Name: Ichabod P. Freely
First Appearance: Belch Dimension Comics #10, 2006 ("The I.P. Freely Inhumane Society").
Abilities: extensive knowlege of veterinary medicine, skill with a whip
Affiliations: The Nefarious Four
Fictional character biography
Ichabod P. Freely began as a country veterinarian. One day a patient came to him with her sick dog, and Dr. Freely fell in love with it. He forged a set of medical results saying the dog's condition was untreatable and that he had no choice but to euthanize the poor animal. In actuality Freely adopted and renamed the dog. His secretary Arlene Crunt, however, produced both the fake document and the original, showing them both to the dog's real owner. She was so enraged that she filed a lawsuit against Freely. The dog was returned to its real master, and Freely has his veterinary license suspended. (This is based on an actual incident that happened in Collierville, Tennessee, not far from creator J.M. Sweet's hometown.) In his personal diary Freely called Crunt a "Judas whore" and even drew a number of very graphic doodles of her being tortured in spectacular ways. This incident greatly affected the doctor, and he would note in his journal that it was "mawkish sentiment" that has made him "weak" and cost him everything. He (he wrote) had become "frozen" to all human emotion because of the experience. Thus he is able to justify the harm or torture of animals (and even people) with little regard to their welfare.
Freely's first actual appearance in the series was in "The I.P. Freely Inhumane Society" (#10), in which he had established Freely Laboratories, ostensibly for legitimate research. In actuality it was a front for an illegal testing and animal brokering business, which kept animals in small cramped pens and sold them to other less-than-reputable facilities. Will I. Ketchum, local dogcatcher, worked to procure strays for Freely on the sly, and was paid handsomely. One day he brought Buddy and Brandy in from one of his jobs. Freely locked them in a cage, but they escaped. The dogs had to swipe Freely's master key to spring the other animals, nearly getting caught in the process. The police arrived just then, presumably alerted by the disturbance. Freely was arrested and jailed; Ketchum was temporarily suspended from animal control for his unethical side project.
Freely appeared next in "Carnival Knowledge" operating the Freely Brothers Carnival on the outskirts of town. Jon, Josh, Angela, Flunger and Gort visited and found it a shabby and unimpressive affair, boasting overhyped attractions. However, Freely himself invited them to see an attraction he promised would "interest even the hardest cynic".
His "something" turned out to be a female Flungarian whom Freely called "Chi-Chi". Flunger became enraged and insisted her name was Khani. Khani, it turned out, was his wife. They had become separated during an earthquake that was the precursor to the planet's ruin, and he had though her dead. However, she had survived...and through a harrowing adventure involving near-starvation, kidnap by space pirates, and a daring breakout, had found herself ironically only miles from her husband's home on Earth. However, Freely found her, and soon proved to be a very cruel master, physically abusing her with his whip if she failed to obey or perform her routines correctly. The gang rescued Khani from Freely and--barring a brief setback where Freely captured all three of their alien friends--managed to see her off safely to the settlement on New Flung and have Freely taken away again by the police.
Freely's third appearance was as one of Hiss Hole's Nefarious Four, with Demi-Jon, Captain Maggot, and Dung Tung Wu. In the Black Labyrinth he also conducts a painful sneak attack on Flunger and Gort, leaving a crossword puzzle for them. Later he is seen using his whip on Ben, who goes into a spin, with Freely holding onto his walking-stick and being twirled about.
In need of cash to pay for his legal bills following this misadventure, Dr. Freely trained a team of beagles to rob banks. He hid out in the abandoned animal shelter, where he phoned the banks with his demands moments after his team of dogs arrived, wearing saddlebags to accomodate the stolen loot. When he discovered that the Warriors had learned of his scheme and sent in a dog with a sack of fake money--in actuality Jon in disguise--and a tracking chip, Freely planned to escape with the money. To cover his tracks and destroy any evidence, he attempted to blow up his hideout--dogs and all--by turning the furnace up too high and disabling the safety mechanisms. However, Angela managed to free Jon and the rest of the dogs from the pens and lock Freely in his office, moments before the tampered-with furnace exploded. Freely was buried alive when the building collapsed.
Despite his apparant demise (a deleted scene shows he hid inside an office safe, which being made of iron neatly withstood the blast, then tunneled his way out of the rubble), Freely turned up again only ten issues later (Sep 2010). Disguising himself as filmmaker Charles Arthur Burroughs, he announces an audition for local dogs to win a part in his next project, a reboot of the successful "Schubert the Wonder Dog" films. When Jon brings Buddy to the audition, "Burroughs" agreees to let him film some test scenes. Following a couple of setbacks (owing to a jealous Tony Moneran, whose dog was rejected, sabatoging filming), the phony director simply knocks Buddy unconscious with his cane from behind. In actuality the dogs "Burroughs" signs for his movies are being held prisoner in a lab several miles away, connected by a subterranean tunnel to the studio. Freely plans to sell the purloined pooches to the highest bidders (e.g. dog fighting, animal testing labs), Buddy included. The Warriors discover the tunnel, as well as the the real Charles Burroughs, who has been held captive by the impostor Burroughs for several weeks in a secret room. Jon, Josh, and Angela break into the lab and use the underground tunnels to rescue Buddy and to funnel the other dogs to freedom. Freely discovers the ruse and tries to escape, but is captured and sent back to prison.
Character Inspiration and Design
Jonathan Sweet says that Freely's look is based on "an undertaker in a 1940-s era Warner Bros. cartoon". He also bears a striking resemblance, with his monocle, dark hair, mustache and bald head, to The Penguin and Col. Klink, as well as to Dick Tracy villain Sketch Paree .
Freely is a tall thin man with a monocle in his right eye, long pointed nose, and a rather skull-like face and pale complexion. He dresses in a coat that has a collar similar to a Nehru jacket but with long tails in the back, pinstriped pants, and a tall silk top hat. A black bow tie completes the ensemble. He has a long black mustache and a single gold tooth in the back of his mouth. He frequently carries a walking-stick that doubles as a weapon and smokes cigarettes in an ornate black holder.
Freely has no supernatural abilities; however, he is extremely intelligent and holds a veterinary degree and a (suspended) medical license. He is extremely familiar with medicines; his personal favorite is sleeping pills. He is quite proficient with a special cane he carries, which contains a concealed whip in the shaft. He has used the head as a handy bludgeon, and the hollowed shaft as a crude tool for administering pills to a stubborn animal. The cane seems to be primarily a weapon and a bit of a vanity rather than a necessity to get about, as he has been seen to walk and even run capably without it.
- "The I.P. Freely Inhumane Society"
- "Carnival Knowledge"
- "The Nefarious Four!"
- "Freely's Flim-Flam Film Scam"
- "Desolation Row"
- "Double Trouble" (flashback)
- "Son of the Return of the Serpent II" (nonspeaking cameo)
- "The Making of 'Son of the Return of the Serpent II'" (stock footage)
- "The Case of the Shanghaied Streetwalkers" (flashback)
- "The Case of the Beagle Burglaries"