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The psychedelic beauty of The Beatles’ ‘Yellow Submarine’ trading cards

I had four #3s, two #64s and a shitload of odds and evens in between but not enough to have a full house or anywhere near a complete run of Beatles’ Yellow Submarine trading cards. My brother was the real collector. I was just accessorizing. He was dedicated. I was too young. He almost had a whole set but was missing a #8, a #14 and two others which I now forget. No one else seemed to have these either which made the fun of collecting such fabulous, brightly colored cards seem ultimately pointless, like reading a murder mystery with the final chapter missing. My brother didn’t care whodunnit?—he just wanted to have something our father thought was “bad.” According to him, the Beatles were drug-addled, long-haired beatnik communists—he’d even heard they sang about wanting to be back in the U.S.S.R.

The Fab Four were not the kind of “heroes” the old man wanted us to admire. That kind of respect was meant for the likes of Don Bosco or Jean-Baptiste Vianney. I couldn’t see why we couldn’t have both? My brother never did get the full set. A year or two later, the old man, in one of his rages, ripped every one of these cards into itsy-bitsy pieces—just to let us know exactly what he thought about our “rock ‘n’ roll.” By then, it was Glam Rock and Heavy Metal. The Beatles were oldhat.

In 1968, Anglo released 66 Yellow Submarine trading cards. They were sold in a variety of four different packs—one for each of The Beatles. Today one of these cards can fetch a minimum of five bucks right up to a max. of around $250. A whole set won’t give you much change from $2,500 (£1,800). So, our old man was really ripping up the family inheritance all those years ago. And though he feared the influence of the free-living Beatles he had no clue what threat lurked in our predilection for Black Sabbath and Dennis Wheatley novels.

I never saw the film until a decade later when it cropped up on TV one long summer evening. It seemed overly arch. A film to be appreciated by an older in-the-know audience rather than little kids looking for a psychedelic sugar rush. Though I’ve tried to gather the whole 66 cards together, there are a still few missing—mainly the early numbers like #6, #8, #10 and #12. Thereafter, they just run in order to the end.
More ‘Yellow Submarine’ trading cards, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Red Meanies, Blue Meanies: The Cold War roots of the Beatles’ ‘Yellow Submarine’

Yellow Submarine is such a brilliantly fun movie experience and so perfectly in the Beatles’ mass culture, mind-evolving spirit that it takes an effort to recall that the Beatles themselves didn’t really have very much to do with it. It says a lot, perhaps, about the strength of the Beatles brand at that time that Yellow Submarine could work so splendidly, even with most of the artists involved being forced to intuit what jokes and artworks constituted an acceptably “Beatles” and “fun” sort of thing. Not much doubt that they succeeded, eh?

The man in charge of the operation was a Czechoslovak-born German named Heinz Edelmann, an artist with a wide portfolio who seems to have become somewhat chagrined at always being thought of as the “Yellow Submarine guy”—that is, unless Peter Max (who was never involved with the movie in any way) was being called the “Yellow Submarine guy” in his stead!

Heinz Edelmann
In 1993 Edelmann consented to appear on Baltimore’s Best 21st Century Radio hosted by Bob Hieronimus, a fervent admirer of the movie.

Edelmann explained that he was contacted for the Yellow Submarine project by Charlie Jenkins, the art director in charge of the special effects who was responsible for the glorious “Eleanor Rigby” section of the movie, among other sequences. He also pointed out that Yellow Submarine did not represent the first attempt to “do” the Beatles in animation. Starting in 1965 there were also the series of short cartoons that made up the Beatles TV series. and in fact the producer and director of Yellow Submarine, Al Brodax and George Dunning, had also worked on the more rudimentary television shorts.

Things were moving so fast, Edelmann pointed out, that when the TV series was being made, the Beatles were primarily thought of as a Liverpool phenomenon, with the plots staying more or less true to that, but by 1968, when Yellow Submarine was released, that was no longer the case, they belonged to the world, and the tone had to be more universal.

That may explain one of the more intriguing false pathways the movie might have gone down—but didn’t. According to Edelmann, as hard as it seems for such a thing to be possible, the original conception of Yellow Submarine hewed to a Cold War framework. And it actually might have stayed a Cold War allegory—but someone ran out of red paint. Here’s Edelmann:

The point, I think was, what I thought the one meaningful thing about it all was, in ‘68 this was more or less the end of the Cold War. Even in the Bond movies they gave up the KGB as the enemy and turned to self-employed villains. So, one had in ‘67, one had the feeling that (a.) the Cold War’s over, that Russia is changing. But also our world is changing with new values to which, with a new vision of the world in which the Beatles played an important part. So, the Meanies, in a way to me, represented a symbolic version of the cold war. And originally they were the Red Meanies.


And only because the assistant who came in to do the coloring, she either did not quite understand my instructions, or deliberately did not understand them, but it also could be we didn’t have enough red paint in the place. So they became the Blue Meanies.

Certainly Edelmann’s status as a German, coming from a country that was split in two by the Cold War, half of which was experiencing repression from Moscow, would have had something to do with this—because it’s really rather difficult to derive any Cold War meanings out of the Beatles’ own lyrics, which tended to focus on a specific story or else espoused an adherence to universal values. Obviously a message like “All You Need Is Lovewas in some sense about the Cold War, but—well, suffice it to say that the choice to make the movie more about intolerant conservatives and power-hungry buzzkills of all stripes was surely a wise one.

More after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Watch ‘Moon Rock,’ a 1970 psychedelic sci-fi cartoon from ‘Yellow Submarine’ animator George Dunning
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Yellow Submarine
George Dunning

While the style is certainly recognizable, the tone of George Dunning’s 1970 cartoon “Moon Rock” is a vastly different from its predecessor, Yellow Submarine. After a countdown and blast-off, our faceless astronaut lands on what appears to be the Moon, where a series of psychedelic characters are there to greet him, including a Blue Meanie-reminiscent slug-thing requesting chocolate and jelly. Interspersed with real video footage, the surreal subjects and austere setting make “Moon Rock” a product of its time without being dated. The trippy ambient music is from Ron Geesin, who also co-composed the “Atom Heart Mother” suite with Pink Floyd.

Apparently Dunning based the narrative on the notion of “lateral thinking,” a creative problem-solving concept from New Agey self-help consultant, Edward de Bono. For some frame of reference on de Bono, in 2000 he recommended sending Marmite to Israel and Palestine because he believed an unleavened bread-related zinc deficiency was exacerbating aggression in the region. Crazy? Sure, but it makes for darn good animation!

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
Yellow Submarine Vans

“In the town where I was born, lived a man who sailed to sea, and he told us of his life, with his Yellow Submarine Vans…”

As a lifelong wearer of Vans, I’m not entirely sure I’d wear these psychedelic puppies. I can appreciate them, though, as a novelty item and Vans fan.

Perhaps if one of the classic styles showcased the Blue Meanies, then I might seriously have to reconsider…

The Yellow Submarine-themed shoes are around $65 + shipping at the Vans website.


Previously on Dangerous Minds:
Mick Jagger makes his TV debut with some sensible shoes

Nick Cave and David Bowie hi-top All Stars sneakers

Footwear with bite: Fancy shoes with teeth soles

Foot Fetish: Freaky faces in old, discarded shoes

h/t Nerdcore

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Nowhere Man: Fantastic Jeremy Hillary Boob Ph.D. ‘Yellow Submarine’ toy

Photo by Scott Beale
Laughing Squid‘s Scott Beale spotted this fabulous Jeremy Hillary Boob Ph.D. action figure. Boob is the “eminent physicist, polyglot classicist, prize-winning botanist, hard-biting satirist, talented pianist, good dentist too” who joins the Beatles to fight the Blue Meanies. Usually I only go in for the authentic vintage of this kind of thing, but this is really, really well-done.

Jeremy Hillary Boob Ph.D. is from McFarlane Toys and is available for purchase on Amazon.

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
‘Yellow Submarine’ posters that will make your eyes shiver with delight

A collection of 10 different limited edition Yellow Submarine posters (in two box sets) by artist Tom Whalen are going on sale on May 29th at the Dark Hall Mansions’ website.

The posters are officially licensed from The Beatles’ Apple company and they’re stunners. They’ll probably sell faster than Kraftwerk at MOMA tickets, but scoring a set would be sweet. I’m in.

The posters release seem to be timed to coincide with the June 5th release of the newly-restored Yellow Submarine on DVD and Blu-ray. Having recently seen the restored digital version on the big screen, I can testify to its mind-altering beauty.

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
The Beatles’ classic 1968 animated feature film, ‘Yellow Submarine,’ has been restored
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Pop Culture

Yellow Submarine

“Once upon a time…or maybe twice…there was an unearthly paradise called Pepperland…”

The Beatles’ classic 1968 animated feature film, Yellow Submarine, has been restored in 4K digital resolution for the first time by Paul Rutan Jr. and his team at Triage Motion Picture Services. No automated software was used in the clean-up of the film’s restored photochemical elements. This was a job painstakingly done by hand, a single frame at a time. The absolutely stunning Yellow Submarine restoration premiered last weekend at the SXSW festival and will be coming on Blu-Ray DVD at the end of May with a new 5.1 multi-channel audio soundtrack. Seeing the film unspool on the big screen of Austin’s historic Paramount Theatre was like watching a series of moving stained glass windows.

Directed by George Dunning, and written by Lee Minoff, Al Brodax, Jack Mendelsohn and future best-selling Love Story novelist Erich Segal, Yellow Submarine, based upon the song by John Lennon and Paul McCartney, is a basically incomprehensible series of musical vignettes, groan-worthy puns and lysergically-inspired kaleidoscopic eye-candy that sees John, Paul, George and Ringo saving the world from the evil Blue Meanies.

When Yellow Submarine originally premiered in 1968, the film was regarded as an artistic marvel. With its innovative animation techniques, it represented the most technologically advanced animation work since Disney’s masterpiece, Fantasia. Inspired by the Pop Art of Andy Warhol, Peter Max and Peter Blake, art director Heinz Edelmann’s work on Yellow Submarine is now considered among the classics of animated cinema. Yellow Submarine also showcases the creative work of animation directors Robert Balser and Jack Stokes along with a team of the best animators and technical artists that money could hire. The ground-breaking animation styles included 3-D sequences and the highly detailed “rotoscoping” (tracing film frame by frame) of the celebrated “Eleanor Rigby” sequence. The production process took nearly two years and employed 40 animators and 140 technical artists.

I must say, though, as happy as I was to be one of the first people to see the restored Yellow Submarine, I couldn’t help be to think that—with all of its merits—the film is just a little bit boring. If you responded negatively to the news of the (now shelved) Yellow Submarine 3-D remake, consider that not only did the Fab Four have precious little to do with the actual making of the original film (it’s not even their own voices) but that today’s kids—your kids—won’t have the patience to sit through it. Nor will they even understand what’s being said onscreen. Yellow Submarine, I hate to say it, was ripe for a remake. Sacrilege, I know, but it’s not like I’m suggesting that they remake A Hard Day’s Night or anything!

Below, a decidedly low res version of Yellow Submarine in its entirety. This isn’t really the way to watch it, of course…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Mod Odyssey: Documentary on the making of ‘Yellow Submarine’

Fun and informative mini-documentary from 1968 on the animators and studio behind the creation of Yellow Submarine.

Plus, a trailer for Yellow Submarine, which, given its age, looks like it was shot underwater.

In recent news, Robert Zemeckis’ plan to make a 3D version of Yellow Submarine for Disney has been given the red light. It ain’t happening. Zemeckis’ last big-budget animated flick, Mars Needs Moms (dreadful title))  was a mega bomb. It took in $7 million at the box office while costing $150 million to make. Disney figured investing in another Zemeckis project was just too risky. I doubt that fans of the original Beatles’ film are shedding any tears over this turn of events. And for some of us, Yellow Submarine has always been in 3D.

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment