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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 Underground Comics 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 Freekowski, Phineas Phreakers and Freewheelin' Franklin Freek. Invariably broke and struggling to avoid a hippie's 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 aging, impulsive, ignorant and utterly amoral, invariably subscribing to counterculture 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-consumerist culture the Brothers' slapstick existence runs completely at odds to.

A film version has often been touted but has never materialised (with an exception to "Up In Flames", a poorly made porn "parody"). Some animated shorts, featuring the voices of John Goodman, Woody Harrelson, and Pete Davidson, have appeared on YouTube. In 2021, a new animated series starring Goodman, Harrelson, and Davidson appeared on the free streaming service Tubi. The series titled "The Freak Brothers" involves the titular characters ending up in, and attempting to adjust to, the 2020s after smoking such a powerful strain of weed that it leaves them in a Convenient Coma for over half a century.

Compare and contrast Cheech & 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.
  • Animals Lack Attributes: Totally averted with Fat Freddy's Cat.
  • 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!
  • 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 "Good!") sounds 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.
  • Disney Villain Death: Inverted at the end of "The Idiots Abroad." The villains get flung into space instead.
  • Everybody Must Get Stoned: Everybody starts off stoned.
  • Everyone Has Standards: There are drugs (heroin and speed) that even the Brothers won't do.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: In the very first strips Franklin's chin has no cleft.
    • The first appearance of Norbert the Nark gives him dark hair, a large nose, and a weak chin. By his second appearance he's got a blond pompadour, a smaller nose, and a Lantern Jaw of Justice.
  • 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.
  • Gag Nose: Shelton liked drawing them on many male characters, but Franklin and especially Phineas are the standouts (as it were).
  • "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.
  • I'll Take Two Beers Too: Phineas cooks a big meal. The other two are still hungry afterwards, and Phineas reveals how much (appetite-stimulating) dope was in it. Cut to a burger stand:
    Franklin: Three cheeseburgers, and make it snappy.
    Fat Freddy: Three more for me too!
    Phineas: And me!
  • Immune to Drugs: The Freaks don't usually act any different than they usually do when they use drugs. Though this might be because they're high all the time. They also never seem to suffer any potential ill effect, with the exception of "The Death of Fat Freddy," where Fat Freddy OD's and dies. He actually just temporarily fell into a coma.
  • Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain: The relentlessly enthusiastic and naive Norbert the Nark.
  • 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.
  • Mathematician's Answer: While driving through Mexico, Franklin is asked where they are. He replies "Directly above the centre of the earth."
  • Mister Seahorse: A particularly nightmarish adventure of Phineas's.
  • Mood Whiplash: The Story "The Death of Fat Freddy" has a variety of moods. Phineas and Franklin find Fat Freddy apparently dead from an overdose of something, and have to hold a wake and bury him without alerting the authorities. It starts off as tragedy, moves into black comedy, and ends with Freddy rising from the grave (he wasn't dead, just comatose).
    Franklin: Be careful, next time we might cremate.
  • 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.
  • Pre Ass Kicking One Liner: Phineas gets confronted by a swarm of tiny clones of himself: "Taste the stainless blade of liberalism, you arrogant bunch of Stalinists!"
  • Refuge in Audacity: How the Brothers' escape every sticky situation.
  • Reminder Failure: The titular brothers are alarmed to hear the police can break into homes without knocking, so they booby trap the apartment with falling bowling balls, high-voltage wires - then they have Fat Freddy go to the store, telling him "Don't forget to be careful coming back in". He walks along repeating the mantra...then forgets what he was going to get. He rushes back in to ask and sets off the traps.
  • 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.
  • Stock Ness Monster: In one episode, Franklin is attacked by whole swarm of Loch Ness Monsters. "Only an inch long, but icky as Hell!"
  • 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.
  • Stoners Are Funny: The reason this comic exists.
  • Strawman Political: The state governor is called Rodney Richpigge. He's a Ronald Reagan Expy.
  • Very Special Episode: "Fat Freddy Gets the Clap" for VD.
  • 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.