SOMETIMES the outsider feels an especially strong calling to fight his way into the mainstream. Brian Epstein, the pop manager, helped shape the look and feel of the Beatles while remaining a closeted gay man in 1960s Britain. And that sense of finding acceptance through the arts spoke to Vivek Tiwary, who devoted long years to turning Epstein’s inspiring story into a visual biography.
That creative result, the graphic novel “The Fifth Beatle: The Brian Epstein Story,” won Harvey Awards two years ago at Baltimore Comic-Con, and Tiwary recently announced that the Eisner-winning book is being adapted into a miniseries, with the pilot script freshly complete.
On Saturday afternoon, Tiwary will read from that script during a “Fifth Beatle” session at the Baltimore Con in the Inner Harbor. And on Saturday evening, Tiwary — no longer a comics outsider — will emcee the event’s ceremony for the Harvey Awards, which honor the year’s best in comics and sequential art.
And with each success, Tiwary never ceases to cite the power of cultural arts to build bridge not barriers.
Had he followed his parents’ wishes, for instance, Tiwary would not today be making comics, film and TV projects (he just acquired the screen rights to Dave Roman’s “Astronaut Academy” comic series) or theatrical productions (next planned: Alanis Morissette’s “Jagged Little Pill” musical). They wanted him to become a lawyer or an engineer, if not go into the family business of food-product finance.
“But I have to give my parents credit — they loved the arts,” Tiwary tells The Washington Post’s Comic Riffs. “They introduced me to the arts, taking me to everything from ballet to Broadway.” (That would plant the seed for their son to grow up to produce such Tony-winning and -nominated shows as 2004’s “A Raisin in the Sun,” starring Audra McDonald and Phylicia Rashad; “The Addams Family”; and Green Day’s “American Idiot.”)
The New York-based Tiwary has especially vivid early memories of his late mother reading comics to him, including “Tintin” — sparking a passion that would only grow.
“It’s true that my traditional Indian parents would have preferred me to choose a more stable and lucrative career than what I do,” Tiwary says, “but they were supportive” of his choice, even if nervous.
Tiwary recognized similar reactions on other parents’ faces two years ago at Comic Con India in Hyderabad. “Of all the experiences I had there, the one that stands out the most is the parent who came up to me after a presentation,” the comics creator recounts. “It was an older gentleman who said all his 13-year-old wanted to do was make cartoons.”
The parent had heard Tiwary’s success story — how a career in the arts had allowed him to follow his dreams. “So my question to you,” the man said to Tiwary, “is: ‘What can we do to help?’ It was pretty amazing.”
And now, in Baltimore, Tiwary will bring his own children to comics. “My kids, soon 8 and 5, are going to be ready,” Tiwary says. “My son [Kavi] is reading all-ages comics, and it’s fun to explain to my daughter [Nandini] how these things are made.”
“As a dad who loves this stuff,” Tiwary says, “it’s a wonderful feeling.”