Mods Of Your Generation Interview – Tina Freeman – Stinger The Book
I came across ‘Stinger’ after seeing a post on Facebook an illustrated book based on Quadrophenia. Intrigued by the beautifully painted images I wanted to find out more. I discovered that it was a kickstarter project and Immediately wanted to show my support and pledge. I then discovered Tina Freeman the lady behind the idea to find out more about her and the wonderful book. I asked her if she would like to feature in an interview to help promote it. We spoke on the phone and instantly hit it off as if we had known one another for years. We discussed Nicky Weller’s involvement as collaborator of the book and many of our common interests such as music and fashion. It was so exciting to hear all about the characters in the book and who they were based on. Tina described them to me with absolute passion & love for the project.As a father of three young children I am often asked ‘Dad what is Quadrophenia about?’ as it has been referenced many times at home. My children are not old enough to watch the film, therefore I was immediately excited to share this book with them. I felt extremely privileged to receive a soft back copy of the book from Tina. I sat with my children and read the book pointing out the many references to Quadrophenia and the mod scene as they eagerly listened to find out what adventures awaited ‘Stinger The Bell Bee’I highly recommended this book to anyone with a passion for the 60’s and Quadrophenia. This book is a great way to share your experiences and love for music & fashion with your children or grandchildren and inspiring the next generation. I hope you enjoy reading the interview as much as i did asking the questions.
1) Where did you grow up and how old were you when you discovered the mod scene? I grew up on a very 60s Housing Estate in Birmingham, lots of Flats, Maisonettes and lots of concrete ‘the planners dream gone wrong.’ There were a few cool Mod lads wandering around after the 79 Revival which intrigued me. I became a little Mod girl at the young impressionable age of 13. I got my first scooter, a Lambretta LD 150 before I was even old enough to drive it.
2) At what age did you discover you had a talent for drawing? Very young really, I used to copy all the Disney characters from my “Now I Know” comics from the age of three. 3) Who are your favourite bands or artists and the most influential to you as a teenager growing up? I had an infant school teacher who loved The Beatles, so I think my interest and love of the 60’s came from this. The first Mod band I listened to was The Jam. I loved the energy and passion, still do.Then I went through a blinkered phase of only listening to original R&B and soul. I think the bands most influential to me as an artist have to be The Small Faces and The Who.
4) What bands or music do you listen to now? I have much wider tastes these days. I think we are incredibly lucky under the “umbrella of Mod” to have so much to choose from. I think I would have got bored and moved away from the scene if we didn’t have that ever evolving attitude.Even if you just take Wellers’ life body of music, there are enough songs here to suit your ever changing moods, see what I did there?I paint to music; I really think it adds the magic to the process.At the moment I have True Meanings on my turntable, by Paul Weller. I am like a teenager again, playing it over and over, absolutely love it. I seem to be playing The Beatles a lot too, perhaps that is just because of my “A Bee Road” painting in my book.I also have a CD player (I know! how very modern of me) to listen to ‘Georgie the brightest star’ by The Electric Stars. It is a beautiful hymn about George Best who features in one of my future stories. 5) In the 90’s you shared an art Studio on King Street in Manchester and worked as a freelance illustrator. You also worked as a portrait artist for Manchester United. Tell us a little bit about your art studio and some of the footballers you did portraits of? I relocated to Manchester after working in North Wales. The studio was seriously cool, with a lovely old balcony overlooking King Street. I worked for some great Ad agencies and The Royal Mail as well as Man United. Along with other merchandise I did limited edition portraits of Ryan Giggs, Eric Cantona and Peter Schmeichel.
6) When did you draw the initial illustrations for the book and what inspired you to come up with the concept basing it on the mod scene and Quadrophenia? As a freelance illustrator I had worked on The Red Devil mascot character and Billy the Butlins Bear. I started thinking of a cool Wasp character to drive around on a Vespa.I had already produced a Who Collection of paintings and screen prints and had a few meetings with Trinifold Management. It was a bit of a light bulb moment for me when I realised, I could call the character ‘Sting’ and tie it into my love of Quadrophenia.I had two versions which I explained to Robert Rosenberg, one of a generic Wasp character tootling his way around Britain in The Sixties, the other very much based on Quad, using iconic scenes from the film which ultimately if animated should be very music driven.
7) Many of the characters in the book are based on members of your favourite bands & the Quadrophenia cast. Can you tell us a little bit about each character and who they are based on? Without wanting to give too much away, you can meet characters from Ace Mod Dog bands “The Whoof” and “The Cool Faces” with Ste Merrimutt. When I showed my portfolio of original paintings to Pete Townshend I was quite nervous. Luckily he liked his character “Pete Houndshend” and has been really encouraging. I am yet to meet Roger, although this is very much part of my wish list.
8) You showed Franc Roddam the director of Quadrophenia the illustrations and your idea to base the book on Quadrophenia. What were his thoughts and was he supportive of your plans? This was about 5 years ago, a very important piece in the jigsaw. I met Franc down in Brighton where he was doing a Q&A. He had mentioned that he had a two year old, and it would be a long time before he would get to know of Quadrophenia. I told him it might be sooner if he liked my story and showed him the first few watercolour paintings. I asked Franc if I could dedicate the book to his son, which he agreed.The story line and character evolved over the next few years, changing the name from Sting to Stinger to avoid copyright issues. I then made the decision to change him from a wasp into a much more lovable Bee Character. It felt right then, with him coming from Manchester, and having much more heart.
I met up with Franc again at The Teenage Cancer Trust event this January, where he introduced me to Sting, who just so happened to be sat at our table. It is very rare for him to attend a Quadrophenia event, so I was incredibly lucky. Sting loved the character and gave the book his full blessing, which was fantastic.
9) You met Nicky Weller at the Cunard Building in Liverpool, in the first few days of the Jam exhibition ‘About The Young Idea’. Can you explain how this led to collaborating with her to publish ‘Stinger’? I went along to The Jam exhibition as a fan and ended up being invited in to sell my ‘Quadrotina’ artwork in the shop. The next day was my birthday, and I had a surreal experience eating cupcakes with Nicky and Ann Weller. My “Quadwoofenia” collection of Dogs on Scooters sold really well, so I introduced a Bruce Foxtail, and Rick Boxer to the set. We had such a laugh over the 14 weeks coming up with new names and characters.It was at their literary event that I mentioned that I had a children’s book based on Quadrophenia. I sat down with Nicky and Den Davis who ‘got it’ completely, especially the concept of having it animated as a kids’ TV series or feature film.
10) Nicky introduced you to her brother Paul Weller. What were his thoughts on your artwork and your ideas and what other things did you discuss? The first time I met Paul he came into the shop at The Jam exhibition, for a cup of tea. Nicky showed him my “Paw Weller” Quadwoof pic. It was hilarious, not at all how I imagined it would be if I ever got to meet him. I met him recently at his studio with Nicky. He asked how the book was going on Kickstarter. In fact the night before we had smashed the target of over ten thousand pounds pledged. It was lovely to tell him the news; he seemed genuinely really chuffed for us. I told him how much I had enjoyed the walk through Delamere Forest for his gig the previous week. We chatted about the success of his latest tour, and the wonderful supporting Stone Foundation. He asked about my kids which meant the world to me.
11) What is the vision for Stinger? As I believe this book is the start of a series of books based around the 60’s and the mod scene. Stinger is the first of this series. I have this idea where different characters from Quadrophenia are developed and will have their own spin off adventures. I have had such fun with this concept, including what we know has happened to the actors after Quad. I would love different cast members to narrate the books, in the same way Phil Daniels recorded Stinger. To me Pete Townshend’s’ musical score is what really drives Quadrophenia. We are brilliant in this country at animation; just imagine combining a series with fantastic music and how much more it would connect with kids, hopefully watching with their parents and grandparents.I often find myself trying to explain what “a Mod is” to young children. It was easier for me to illustrate the concept of being ‘the best that you can be’ through Stinger. You never know, we might have a new little revival on our hands.
12) What was it like for you meeting Phil Daniels and the cast of Quadrophenia? Firstly can I say what an honour it is to know, and now work with some of the cast. Quadrophenia was my coming of age Teenage film, and certainly helped shape me as a young Mod, scooterist and artist. My friend and I would hire the video out most weekends and knew it word for word. Imagine how that feels now for me to be not only talking to but sharing my ideas creatively with my heroes.
I met Phil Daniels first, with Garry Cooper (aka Fenton) and Trevor Laird (Ferdy) at a brilliant Quad event in Widnes where I was invited by Rob Wright to sell my artwork. I showed them the initial ideas for Stinger and asked if they would consider doing the voice over’s playing their characters if I got it as far as an animated project.
I kept in touch with Trevor, who has been so kind and generous with his time, helping me to meet other actors such as Lesley Ash, Toyah, Gary Shail and Mark Wingett to move forwards with this dream.
13) When will the book be available to purchase and where can people get hold of it? Now we have reached our target, we have to get the hard backed collector’s edition version printed and have the record pressed with Stinger narrated by Phil Daniels.Those wonderful people who pledged to get the book printed will be the first to receive their copies. After that we will be holding a few special events such as an official launch with readings and signings.
14) What message would you like to give to those who have supported the book and to those who have pledged? Nicky Weller, our close knit team of designers Anthony Mulryan , Phil Dias and I am so very grateful to each and every person that pledged, shared our posts, and supported us through our first experience of Kickstarter.I always knew that I would have to come at this project from a different angle. A children’s book on Mods would be seen to have a very limited audience in the eyes of a publisher. I have been amazed how many normal (“Wot is normal then?”) fans the book has, of people of all ages and walks of life. I initially wrote it for Mods to enjoy with their kids and grandchildren, but found it has a much wider appeal.I think anything really written from the heart will find that connection with people, whether it be a shared love of music, scooters or just the pretty pictures.