would later direct the animated cult classic 'Heavy Metal' (1981), for which Balser was also an animator.

'Yellow Submarine' follows a loose narrative, where The Beatles travel to a strange country named Pepperland to save its citizens from the depressing influence of the overly negative Blue Meanies. Several scenes feature highly imaginative backgrounds and side characters, with trippy visuals and strobophobic effects to top it all off.  Musical segments like 'Eleanor Rigby', 'Nowhere Man', 'Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds' and 'It's All Too Much' in particular are regarded as impressive audio-visual achievements. When the real-life Beatles saw the first rushes, they were pleasantly surprised and more eager to participate. However, since the film was practically finished at that point, they had to be satisfied with a brief live-action cameo near the end. 

Yellow Submarine by Heinz Edelmann
'Yellow Submarine' illustration by Heinz Edelman. 

Yellow Submarine: reception and cultural impact
'Yellow Submarine' (1968) opened as the second British animated feature film in history, after John Halas and Joy Batchelor's 'Animal Farm' (1954). It was distributed by United Artists and King Features. Thanks to the Beatles' global popularity, the picture did well at the box office. However, at the time it received mixed reviews. The film premiered during an era when many of the classic Hollywood animation studios either went out of business, or shifted their production to television. Many cartoons of the 1960s were hampered by low budgets, lacking the lavish production values of the Golden Era (1930-1960). Storywise, they only rehashed straightforward child friendly tales. 'Yellow Submarine' therefore surprised many viewers. Everything in the film has a loose feel. There is no regard for continuity, perspective or realism. The Blue Meanies, for instance, sometimes have six fingers on one hand and seven on the other. The thin plot is only an excuse to show off inventive visual ideas, given an extra kick by the groovy soundtrack. Traditional animation is combined with live-action footage, photographic cut-outs and trippy effects. Edelmann's designs gave the picture a strong, individualistic and contemporary look that perfectly captured the psychedelic era. At the time, many viewers didn't know what to think of it, but 'Yellow Submarine' quickly developed a cult following. It appealed as much to youngsters as to children. 

'Yellow Submarine' is widely regarded as a highlight during a particular uncreative era of animation, the 'Dark Age of Animation' (1960-1988). It had a strong influence on Terry Gilliam's surreal cut-and-paste cartoons for Monty Python. It also inspired the animated intermezzos in educational children's shows like 'Sesame Street' (1969), 'The Electric Company' (1971-1977) and 'Schoolhouse Rock!' (1973-2009), Cal Schenkel's animated short in Frank Zappa's '200 Motels' (1971), Alan Aldridge's 'The Butterfly Ball' music video set to Roger Glover's hit 'Love Is All' (1975), Stephen Hillenburg's 'SpongeBob Squarepants' and the overall work of Ralph Bakshi, Sally CruikshankNina Paley and Everett Peck. When Mark Hamill had to voice the Joker in the animated TV series 'Batman: The Animated Series' (1992-1995), he based his performance partially on the Head Blue Meanie from 'Yellow Submarine'. Matt Groening paid homage to 'Yellow Submarine' in The Simpsons episode 'Last Exit to Springfield' (1993) when Lisa is under narcosis at the dentist. In a 'Powerpuff Girls' episode 'Meet the Beat-alls' (2001) by Craig McCracken, the characters from 'Yellow Submarine' also make an appearance, while Blue Meanies and the Glove also appear in the 'South Park' trilogy 'Imaginationland' (2008) by Trey Parker and Matt Stone.

In 2009, the Disney Corporation considered a CGI remake of 'Yellow Submarine', directed by Robert Zemeckis, but the project was abandoned after Zemeckis' similar CGI-animated 'A Christmas Carol' (2009) film underperformed at the box office. In hindsight, Zemeckis wasn't too saddened, since he felt it would be difficult to top the original 1968 movie. 

Still from 'Yellow Submarine'. 

Yellow Submarine: Comics
In 1968, 'Yellow Submarine' was also adapted into an official comic book for Gold Key Comics, drawn by José Delbo. In 1969 Edelmann additionally co-illustrated 'The Beatles' Illustrated Lyrics' among several other artists, including its main author Alan Aldridge. In 2018 another 'Yellow Submarine' comic book was released by Titan Comics, drawn by Bill Morrison

Illustrations with sequential sequence for Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.

Academic career
While 'Yellow Submarine' increased Edelmann's notability, he didn't like being pigeonholed as "Beatles designer". He drastically changed his style and chose for a lower profile as a teacher in industrial design at the Fachhochschule in Düsseldorf (1972-1976). He later lectured in art and design at a similar school in Köln (1976-1979). He also spent some years in the Netherlands, teaching at the Free Academy of Visual Art (1971-1972) and the Royal Academy of Fine Arts (1979-1981) in The Hague. In 1989 Edelmann also became professor of illustration at the State Academy of Fine Arts in Stuttgart. 

Later graphic career
Still, Edelmann didn't abandon animation. He designed the animated opening credits of the weekly late-night movie show 'Der phantastische Film' (1970) on the German public channel ZDF, as well as an animated film set to the song 'The Girl from Ipanema' by Antonio Carlos Jobim and Astrud Gilberto. Edelmann also remained active as a book illustrator for fantasy and SF novels such as 'Andromedar SR1', 'Lord of the Rings' and 'Wind in the Willows'. During the 1980s and early 1990, he illustrated visual essays and made satirical cartoons and illustrations for the Sunday editions of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung and other German magazines. In 1989 he became professor of illustration at the State Academy of Fine Arts in Stuttgart. He also designed the official mascot of the World's Fair of Seville (1992): 'Curro'.

'The Incredible' (2004).

The Incredible!
In 2004 Edelmann published a graphic novel, 'The Incredible!', which can be described as a series of loosely connected surreal cartoons and comics, revolving around a supposed remarkable savior named "The Incredible", who will rescue mankind. The novel offers satirical commentary on the War on Terror, more specifically U.S. President George Bush Jr.'s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the search for terrorist Osama bin Laden. It also deals with existentialist themes and nods to Jean-Paul Sartre, Friedrich Nietzsche and Ludwig Wittgenstein.

Heinz Edelmann died in 2009 in Stuttgart from heart failure. He was 79. 

Kathrinchen ging spazieren
Illustrations for the children's book 'Kathrinchen ging spazieren' by Peter Hacks.

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