Lancaster Comics Day 2017 Guest: John Freeman

John Freeman, Tim Quinn and Lancaster Comics Day head organiser Stuart Reynolds at Lancaster Comics Day 2016
John Freeman, Tim Quinn and Lancaster Comics Day head organiser Stuart Reynolds at Lancaster Comics Day 2016

Based in Lancaster, John Freeman is a writer, editor and creative consultant and publisher of the comics and other media news site downthetubes.net, begun in 1999, its focus initially devoted to British Comics creators, publishers and titles such as 2000AD and The Beano.

He’ll again be moderating the Comics Day panels and is more than happy to answer questions about creating comics and the British comics industry. Anything to stop him eating all the Comic Cake!

He works as a specialist PR advisor and copywriter for international comic organisations such as the Lakes International Comic Art Festival (13th- 14th October 2017 – www.comicartfestival.com) and is co-organiser of Lancaster Comics Day, which raised over £640 for Lancaster Library last year.

In 2015 he joined the team at B7 Media as creative consultant on their new Dan Dare Audio Adventures, a series inspired by the classic British comic hero first published in the British weekly Eagle in the 1950s, who has been reinvented on several occasions for succeeding generations.

In 2016, he began working for Titan Comics as a freelance editor, initially on Doctor Who: Heralds of Destruction with writer Paul Cornell (Paul’s last ever Doctor Who comic project) and artist Christopher Jones. He’s also editing Lost Fleet, a comic based on the SF book series authored by Jack Campbell, and other as-yet-unannounced projects,

Crucible © 2016 John Freeman & Smuzz
Crucible © 2016 John Freeman & Smuzz

He is the co-cfreator of the the SF adventure strip Crucible, drawn by Smuzz (whose credits include 2000AD), lettered by Jim Campbell and Death Duty with Dave Hailwood, artist Brett Burbridge and letterer Ken Reynolds.

Between 2009 and February 2016 he was editor for ROK Comics (www.rokcomics.com), part of ROK Global, which has published a number of audio comics for mobile devices (Apple and Android) including Team M.O.B.I.L.E. and The Beatles Story, the latter written by Angus Allan and drawn by Arthur Ranson, first published in the British weekly Look-In in the 1980s.

Past comic credits include Doctor WhoThe Real GhostbustersThundercatsGalaxy RangersGene DogsShadow RidersWarheadsJudge Dredd Megazine (writing “Judge Karyn” and “Cabal”), “The Grand Tour” for Italy’s CJL publishing, various humour strips for Lucky Bag Comics, comics for business clients (including a still unpublished and scurrilous serial about the British Civil Service that runs to over 100 strips), and “Black Ops Extreme” and “King Cobra” for STRIP Magazine, the latter re-inventing Scottish publisher DC Thomson’s superhero character first created by 2000AD’s Ron Smith.

John’s career in the comics began over 25 years ago as a writer for fanzines and The Science Service, his first professional work, drawn by Rian Hughes (re-published by Knockabout in Yesterday’s Tomorrows). A humour strip, “The Really Heavy Greatcoat”, drawn by Nick Miller, began in 1987, and continues to this day as an element of Skid Avenue a web comic written by Italian writer Antonella Caputo. He began working in the comics industry proper at Marvel UK, first as designer and then editor of Doctor Who Magazine, working alongside Richard Starkings (now head honcho at Comicraft and the creator of Elephantmen), John Tomlinson (now editor of the Eaglemoss-published Marvel Fact Files part work) and Dan Abnett (who has been so successful as a writer and author he claims to have had to clone himself).

Working with Paul Neary, he helped shape the 1992 “Genesis” project that saw the creation of Death’s Head II – Marvel’s most successful cyborg character – the Warheads and Motormouth and Killpower, penning some issues of those comics and working with Liam Sharp (co-founder of the digital comics publisher Madefire), Mike Collins, John Ridgway, Lee Sullivan, Charlie Adlard, Dave Taylor, Craig Huston, Bryan Hitch, Andy Lanning, Stuart Jennett, and many more fine British comic creators. He also edited the weekly anthology title, Overkill.

In 1995, after a brief period as a freelance writer, editor and Director of the Lancaster Literature Festival, he was appointed Managing Editor at Titan Magazines, helping the company develop a line of licensed titles including Star Trek MagazineStar Wars MagazineBabylon 5 Magazine and the British incarnation of Simpsons Comics.

After a successful and enjoyable time with the company he plunged into the world of digital publishing in 1999, creating the concept and characters for a virtual SF chat world, VZSciFi, while continuing to work in ‘traditional’ publishing as freelance editor of books and magazines, including Titan Books’ Dan Dare and Charley’s War collections. (A ‘temporary’ return to Star Trek Magazine as editor lasted for over two years).

He began working on ideas for digital comics delivered to mobile devices in 2002, but it was at ROK Comics that those ideas finally coalesced into a range of titles that includes Team M.O.B.I.L.E.Houdini Adventures, audio comics for bands and more.

Between 2010 and 2014, he edited STRIP: The Adventure Comics Magazine on a freelance basis for Bosnian-based publishing house Print Media, as well as working on their graphic novel projects.

His first book, Sci-Fi Art Now, was published in 2010 by ILEX in the UK and Harper Collins in the US, a collection of some of the best in contemporary science fiction art by a wide range of creators that includes an introduction by the legendary Chris Foss.

• You can find him online at www.downthetubes.net and on Twitter @johnfreeman_dtb and follow his projects on Facebook here

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