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 cult 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. 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.

Yellow Submarine
Since Edelmann was such a trendy artist, he was asked by British film director George Dunning to participate with a new film starring The Beatles. This would be their third picture since Richard Lester's live-action films 'A Hard Day's Night' (1964) and 'Help!' (1965). Dunning had the idea of making a feature-length animated film with musical segments set to Beatles songs. He asked the band members to voice their own characters, but the Fab Four weren't really interested. They had been adapted into a cartoon TV series before, 'The Beatles' (1965-1969), with Jack Mendelsohn as scriptwriter. Produced by the American network ABC, these cartoons were very low-budget. Not only was the animation crude, but the Beatles themselves were simplified into caricatures of their public persona and voiced by American actors unable to do a convincing Liverpudlian accent. Apart from the musical segments - which were actual Beatles songs - John, Paul, George and Ringo had nothing to do with it. They hated these cartoons so much that they downright refused an offer from Walt Disney to appear as vultures in his animated film 'The Jungle Book' (1967), left alone write music for it. Disney solved the matter by having actors imitate their voices. The Sherman Brothers also composed a Beatlesque barbershop quartet song, 'We Are Friends', for the film. 


Illustration for Twen magazine.

Dunning hired some people who'd worked on the ABC 'Beatles' cartoon series, including scriptwriter Jack Mendelsohn and voice actor Lance Percival (who voiced Paul and Ringo on the TV series, but Old Fred in 'Yellow Submarine'). But otherwise he wanted to distance himself completely from the ABC adaptations.  Since The Beatles had completely changed their public image by 1967, the task was made much easier for him. Dunning's film, titled 'Yellow Submarine', was strongly influenced by the band's album 'Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band' (1967), particularly the record cover, sleeve and psychedelic songs. Heinz Edelmann was asked to design all the characters. He depicted The Beatles wearing military uniforms, like they appear on the cover. Various backgrounds were inspired by the photographic cut-outs on the sleeve. Edelmann also designed the villainous Blue Meanies and the odd creature Jeremy - who was inspired by Flook from Wally Fawkes' comic strip 'Flook'.

Dunning and Edelmann envisioned 'Yellow Submarine' as a musical adventure. In the film, The Beatles travel to Pepperland with a yellow submarine to save a strange country named Pepperland from the overly negative Blue Meanies. Several scenes feature highly imaginative backgrounds, strobophobic effects, trippy visuals and strange creatures, all set to Beatles' music. However, the Fab Four were voiced by actors. John Clive (who later played the man who beats Alex up on stage in the 1971 movie 'A Clockwork Orange') voiced John. Peter Batten played George, Paul Angelis Ringo and Geoffrey Hughes (who'd later play Onslow in the TV sitcom 'Keeping Up Appearances') took the part of Paul. Only when the group members saw the first rushes, they became more eager to participate. Since the film was practically finished at that point, the real John, Paul, George and Ringo only have a brief live-action cameo near the end. Among the animators who worked on the film 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 by Heinz Edelmann
'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. Initially, 'Yellow Submarine' received mixed reviews. Stylistically it was a complete break from traditional animated films. The narrative is thin, putting most of the emphasis on dazzling visuals, witty jokes and The Beatles' songs. There is no regard for continuity, perspective or realism. The Blue Meanies, for instance, have six fingers on one hand and seven on the other. Everything has a loose feel. The animation is combined with photographic cut-outs, live-action stock footage and trippy effects. Although 'Yellow Submarine' is child friendly, the plot is not sentimental, but instead very ironic. As such, the picture also appealed to young adults and developed a cult following. Today, 'Yellow Submarine' is regarded as a highlight during a particular uncreative era of animation, called the 'Dark Age of Animation' (1960-1988).  

'Yellow Submarine' had a strong influence on Terry Gilliam's surreal cut-and-paste cartoons for Monty Python, 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 and Sally Cruikshank. 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 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 animation 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.

Later graphic career
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!
In 2004 Edelmann published a graphic novel, 'The Incredible!', which the back cover describes as follows: "German illustrator Heinz Edelmann, born in 1934, refuses to take part in the twenty-first century. He lives in 1999, indefinitely. In his graphic novel 'The Incredible', Edelmann records bombs dropping and media battles raging, unaware of their political or economic reason, and all in what might have passed for a breezy style circa 1955." 

Death
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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