Comic Book / The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers

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"Dope will get you through times of no money better than money will get you through times of no dope."

Classic indie comic series which ran from the late 60s to the early 90s. Written and drawn with exceptional talent by Gilbert Shelton, it followed the Gonzoid, gleefully profane adventures of the titular brothers- Fat Freddy, Phineas Phreakers and Freewheelin' Franklin. Invariably broke and struggling to avoid a hippy fate worse than death — having to work — these adventures were usually based around attempting to score a large amount of drugs without falling foul of Norbert the Nark and his dastardly government friends. Hilarity Ensues.

Read one way, it could be seen as a vicious dig at the decline of the alternative culture at the end of the 60s- it is made painfully clear that the brothers are ageing, impulsive, ignorant and utterly amoral, invariably subscribing to counter-culture beliefs only as far as it will net them free pharmaceuticals. On the other hand, it is a mark of what a Crapsack World the Brothers inhabit that they themselves come across as harmless, lovable buffoons. The real targets of the comic are right wing politics, surveillance state invasiveness and the mundane, destructive hyper consumer culture the Brothers' slapstick existence runs completely at odds to.

A film version has often been touted but has never materialised.

Compare and contrast Cheech and Chong.


The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers contains examples of:

  • All Just a Dream:
    • If the plot of a given episode gets way too crazy or disturbing, this sometimes comes up as the explanation (given the Brothers' addiction to weird substances, it makes sense).
    • One story from the early '70s has the trio staging a violent assault on a prison to free an incarcerated friend. Fat Freddy ends up cut off and bludgeoned to death by a horde of cops - but it's all just a dream, and Franklin is beating him with a rolled-up newspaper for eating a whole batch of hash cookies. Then, some seven years later, an extended story where they take a cross-country trip in a vintage RV ends in a full-scale riot at a Greenwich Village Halloween parade - but it's all just a dream, and Franklin is beating Freddy with a rolled-up newspaper ... implying everything that happened between the two stories was Fat Freddy dreaming.
  • Angrish: From issue #7:
    Phineas: Uh-oh! Here comes her father! He appears to be too engraged to speak articulately, and he has a pistol in his hand!
    Father: EEEEEUH! AAAAANGH!
  • Art Evolution: In the first comics the characters were drawn with bold outlines and very little cross-hatching as opposed to the latter classic style.
  • Art Shift: Usually used to illustrate particularly bad trips. In one notable example, the Brothers decide not to take drugs and end up trapped in an incredibly boring faux-photo comic style.
    • While Phineas waits in his car for an endless parade of pedestrians in his path, they become cartoony duck-men.
  • Bilingual Bonus: In The Idiots Abroad (part two), while visiting Cold War Moscow, Fat Freddy's suitcase accidentally bursts open in the middle of the street revealing a couple of American bluejeans inside. The Soviet crowd goes after them in a frenzy with several people muttering "HorrorShow!". An odd remark until you consider that Russian "хорошо" (which would mean "Allright!") may sound similar to "Horror show" to an American.
  • Chew Toy: Notorious Norbert the Nark of the Drug Enforcement Agency. In one story, Phineas slips him a drug consisting of an elephant laxative and a massive LSD dose. In another, he slits open the Brothers' inflatable couch looking for drugs, gets a blast of nitrous oxide gas, believes himself in Fluffy Cloud Heaven and ditches his gun and his clothes, ending up naked and humiliated at the local police station. In yet another story, when a girl brings a poorly-disguised Norbert to their apartment, the Brothers simply toss him out the window.
  • Compressed Abstinence: The Brothers (the Frisco hippies with attitude) once try going cold turkey from all recreational chemicals. After three miserable, horrible, tedious, dragging, hours, they give up and are seen snorting and ingesting every drug to hand as if their lives depended on it.
  • Counterfeit Cash:
    • In an All Just a Dream episode, Phineas gets a job as a printer. He starts printing fake bills, only for the FBI to burst in but they're looking for pornography, and don't care about the cash, because "that stuff soon won't be worth the paper it's printed on."
    • The brothers get in trouble in Mexico. Don Longjuan The Yaqui Brujo uses some real notes, a pair of scissors and a colour photocopier to make high-value fake notes (e.g. US$25,000) to bribe them out. By the time the fakes are detected, the brothers are well away.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Franklin and the Cat both live this trope.
  • Decade-Themed Party: A comic from the 1970s had the guys throwing a '50s-themed New Years party. Franklin is a holdout, declaring the decade "a drag", and as the story recalls their real '50s party some 15 years earlier, with its reckless drunkenness, sexual frustration, and violent, destructive juvenile delinquents, they decide to have a naked sex-and-drugs '60s-themed party instead.
  • Everybody Must Get Stoned: Everybody starts off stoned.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: In the very first strips Franklin's chin has no cleft.
  • Fat Idiot: Freddy, who frequently—and despite his roommates' warnings—gets "burned" when buying drugs, has stolen radioactive waste, fed LSD to bears, and is regularly outsmarted by his own cat.
  • Fingertip Drug Analysis: In one strip a Texan cop takes a taste from a jar containing STP-laced water from the Brothers' backseat and orders Phineas to drive after him to the station for a more official analysis of the substance. He then takes off at full speed into the horizon, leaving Phineas behind, dumbfounded.
  • Fluffy Dry Cat: Happens to Fat Freddy's Cat when the titular moggie becomes so revolting of smell that Freddy forcibly washes him, using perfumed soaps. Out on the street again, other tomcats make unwise snarky comments about FFC's gender preferences. FFC is pretty much in the mood for serious violence by then. Mayhem ensues.
  • "Groundhog Day" Loop: The Phineas Gets an Abortion story.
  • Higher Understanding Through Drugs: Averted. In contrast to many a story in other Underground Comics, the Brothers' drug use is purely recreational.
    • Subverted when Phineas discovers peyote buttons in the desert and, recalling Castaneda's The Teachings of Don Juan, ingests a few so that the cactus's spirit, Mescalito, will appear and reveal "the truth" to him. He then sees a giant, shotgun-wielding peyote plant and runs off screaming. It turns out to be a Native American man who uses the costume and firearm to keep hippies off his property.
    • The closest the series comes to a straight use of the trope is an early strip, not featuring any of the recurring characters, in which a chicken farmer takes LSD, becomes imbued with loving kindness, and sets his chickens free.
  • Jury Duty: Fat Freddy gets called for jury duty and eagerly anticipates the easy money, but his roommates warn him that potential jurors are sometimes dismissed based on their looks - so he slicks down his hair and puts on a suit to look super-straight...and the freak defense attorney dismisses him over his looks.
  • Lawyer-Friendly Cameo: When Fat Freddy gets a job as a department store Santa, the kids visiting him are unnamed cameos from Peanuts, Miss Peach, Dennis the Menace, etc. The fact that they're all asking for drug paraphernalia shocks even him.
  • Mad Scientist: Phineas, sometimes. He likes to invent things. Mostly, they backfire.
  • Malignant Plot Tumor: Every story usually starts off with the Brothers attempting to score drugs. By three quarters of the way through, they may be in the middle of a gold rush, trying to find their parents, or attempting to foil a military coup of the planet.
  • Mr. Seahorse: A particularly nightmarish adventure of Phineas's.

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