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George Freeman

George Freeman always comes to mind when I think of comic book powerhouses who can do it all. Freeman's got the goods: killer drawing chops, excellent timing, a sharp sense of design, and he gives his work enough of a cartoon shine to make it look fun and alive. He's like Michael Golden as inked by P. Craig Russell. It's exceptional work, but due to his erratic résumé, Freeman's never been closely associated with any one major title or character and thus, his work is easy to miss.

There is one title he's known for: Captain Canuck. Fans of 70s independent comics will remember this ground-level staple. Freeman joined the title early on and quickly gave it a distinct visual identity.

Those comics have such careful rendering and crisp layouts, of course it set itself apart. The coloring on those issues, oftentimes done by Freeman himself, is quite sophisticated. Get those comics in their original format -- something special clicks between the colors and the newsprint that is absent in reprints.

Fast forward to the early-mid 80s. Freeman flirted with publishers such as Eclipse, Capital, DC, and First Comics, but made his mark when he drew the Jack of Hearts mini series (above) for Marvel as well as a short Daredevil story in Marvel Fanfare #7. [I personally love/hate the story; it looks gorgeous but the ending is so pointlessly brutal.]

Worth mentioning is his inking over Joe Staton on Alan Brennert's "The Autobiography of Bruce Wayne" from Brave & the Bold #197. It's a strong pairing, as Freeman leaves his thumbprint while remaining faithful to Staton's rubbery sensibility.

A few years later, Freeman would draw his most reprinted story to date, "Mortal Clay" written by Alan Moore in Batman Annual #11.

Even though he's worked on tons of comics, George Freeman's pencil art has slowed down in the past few decades, occasionally inking seemingly random projects and focusing on coloring (he was nominated for Best Colorist in the '96 Eisners).

"Seemingly random" sounds like I don't understand how the tempo of a freelancer's career goes. Not many of us get to curate our own trajectory, and even if we were able to, a gig is a gig is a gig. It's good work if you can get it. I would love more pages with Freeman artwork on them, but so what -- bills have to be paid and this Leave It To Chance issue ain't gonna color itself.

George Freeman's work deserves to be revisited and studied and held in higher regard. Ignore it at your own risk.

Here's a suggested reading list of my favorite Freeman comics:

· Aquaman Special (1988)
· Avengers West Coast Annual 6 (Don't sleep on this one.)
· Badger 68
· Batman Annual 11 (His most famous work, written by Alan Moore.)
· Big Book of Bad
· Black Widow: the Coldest War (So excellent, but so many inkers.)
· Captain Canuck (Seriously, get the originals. 14 is the high point.)
· Green Lantern Corps Annual 2
· Jack of Hearts mini series (Shown here. Never reprinted.)
· Marvel Fanfare 7, 57
· Nexus 9 (Back-up story, recolored in a reprint, btw.)
· Secret Origins 18, 46 (inks/colors 46 over Curt Swan. Great art team.)

· Wasteland 2, 3, 4, 6, 7 (Short stories for this wonderful anthology.)

This article first appeared in Michel Fiffe's Patreon page.
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9 Responses to George Freeman

  1. Diarrhea Sunset says:

    I like this.

  2. George Freeman pencilled a story in Phantacea Five that Verne Andrusiek (as then) inked. It was republished in “The Damnation Brigade” graphic novel in 2013 (http://www.phantacea.com/#g3Novels).

  3. James Carey Lauder says:

    I hung out at the Captain Canuck office /art dept. in Winnipeg in the mid 70’s. I was only 15 but chilled with Richard and George several days a week. Did odd jobs around the office and got paid in …… CC comics, that I still have them today, about 100 of them.

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  5. Charles Hatfield says:

    The first Freeman that grabbed me was his work with Michael T. Gilbert on Elric: Sailor on the Seas of Fate (the First miniseries, which was, what?, mid-eighties?). Knockout drawing on that book—it fairly floored me. I followed him to some Captain Canuck and also the Batman and “Secret Origins” work sampled above. Thanks for shining a light on this unfairly neglected artist!

    He has drawing in the Moonshot anthology, IIRC, but to my eyes it lacked the flair of his 80s work. Ah well—I’d still love to see more (and more recent) work by him.

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  7. john s says:

    i’ve really been enjoying fiffe’s deep dives into overlooked quarter box masters… hope to see them continue in the year ahead!

  8. Rolando Rodriguez says:

    He’s one of my favorite artist, love his style. First “met” him on gus Captain Canuck run, then loved his Jack of Hearts series. Wish hebdid more.

  9. mmms says:

    Freeman is one of my favs, I picked up the new Cap Canuck classic comics and his art is still great. Back in the day I sent in for the Cap Canuck fan club but didn’t get the pen or shirt or anything.

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