Check out This: How One Man’s Quest Revived the Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers
The phoenix-like rebirth of the Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers – born from the ashes of their own smoky ’70s stash – could be the ultimate Ripped Van Winkle story. At Tubi this weekend, the three iconic stoners are being revived in the age of legalization, with their street beliefs of counterculture still intact.
The freak brothers
Debut on November 14th
Streaming on Tubi
Freewheelin ‘Franklin, Phineas, and Fat Freddy — collectively and affectionately known as the Freaks — made their debut in 1968 when series creator Gilbert Shelton invented them as part of a one-off advertising campaign for a no-budget film called Texas Hippies March on The Capitol.
The film left no impression and has since been lost in history, but the freaks continued to freak out, selling over 40 million copies of their collected adventures, translated into 15 languages.
Over the years, many attempts to adapt her uniquely puny world for film and television have flared and burned out, and there were only a few minutes of test claymation to show them off.
But now, at last, a new cartoon series will restart its adventures for the modern age. Pete Davidson, Woody Harrelson and John Goodman give voice to the title roles, while Tiffany Haddish gives her cat the voice – a character so popular in the original comic that it became a spin-off series of its own. Workaholics stars Adam Devine and Blake Anderson are serving as executive producers on the new show and also speaking two new characters specially developed for the animated series The Freak Brothers, which debuts on Tubi on Sunday November 14th.
This is the story of how an underground comic about cannabis-obsessed anarchist “freaks” became an anti-establishment sensation, then fell into disuse as its creator retreated into seclusion – only to see his life’s work being loving Has been revived, freshened and revitalized by a new generation of Hollywood weed enthusiasts.
“I smoked marijuana for the first time in 1959”
Gilbert Sullivan attended the University of Texas at Austin intermittently for nearly a decade, mainly to avoid drafting in Vietnam. He found his people at Texas Ranger, an infamous campus humor magazine that sponsored several other groundbreaking underground comic artists.
Austin was a center of radical politics and the drug culture of the time. The city’s relative proximity to Mexico ensured a steady supply of cheap, seedy cannabis, and real-life versions of seedy characters like Freewheelin ‘Frank abounded.
“I first smoked marijuana in 1959 when I went to the University of Texas.” Sullivan once recalled in an interview. “On the rare occasion that someone had marijuana to smoke, we would all go into the bathroom, close the door and put a towel under the crack to prevent the smoke from escaping and coming out of the house and going down to the police station four miles away.” get the police to come and arrest us all. “
Of course, there has been much speculation over the years that all three Freak Brothers (who are not biologically related) were modeled from their creator’s social circle in Austin, who was certainly known for smoking his share of weed.
“The Freak Brothers are part of a tradition of characters who live on the fringes of society,” Shelton once told Texas Monthly. “Dope is only part of it.”
Back then, the Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers were an integral part of the underground comix movement.
Evicted from Austin by police crackdown
In 1968, just a year after his very first Freak Brothers comic was published, Gilbert Shelton fled what Texas Monthly called “police crackdowns” on Austin hippies and eventually settled in San Francisco like so many Seekers of the day.
Just as the newly opened Fillmore West Ballroom served as the global epicenter of psychedelic rock music, City by the Bay also attracted an unprecedented influx of underground comic book talent.
Zap Comix was founded in San Francisco that year and released Zap # 1 as a showcase for the work of R. Crumb – including classic characters like Mr. Natural and images like “Keep on Truckin”, which was a kind of analog meme of its time.
Bought my own printing press
Gilbert Shelton published similarly under the Zap umbrella before founding Rip Off Press in 1969 with three exiled Austin comix heads.
That was back when “press” was not yet a term in art. The four friends literally bought a used Davidson 233 offset press and set up shop in the back of a novelty store.
Originally, they wanted to make a living designing and printing posters for rock concerts, while putting out their own work and a small selection of titles by artists that were too controversial for the mainstream press. But when the underground comix scene took off, Rip Off Press went into publishing full time.
Shelton has not completely lost his affinity for music illustration, however. Eventually, he made his talents available to the Grateful Dead and illustrated the cover of their 1978 album Shakedown Street.
1970s: underground press and high times
The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers gained a national audience in the early 1970s when they appeared in underground newspapers across the country.
A two year run in the High Times pages during the magazine’s heyday (1976-1978) brought the brothers’ adventures to an even wider audience. But that’s about it when it comes to mainstream exposure – if you can name mainstream alongside ads for clean urine and cola spoons.
Old heroes of the counterculture
Why did the story of three weed-obsessed burnout friends and their equally drunk cat last so long?
Amid all of the political and cultural turmoil that went on during their long print run, Phineas, Freewheeling Frank and Fat Freddy held their place in the heart of the world’s hardcore stoners by willing to do anything to get some weed while they forever crossed their noses in the establishment.
Check out the trio’s most enduring wisdom, immortalized in a full-page comic panel that was later turned into a classic dorm poster: Dope will get you through times without money better than money will get you through times without dope.
Even the Freak Brothers’ main antagonist – the infamous Norbert the Nark, a greedy and incompetent cop – seems torn from today’s headlines.
Withdrawal to Europe
In 1979 Gilbert Shelton and his wife, literary agent Lora Fountain, left the United States to live in Europe. He continued to publish new Freak Brothers comics until 1997, when he became something of a hermit and only appeared occasionally at a conference or lecture.
When Courtney Solomon looked for him, he was pretty hard to find.
A quest to revive the brothers
Solomon has been making and directing films since 2000 when he brought Dungeons and Dragons – another popular but forgotten IP – to the big screen. Solomon, the producer who came up with the idea for a Freak Brothers Revival, attributes his affection for the brothers to a teenage trip to Amsterdam, where he found a copy in a head shop, took it to a coffee shop, and spent the rest of the year spending the day brightens and laughs.
About 25 years after that afternoon in Amsterdam, Solomon decided to track down Gilbert Sullivan and convince him to approve an animated series that was true to the original but set in the modern era. After a six month search, he found the great artist who lived outside of Paris – his ashtray was full of cockroaches, his mind was still suspicious of authority in any form, including Hollywood.
Gilbert remained convinced that dope will get you through times without money better than money will get you through times without dope.
Hot box time machine
Ultimately, Solomon convinced him to give Hollywood one last try with a pitch as funny, stupid, clever, obvious, and inventive as anything found in the original comic: The 1970s Freak Brothers smoke a shit like this the good thing is that you passed out for 50 years and wake up in modern day San Francisco. Although Shelton isn’t a writer of the new animated series, he has given his blessings and offered input at every step.
So what’s next? How are the Freak Brothers doing in a world where weed is legal but the man is still skull cracking?
You have to turn on, turn on, and find out.
Experienced cannabis journalist David Bienenstock is the author of “How to Smoke Pot (Properly): A Highbrow Guide to Getting High” (2016 – Penguin / Random House) and co-host and co-creator of the podcast “Great Moments in Weed- Story with Abdullah and Bean. ”Follow him on Twitter @pot_handbook.
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