Gilbert Shelton was born in Houston, Texas in 1940. He spent his early years as a Explorer Scout, drawing cartoons for their publications, and continued this when he joined the Cartoonists Club at LaMar High School. Shelton went to the University of Texas in Austin, where he edited the student magazine, The Texas Ranger. After graduating history, he started over as an art student, but flunked. In interviews it's clear he didn't think much of his early work:
"I could copy drawings (...) I remember being in kindergarten at age five and having the teacher tell us to get out our paper and colors and draw a picture of anything we felt like drawing. I looked around to see what the other kids were drawing, and they all seemed to be doing a picture of a house with smoke curling up out of the chimney, a lollipop-shaped tree in the yard and the sun in the upper right-hand corner of the sky with lines emanating from it. So I drew the same thing. I knew that the windows of houses weren't supposed to be right up in the corners, but I drew them that way because the other kids did."
During the 1960ies, Shelton worked in New York with his friend Harvey Kurtzman on Help! magazine. He quickly moved back to Texas, though, where he worked on Wonder Wart-Hog Magazine with Joe E. Brown, Jr. and Tony Bell.
In 1968, Gilbert moved to San Francisco, where he attempted to get a job working on rock posters and the like. He changed his mind, though, when he saw Robert Crumb's Zap Comix, and he started Rip Off Press with some friends of his from Texas in 1969 (Incidentally, he had applied for a job at the American Greeting Card Company where Crumb worked at that time, but was turned down)
It was in 1968 that Gilbert invented The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers, the three hippie-stooges. They quickly became famous, and Shelton enrolled Dave Sheridan (creator of Dealer McDope) to help produce weekly strips for various papers. Paul Mavrides joined the team in 1978, and after Sheridan died in 1982, he and Shelton have been strictly a duo. Collections of the Freaks have been published since 1971.
In 1979, Universal Studios made a contract with Rip Off to make a Freak Brothers movie, and Shelton's copyright was transferred to Rip Off. The movie folded, and Shelton went to Europe to relieve the stress that the experience had created. He and his wife Lora Fountain lived in Spain until 1982‚ when they moved back to America because underground comics had begun to win acceptance. In 1985, they moved back to Europe, to live in Paris, while still visiting America on several occasions.
Gilbert Shelton has been retired from the Freak Brothers since 1991.
See also other Comics creators. Audited May 25, 2002