Hanging With The Freak Brothers
I discovered comic books after I discovered weed. I was already 15 when I picked up my first comic book. It wasn’t Marvel or DC or any super hero title. I wouldn’t start reading those until much later. It was the underground comics that caught my eye.
Fat Freddy and Scottman were part of our “stoner gang”. Scottman was forever trying to get me into comic books and Freddy would nod vigorously in agreement. I always declined, dismissing them as “kids stuff”. Then Scottman handed me a copy of a comic book that seemed to glorify our very lifestyle. When I read that first copy of The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers, my life of smoking weed and doing drugs was validated.
The Freak Brothers were created by Gilbert Shelton in the late sixties. Featured in underground newspapers, Playboy and High Times, the comic is still being reprinted and sold in comic shops and on-line. Gilbert Shelton is also the genius behind another underground comic classic, Wonder Warthog.
We were in a frenzy to read every single issue. At the time, there were still new episodes being released. We would take the T into Boston and see what new “underground” comics were available at Newbury Comics (back then the only store location was on Newbury Street).
The Freak Brothers had seeped so deeply into our lifestyle that we “became” the characters from those pages. Fat Freddy, of course, was instantly recognizable from the group. He adopted the very essence of Fat Freddy in every way. It was hard to tell the real Fat Freddy from the fictional Fat Freddy. One time, Fat Freddy iced up some nasty bongwater and chugged it down. Such a Fat Freddy thing to do. As for me… I became the somewhat obscure character: Skinny Benny.
Police Officers became “Norberts” after the character “Notorious Norbert The Narc”, a bumbling officer always looking to bust the “Brothers”. Any weed dealer was “Dealer McDope”, all beer was “Tall Toad”, large campers were “Phutney Creech Landyachts”. I could go on but I think you get the point. Gilbert Shelton and the Freak Brothers were also the source of that favorite sound effect used when describing all manner of destruction: “Fagroon“.
I’ve always felt the Freak Brothers would be great as a movie. In fact, there have been multiple attempts to produce one. A stop action, puppet-style production was started but never finished. There was even a Kickstarter campaign to get it funded but it fell short. I hold on to the hope that a Hollywood stoner will write the perfect Freak Brothers movie script.
As I stated, the Freak Brothers are still in print and available from a bunch of places on the internet. Of course, you can just read them on-line but nothing beats the feeling of a printed book in one’s hands. May I suggest you just go for the whole deal and pick up the The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers Omnibus, the ultimate collection of Freak Brothers comic strips with all the necessary “Fat Freddy’s Cat” footers included.
Here’s some Freak Brothers links to get you started: