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Monday, October 06, 2008


First rearing their shaggy heads during the late 1960’s in the thick of the psychedelic era, Gilbert Shelton’s Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers could rightly be cited as the progenitors of Cheech & Chong’s pot-fueled comedy and stoner humor in general. Differing from much of the misogynistic and violent material found in the nascent underground genre by virtue of being legitimately funny as hell, the Freak Brothers slacked their way from one doped-up misadventure to another, frequently getting ripped off — “burned” in the hippie vernacular — by assorted lowlife dealers, mostly avoiding work and staying as completely stoned on all manner of illegal pharmaceuticals as possible.

Fat Freddy, Phineas and Freewheelin’ Franklin’s existence reads like a pothead sitcom, their world defined first in a series of short stories like the one chronicling Fat Freddy’s brief stint as a department store Santa Claus who takes Christmas requests for an assortment of drugs and paraphernalia from kids including Charlie Brown and Nancy (who hilariously and humbly desires no more than “a couple of tabs of acid”), or the memorable one-pager wherein the Freaks are hired by the City Parents Teachers Assembly to act in a public service film dramatizing “the truth about the killer weed Marijuana,” a film so over the top and devoid of anything resembling the real effects of smoking weed that it makes REEFER MADNESS appear the very model of documentary-style realism.

The later longer, even epic tales such as the spectacular “The Idiots Abroad” allow creator Gilbert Shelton to run buck-wild with the characters as the gags fly fast and furious. That said, this six-hundred-plus page omnibus edition collects the entirety of the Freak Brothers run, along with several short humor pieces and installments of the FAT FREDDY’S CAT strip, and at thirty-five bucks it’s a downright steal, so TRUST YER BUNCHE and order your copy today. It’s the perfect addition to the reading stack atop your toilet’s tank or proudly nestled on your coffee table, right next to your hookah and generous bag of Humboldt County Green. Oh, yeah...

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