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CSBG Archive

365 Reasons to Love Comics # 273

Hey, Lego Alan Moore From Way back in Reason Four! (Also available from the Archive.)

What do you think about Gilbert Shelton, the creator and guiding hand behind our latest reason?!

Why, he’s as near as comics have come to producing a natural comedic genius of the same stature as a Chaplin or a Tati. He is truly one of the greatest and most sublimely funny talents that the comic medium has to offer.”

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1/10/2008

273. The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers.

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They haven’t matured at all since Woodstock. They don’t get much love from traditional Green Lantern and/or Ghost World comic fans. They’re unkempt, unpolite, unmotivated and, in one case…

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almost miraculously unintelligent. They spend most of their time smoking dope, scoring dope or engaging in hair-brained get rich quick schemes so they can engage in one of the above.
In fact, the only member of the group who seems to be even remotely competent has four legs and fleas.
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Although Fat Freddy’s Cat generally has better things to do than hang around with his owner. His adventures generally appeared in a short gag strip underneath the main story, but he proved so popular he headlined six issues of his own book.

So. Why do the adventures of Phineas Freakears, Freewheelin’ Franklin, and Fat Freddy remain in print loooong after the glory days of love beads and tie-dye?

Well, heck, let’s take a look.

(Click to Bigamatize.)

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For one thing Shelton (and art assistants Dave Sheridan and Paul Mavrides) are genuinely great cartoonists. Check the fourth panel of the last strip. In one panel, Shelton (A) defines setting, (B) tells us something about the characters, (C) moves the plot forward, and (D) keeps the action perfectly clear and easy to follow. In ONE PANEL. In this age of decompression that feels like a minor miracle.

But there’s more than that. I think it’s the Freak’s cheerful mixture of IN and EX clusiveness that’s allowed them to prosper. See, Shelton’s clearly familiar with the inner workings of hippie/drug culture, and he incorporates a nicely anarchic spirit into the proceedings… The only people more lazy, stupid, and corrupt than the Freaks are the authorities.

On the other, well, there’s not a shred of nostalgia or romance in these strips. The Freaks ARE lazy, stupid, and corrupt, and nine times outta ten the strips end in much the same vein as Gary Larson’s the Far Side with SOMEBODY about to get it… Generally the Freaks themselves. So whether you’re laughing WITH the Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers or laugh AT the Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers… Or a queasy mix of both… the end result is pretty damn funny.

For more, check out the Toonopedia, or the Freaknet gallery, or peruse the Cover Gallery.

18 Comments

I love the Freak Brothers, there’s a great Neil Gaiman quote somewhere about having to be extra careful with your Freak Bros. Comics because people borrow them and never return them.

That’s how I got my first two volumes of the Freaks. (Off my mum)

*Googles*

Neil Gaiman
“Freak Brothers comics have a tendency to vanish just like biros and railway tickets. No, really, have you checked your collection recently? So it’s nice to see cultural icons coming out in a form which makes their vanishing more difficult.”

Ha! I would’ve worked that in if I’d found it in my research.

Tom Fitzpatrick

January 20, 2008 at 6:43 am

JacobZC: You stole from your mum!?!
You bu$t@rd!!
You should be taken out behind the barn and shot, drawn, quartered, flogged, horse-whipped, stomped on, at the so very least.

Can I borrow your Freaks?

Some of the best times I ever had were reading Freak Bros. comics while st…

Uh, I sure loved those Freak Bros. comics! Yeah boy! Heh.

Credit is also due to the late Dave Sheridan and Paul Mavrides, who’ve been collaborating on art with Shelton since 1974…

"O" the Humanatee!

January 20, 2008 at 2:38 pm

Hey, if we’re going to sing the praises of Gilbert Shelton, let’s not forget Wonder Wart-hog, one of the finest Superman parodies ever!

Credit is also due to the late Dave Sheridan and Paul Mavrides, who’ve been collaborating on art with Shelton since 1974…

Oh, yeah, good call. I couldn’t find anything on their working relationship with Shelton, so I just called them “and company.” Didn’t even think to check Wikipedia.

There’s at least one panel of “Fat Freddys Cat” that leaves me breathless every time:
“That’s the funniest looking duck I ever saw!”
“Yeah, but didn’t he look happy?”

I have no idea which part was by Shelton and which by Sheridan or Mavrides, but their contribution was obviously enormous. The early stories were really rough and simple. Once the new guys joined in the quality of the art and the continuing storylines became quite brilliant.
My favorite moments were when the old Mexican wise man (Montegringo, I think)had to come up “with something really heavy, dig?” and when Fat Freddie drank too much magic mushroom tea and ran through the night with highbeams coming out of his eyes.

Seem to recall a lot of child sexual abuse in those books, though. And not always so friendly to women.
Just like the Haight was I imagine.

Child sexual abuse?!? Say what now?

I do remember a little bit in the Little Orphan Amphetamine one-pager, but that’s all I can think of.

OK, I guess the girls were almost legal, but child abuse is child abuse. I seem to recall a lot of teenie-boppers being boinged on the inflatable couch, along with little Annie Amphetamine. Maybe it’s become exaggerated in my memory, but it always kind of greebled me out.

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I have been a fan for over 20 years. and I hope one day too pass my collection down too my kids. they have allways been their for me .and brought me joy. too all you freak fans. let your freak flag fly .peace

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