Fragment of Gibson's comic from the Magical Mystery Tour record sleeve

Bob Gibson was a British caricaturist and designer, best remembered for his association with The Beatles. He published in their fanzine, The Beatles Monthly, and provided the caricatures and text comic found in the sleeve of their album 'Magical Mystery Tour' (1967). Along with Klaus Voormann, Heinz Edelmann and Alan Aldridge, he was one of the few graphic artists privileged to create official artwork for The Beatles.

The Beatles by Bob Gibson (1964)
1964 drawing of The Beatles by Bob Gibson

Bob Gibson was born in 1938. His career took off in 1963 when The Beatles became a national sensation in the United Kingdom. On 1 August 1963 the first issue of the official monthly fan magazine The Beatles Book was published. Gibson designed its white-lettered logo as well as the headings of the publication's columns, among them the readers' section 'Letters from Beatle People' and 'Beatle Pen Pals' and background information about the group in 'Beatle News', 'Behind the Spotlight' and 'This Month's Beatle Song'. When the Fab Four's rivals The Rolling Stones broke through Gibson also became home cartoonist for their fanzine, The Rolling Stones Monthly.

Headers for The Beatles Book Headers for The Beatles Book
Headers for The Beatles Book

In 1967 The Beatles released a TV film, 'Magical Mystery Tour' (1967). The picture was their first movie project since the theatrical releases 'A Hard Day's Night' (1964) and 'Help!' (1965). It follows a very loose plot line in which the musicians travel the countryside by bus. Along the way they meet several odd people, among them the comedy musicians The Bonzo Dog Band. The film is full of surreal musical music videos and equally strange scenes, inspired by John, Paul, George and Ringo's love for the radio comedians The Goons. At the time 'Magical Mystery Tour' was the Beatles' first huge flop. The film was made in colour, but when it premiered on BBC 1 on 26 December 1967 it was broadcast in black-and-white, which made it lose a lot of its power. Audiences and critics felt that the plot went nowhere and criticized its improvisational, nonsensical nature. As time went by the picture eventually did receive a cult following. The members of Monty Python cited it as an inspiration for their own brand of absurd comedy. Today, 'Magical Mystery Tour' has been revalued as a charming and unpredictable road movie. Beatles-related tourism in Liverpool today is still done with a touring guide bus made to resemble the vehicle used in the film.

Magical Mystery Tour by Bob Gibson

While 'Magical Mystery Tour' was badly received at the time its soundtrack album was nevertheless an international best-seller. It contains hit singles like 'Magical Mystery Tour', 'The Fool on the Hill', 'I Am the Walrus', 'Strawberry Fields Forever', 'Penny Lane', 'Hello Goodbye' and 'All You Need Is Love'. Inside the record sleeve caricatures of The Beatles could be found, drawn by Bob Gibson. He also added a 6-page comic strip adaptation of the movie, drawn in a text comics format with the dialogue written beneath the images. Gibson furthermore created an advertisement page for the album, which was published in New Musical Express.

Gibson spent most of his life in Kentish Town, London. He worked with the Bronte Parsonage, Haworth, for whom he created many paintings. Several pubs in Kentish Town still sport caricatures of his hand on their walls. In 2010 Gibson passed away from cancer. His work was a huge influence on Dutch cartoonist Piet Schreuders.

Magical Mystery Tour poster by Bob Gibson

Series and books by Bob Gibson in stock in the Lambiek Webshop:

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