Best of the Year: John Freeman

Published On December 23, 2010 | By Joe Gordon | Best of the Year 2009, Books, Comics, Film TV & Theatre

Today’s guest Best of the Year selection comes from a very well known face in the Brit comics community – writer, editor (working on several new projects as we speak), blogger and, on odd weekends, tenth-level Ecky-Thump Master, it’s John Freeman:

FPI: Can you pick three comics/webcomics/graphic novels which you especially enjoyed over the last twelve months and tell us why you singled them out?

(cover to The Rainbow Orchid Volume 2 by and (c) Garen Ewing, published Egmont)

John: A lot of my comics reading is focused on projects I’m working on, and I can’t really count those, can I? Most of my comics reading is very scattergun – I tend to ‘dip’ into comics like 2000AD and The Dandy for different reasons – but I did enjoy Rainbow Orchid 2 by Garen Ewing, the finale of The Chimpanzee Complex (even if it was totally bonkers and made no sense!) and I’ve been catching up on Largo Winch, also published by Cinebook.

(cover to Chimpanzee Complex Volume 3: Civilisation by Richard Marazano and Jean-Michel Ponzio, published Cinebook)

Small press wise, Tom Humberstone’s Solipsistic Pop just blew me away with its latest volume and I really liked Darryl Cunningham’s Psychiatric Tales, which handled some difficult subjects very well.

(cover art to UK edition of Psychiatric Tales by and (c) Darryl Cunningham, published  Blank Slate Books/US edition from Bloomsbury)

FPI: Can you pick three books which you especially enjoyed over the last twelve months and tell us why you singled them out?

John: Much of my reading time is taken up with reviewing Star Trek books for Star Trek Magazine – but outside of those, it’s frustrating for me that Pyr Books aren’t very well distributed in the UK. They have some great authors, particularly James Enge, whose latest fantasy, The Wolf Age came out recently and is knockout. (If you haven’t read any of his work, check out Blood of Ambrose, which was released a while back). Pyr have issued a free novelette by him as a taster in ePub format which you can download from.

(cover to Wolf Age by and (c) James Enge, published Pyr)

I really enjoyed Blackout by Connie Willis – another of her edge-of-the-seat time travel tales; I’m hoping All Clear, which concludes that story, will be in my Christmas stocking, even if I have to buy it myself.

FPI: Can you pick three TV shows and/or movies which you especially enjoyed over the last twelve months and tell us why you singled them out?

John: TV-wise it’s been a really mixed year. I started to enjoy Stargate Universe but they now seem to be off chasing God like Battlestar Galactica and it’s gone off the boil for me. Warehouse 13 has had its moments but has begun to get a bit silly. I enjoy Merlin for the tea time drama that it is. Matt Smith had some good moments in Doctor Who but script-wise, things were often a mess. Sherlock started well but again tried to throw too many things into the mix and it got kind of messy. For me, some of the repeats of wartime drama Colditz were standout – great characters, great stories and far from the ‘escape of the week’ it was described as.

Films: How to Paint Your Dragon was just ace. I’ve yet to see Toy Story 3 – I’m afraid I’d probably kill some mobile tapping teenager if I went to the cinema these days so I’m not the best person to ask about new movies. Iron Man 2 was a disappointment. I finally saw Moon and District 9 recently and enjoyed them both, but again, I suppose they don’t count.

FPI: How did 2010 go for you as a creator? Are you happy with the way you got your work out this year?

John: It’s been exciting, creatively but frustrating in terms of the uphill struggle getting things working on my new project, Print Media Productions.¬† Right now, our first book, Iron Moon by Stephen Walsh and Keith Page, is somewhere in France, stuck on a snowbound lorry I suspect.

STRIP Magazine is coming together well – there’s just some administrative stuff that is hampering moving it along the way I’d like, which should all be resolved by the tim you run this. I’ve enjoyed writing comic strip and working directly with a number of creative people and ROK is rolling out an iPhone app program for key creators who worked on that program a couple of years ago, which will hopefully be a success.

The mobile phone subscription service in India has been a commercial success, certainly for the Indian publishers with comic strips featured on it.

FPI: What can we look forward to from you in 2011?

John: STRIP Magazine (launch date to be confirmed, but early in the year) with strips from a variety of creators Check the STRIP Magazine web site for the latest news. What’s in so far looks terrific. We should have at least one new graphic album a month from March onwards from Print Media Productions, starting with Book One of Mirabilis by Dave Morris and Leo Hartas. Because of the sheer size of the story, we’re splitting the first tale, ‘Winter’ over two volumes of 112 pages each. Dave and Leo are also bringing it out on iPad.

(cover art for Iron Moon by Stephen Walsh and Keith Page, published Print Media)

FPI: Anyone you think is a name we should be watching out for next year?

John: Crumbs. I can’t really single out one creator, but I am looking forward to seeing Classical Comics Julius Caesar, which features art by Stephen O’Connor, inked by Gary Erskine. Stephen showed me his pencils at the British International Comic Show back in October and they just blew me away. I want to find him a project on STRIP Magazine if I can, he’s that good.

(some lovely, detailed art from Classical Comics’ upcoming¬† Julius Caesar, pencils by Stephen O’Connor, inks by Gary Erskine)

I’m hesitant but picking Stephen out, because I don’t want artists to suddenly start pitching work in his style when I’d far rather see their own!

You can read the rest of the Best of the Year 2010 guest posts to date here on the blog.

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About The Author

Joe Gordon
Joe Gordon is ForbiddenPlanet.co.uk's chief blogger, which he set up in 2005. Previously, he was professional bookseller for over 12 years as well as a lifelong reader and reviewer, especially of comics and science fiction works.

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