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Gilbert Shelton (born May 31, 1940, Houston, Texasmarker) is an Americanmarker cartoonist and underground comix artist. He is the creator of The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers, Fat Freddy's Cat, Wonder Wart-Hog, Not Quite Dead, and the cover art to The Grateful Dead's 1978 album Shakedown Street.

He graduated from Lamar High School in Houston. He attended Washington and Lee Universitymarker, Texas A&M Universitymarker, and the University of Texas at Austinmarker, where he received his bachelor's degree in the social sciences in 1961. His early cartoons were published in the University of Texas' humor magazine The Texas Ranger.

Directly after graduation, Shelton moved to New York Citymarker and got a job editing automotive magazines, where he would sneak his drawings into print. The idea for the character of Wonder Wart-Hog, a porcine parody of Superman, came to him in 1961. The following year, Shelton moved back to Texasmarker to enroll in graduate school and get a student deferment from the draft. The first two Wonder Wart-Hog stories appeared in Bacchanal, a short-lived college humor magazine, in the spring of 1962. He then became editor of The Texas Ranger and published more Wonder Wart-Hog stories.

After switching from graduate school to art school (where he befriended singer Janis Joplin) for two years, he was finally drafted, but Army doctors declared him medically unfit after he admitted to taking psychedelic drugs. After this, in 1964 and 1965, he spent some time in Clevelandmarker, where his girlfriend at the time was going to the Cleveland Art Institute. He applied for a job at the Cleveland-based American Greeting Card Company (where a fellow underground comic artist Robert Crumb had worked) but was turned down.

Around this time Shelton became art director for the Vulcan Gas Company, a rock music venue in Austin, Texasmarker, where he worked with Jim Franklin. He created a number of posters in the style of contemporary California poster artists such as Victor Moscoso and Rick Griffin. After a year of this, he moved to San Franciscomarker in the summer of 1968, hopeful that being closer to the action would enable him to do more poster work; as it turned out, he finally got his break in the alternative comix business.

That same year, Millar Publishing Company, who had been publishing regular Wonder Wart-Hog stories since 1966, published two issues of Wonder Wart-Hog Quarterly. 140,000 copies of each were printed, but distributors did not pick up the magazine, and only 40,000 of each were sold.

After a strip named Feds 'n' Heads (published by Print Mint), Gilbert created his most famous strip, The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers in 1968, and a spin-off strip, Fat Freddy's Cat in 1969, when he also co-founded Rip Off Press.

Shelton currently lives in Parismarker, Francemarker. His most recent work, in collaboration with French cartoonist Pic, is Not Quite Dead, which appeared in Rip Off Comix #25 and in five Not Quite Dead comic books. In addition to a new Wonder Wart-Hog story in Zap Comix #15 (2005), his Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers are currently being turned into a stop-motion animated film.

Resources

  • "Gilbert Shelton Interviewed by Frank Stack". The Comics Journal. Retrieved Sep. 23, 2004.


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