Saturday, 25 June 2011

Unsung Heroes - George Freeman

I first became aware of George Freeman's work as an inker over Paul Smith on Leave It To Chance. The fact is the majority of his work was from prior to that, throughout the 80s pencilling and inking and colouring. His inking is a forerunner of the Karl Story/Gaijin studio look, great smooth sharp brush strokes, striking areas of black. I don't think his cartooning is for everone, his lantern jaws and very stylised women, I love it! When he's inking himself where are few I like more.
His influences appear to be Golden Age comic art and I see a lot of Ditko in it too. Like Ditko inked by Frank Giacoia There are many short stories, odd inking and colour jobs since Leave it Chance but I just want to highlight the work which has spoken to me, of which there's enough.

His first comics work was on Richard Comely's Captain Canuck which I was given by a good friend. I don't know that the story stood the test of time but Freeman but you can see Freeman's foundation as a stylist clearly. He participated in most issues either finishing over layouts and colouring or drawing himself. Interesting but just the start.

His break in American comics came on a four issue Jack Of Hearts mini series with Bill Mantlo. Marvel around this time also published several George Freeman stories in Marvel Fanfare, home of recycled try out and inventory strips which are also nice! A servicable enough mini with a weird alien protagonist, I guess it's a very 80s Marvel series. Well worth a look though.

This was followed by a nice Batman/Catwoman Brave & The Bold working dominating Joe Staton (including a gag that slipped by editorial about a shoe shop called Pedo Phile)

Following a very nice strip with Peter Milligan (reprinted below), his next significant work was following P Craig Russell woking over Michael T Gilbert's layouts for Roy Thomas' scripts on Elric. The last leg of this work looks a little hurried but the examples above are from Weird Of The White Wolf #1 which is strikingly pretty!! That great First comics look that you also see on Nexus, great colours.

Batman Annual 11 contains a pitch PERFECT Batman story with Alan Moore. Similar to the best issues of the Batman Adventures. I was very happy to hear Moore also prefers this story to Killing Joke. Freeman's art gracefully leads you through a nutty Clayface's love for a shop manequin and jealousy of Batman's presence around the store.

A Secret Origin story of the Golden Age Green Lantern with Roy Thomas, complete with World Trade Fair and the prototypical "Lantern Jaw" is very well suited to his style.

Next up was a blackly comic anthology called Wasteland with comic Del Close, John Ostrander, Bill Messner Loebs, David Lloyd, Don Simpson. Freeman contributed half a dozen strips though only the one above from issue 4 managed to shine, neon lit. All the rest are very nice but kind of washed out. All round a series worth looking at if you come across it cheap or they ever finally collect it somewhere.

There was a Block Widow Marvel Graphic novel he did with Gerry Conway but artwise there are some shocking moments due to a cocktail of inkers. Not a highpoint but a curiousity.

His last significant work for the either of the two big US publishers was an 8 page strip over Stuart Immonen. He's been paired with some shockingly mediocre artist in order, I guess, to drag them up a notch but this pairing was beautiful, each page about a different Legionnaire in a different style. I would love to see more.

There are many more bits and pieces but Freeman, truth being there's probably some in everyone's collection in some shape or form; inking Tarzan, Star Wars, JLA, colouring Nexus, X-Files.

His last big body of work was a Mr Monster story of 48 pages of Mr Monster craziness. Fun enough but I want more!!!!!

Below is a stip with Peter Miligan from Pacific Comics' Vanguard 6. A classic feeling with Wally Wood and Steranko over and undertones. Enjoy.


Mark Kardwell said...

Agreed, a very under-rated artist. I've sold a lot of my back-issues over the years, but I've always held on to those I own listed above.

Will Shyne said...

Great to see. Always keen to see what pops up on your blog. I'm sure he's making real money somewhere in advertising or some such but I couldn't find any internet presence for him (just Morgan Freeman).