Gilbert Shelton, creator of the Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers, recently turned 75, and the digital comics app Sequential is celebrating with a free collection of his work.
It includes some classic Freak Brothers strips, covers and a history of the comic, as well as a few interesting bits of ephemera such as the package design for the Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers rolling papers and the label for Tall Toad ale, Fat Freddy’s favorite brew. The sampler is available for free through the end of June.
Shelton was one of the pillars of the underground comics movement of the 1960s and early 1970s, a co-founder of Rip Off Press as well as the creator of the Freak Brothers and Wonder Wart-Hog. He was inducted into the Eisner Hall of Fame in 2012 (I was proud to be one of the judges that year).
As he recounts in the Sequential guide, the first Freak Brothers comic was done as a flier for a film he’d made. “Everyone liked the comic strip better than the film,” he said, “so I abandoned my film-directing career and devoted my subsequent efforts to cartooning.” This first strip included the beta version of what would become the Freak Brothers’ most famous catch phrase, “Grass will carry you through times of no money better than money will carry you through times of no grass.”
Although they were definitely transgressive, the Freak Brothers comics were more funny than sharp-edged, with genial characters and a lot of slapstick. While they read like period pieces (especially the paranoia about the cops, now that marijuana has been decriminalized or legalized across much of the country), most of the gags stand up, and while they are irreverent, they are seldom mean.
Anyway, you can’t go wrong with a free sampler. As Freewheeling Franklin might say, comics will get you through times of no money better than money will get you through times of no comics.
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