By John Curley
Tina Freeman’s wonderful illustrated book Stinger will surely delight children. The adults reading it to children will enjoy it for a different reason, the many rock-music references that appear throughout the book. There are references in the book to The Who, The Beatles, The Small Faces, Steve Marriott, The Jam, Mods, Quadrophenia, London’s Marquee club, London’s Hammersmith Odeon, The Who’s Tommy album and Elton John’s Pinball Wizard character from the Tommy film among others.
The protagonist of the book is Stinger, a scooter-riding Mod bee that lives in Brighton, England on Brighton Pier and works as a bell boy at a posh Brighton hotel that is patterned after Brighton’s Grand Hotel. Stinger is based on Sting’s Ace Face/Bell Boy character from the 1979 film version of Quadrophenia. (Sting has seen the book and gave Freeman his approval.) The story features a trip to London that Stinger takes to live out his rock-music dreams. Ultimately, Stinger comes to realize that there is no place like home. The characters in the book are all either bees or dogs, and there are cheeky references to both in the book. “The Beetles” are shown crossing “A Bee Road,” for example.
Freeman met with The Who’s Pete Townshend, who wrote the 1973 album version of Quadrophenia upon which the 1979 film is based, and Who manager Bill Curbishley. Townshend gave the book his seal of approval.
Freeman would like see an animated series of Stinger come to fruition. This book project is timed to coincide with the 40th anniversary of the release of the Quadrophenia film and it is featured in a Kickstarter campaign. There are several packages available via Kickstarter, including a softback edition, a hardback edition and a hardback edition that comes with a 7-inch record featuring narration of the story by Phil Daniels, who portrayed the protagonist Jimmy Cooper in the 1979 Quadrophenia film. A hardback edition that is signed by Freeman and comes with the 7-inch record featuring Daniels’ narration is also available.
Stinger was written and illustrated by Freeman. The book was designed by Anthony Mulryan. Assisting Freeman with the Kickstarter project is Nicky Weller, sister of Paul Weller, co-author of the books Growing Up With…The Jam and Growing Up With…Punk and co-curator of The Jam’s About The Young Idea exhibitions in London in 2015 and Liverpool in 2016.
The Kickstarter campaign for Stinger can be found at https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/tinafreeman/stinger-special-edition-book
Additional information about Stinger can be found at:
Web site: https://www.stingerthebook.co.uk/