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Comicbook: The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers

"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:

  • 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 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.
  • Bloody Hilarious
  • 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.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive
  • 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.
  • Fat Idiot: Freddy, who frequently—and despite his roommates' warnings—gets "burned" when buying drugs, has stolen radioactive waste, fed acid to bears, and is regularly outsmarted by his own cat.
  • 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 lovingkindness, and sets his chickens free.
  • Immune to Drugs
  • Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain: The relentlessly enthusiastic and naive Norbert the Nark.
  • Inherent in the System
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Mushroom Samba: Frequent.
  • My Girl Is a Slut: Virtually every woman is an airheaded, balloon boobed bimbo, although in fairness the men don't come across any better.
  • Nonindicative Name: The comic has nothing to do with the Furry Fandom and is, in fact, older than it. Also, the title characters aren't siblings.
  • Police Are Useless: Fortunately they are also the villains.
  • Refuge in Audacity: How the Brothers' escape every sticky situation.
  • Shout-Out: During Fat Freddy's wake, we see several comics creators mourning his death. Some of these, including Robert Crumb, Aline Kominsky-Crumb and Spain Rodriguez, are drawn in the artists' trademark styles (which makes sense considering that Crumb and Kominsky are known for their autobiographical work).
  • Sinister Surveillance: Every rooftop bristles with antennae and dishes, and the narks are always listening in.
  • The Smart Guy: Phineas, who once became the most powerful man on Earth through the use of a modem.
  • Snarky Non-Human Sidekick: Fat Freddy's cat, who in between sleeping on his master's face and defecating in his clothes wages war with the fascist cockroaches living under the fridge.
  • STD Immunity: Averted by Fat Freddy in "Fat Freddy Gets the Clap" from issue #0.
  • The Stoic: Franklin, although such are the situations he regularly finds himself in he's less stoic than he'd like to believe he is.
  • Strawman Political: The state governor is called Rodney Richpigge.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: The Brothers frequently put each other down and even beat each other up. Nevertheless, whenever they're separated, intentionally or otherwise, they end up missing each other before long.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: When their gas is turned off because they never pay the bill, they start heating with wood instead. Which Freddy gets by cutting down all the trees in the park. This was before a widespread ecological movement, but still.
  • Zany Scheme: Many a story involves the Brothers' attempts to get or produce free drugs, energy, or other commodities; to evade the authorities, or other objectives.

Elvis ShruggedU.S./Canadian ComicsAmerican Born Chinese
The CreeperThe SixtiesUltron

alternative title(s): The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers
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