Tiwary had his own divergent vision, though: He wanted to go into the arts. Was hungry to, in fact. And because he knew no one who could serve as a guide into entertainment, he chose his own “historical mentor” in Brian Epstein, the early Beatles manager who was so crucial in steering the band from Liverpool to the world stage.
While Tiwary was still making his professional way in the ’90s, however, both his parents died. They didn’t live to see him become a success story in the arts; he had recently begun working at Mercury Records when his mother died, in 1997. He received money from their deaths, and used that to start his own entertainment company. He would go on to produce such Tony-winning and -nominated shows as the 2004 “A Raisin in the Sun” revival (with Phylicia Rashad and Audra McDonald), “The Addams Family” and the Green Day musical “American Idiot.” But he still had a dream to tell Brian Epstein’s story.
Last weekend, Tiwary sat onstage at Hyderabad’s Comic Con India, talking about both his journey and Epstein’s. Tiwary was here because — working with artists Andrew C. Robinson and Kyle Baker — he released his passion project, the graphic novel “The Fifth Beatle” (M Press/Dark Horse), a year ago this month, and the book found popularity and acclaim ahead of its official release in India this month. “The Fifth Beatle: The Brian Epstein Story” quickly hit the New York Times bestseller list and garnered top industry prizes, including the Eisner and Harvey awards; now, Tiwary is working on turning “The Fifth Beatle” into a feature film — all part of a creative trek the author calls surreal.
Amid this success, Tiwary — who appeared this summer at the Library of Congress’s National Book Festival — hopes his story can inspire young people who hope to have careers in the arts, even if their families are steering them in other directions. In at least some small way, he wants to do what Epstein did for him.
“No dream is too impossible,” Tiwary says, “and no person is too unlikely to realize that dream.”
That is the message he took to Hyderabad, as hundreds of young Indian comics fans lined up to hear how he became a producer and comics creator. They came for a signature; they stayed for his words of hope.
“It was an overwhelmingly positive experience,” Tiwary tells Comic Riffs. “Mine is a message for anyone to hear, but particularly for young Indians. To have a chance to go back to my homeland and share that message with young Indian people is like fulfilling the message of ‘The Fifth Beatle.’
“Obviously I wanted to sell my book, but I also wanted to inspire Indian kids … ,” Tiwary continues. “I couldn’t count the number of young Indians who came up to me over the course of the weekend and said: ‘My dream is to write comics, or to act, or to play music, and my parents [aren’t encouraging].’ ”
Tiwary doesn’t dismiss the practical hopes and goals of these Indian parents — but he sees more. “As a dad myself, I understand why they want stable and lucrative careers [for their children] even though they’re not the fields they’re passionate about,” Tiwary says. “My dad was a doctor, and he was passionate about that, but that was not my passion.
“The fact that Brian Epstein chased his dream — this gay, Jewish man in a ’60s port town — with patience and persistence, that was very inspiring to me as a young kid of Indian origin who wanted to do something different from what was expected of him. And that’s the message I wanted to share with kids at Hyderabad,” says Tiwary, noting that this is only the second year of this city’s comics convention — a three-day event that he says is already heartily embraced.
After Tiwary spoke, a father and 12-year-old boy came up to him. “My son likes to draw comics all the time, and wants to do that [professionally,” Tiwary recounts the father as saying. “Because of you, and what you said, we’re going to let him do it.”
“That alone,” Tiwary says, “made the trip meaningful.”