February 18, 2018


Gilbert Shelton

By Dan Epstein


DE: Did Harvey Kurtzman mentor you on HELP magazine?

GS: Harvey Kurtzman was very helpful to everybody.

DE: They say the marijuana now is much stronger than it used to be. Would you have done as much work with todayís pot?

GS: Sure. Just wouldn't have to smoke so much, if it's stronger.

DE: You werenít a big superhero fan. Where did the inspiration for Wonder Warthog come from?

GS: Wonder Wart-Hog started out as a parody of Superman, and then he took on a life of his own.

DE: You were editor of a University of Texas humor rag, The Texas Ranger, in 1963-64. Did that spark your rebellious nature?

GS: During my time as editor of The Texas Ranger we were still kept under pretty tight control by the Board of Directors and the business staff of Texas Student Publications, Incorporated. Not that we didn't give them all the rebellion they needed.

DE: What made you first move to San Francisco?

GS: I went to San Francisco on vacation and just stayed.

DE: Iíve heard that when you founded Rip Off Press there were a few long hair incidents. What happened?

GS: A couple of guys got their long hair caught in the printing presses. That's all I remember. No one was seriously injured.

DE: Is "Dope gets you through times of no money better than money gets you through times of no dope" still true?

GS: You'll find out, when all your money becomes worthless.

DE: What was your reaction when the French government paid to use Fat Freddy as part of an AIDS-awareness campaign?

GS: The French government subsidizes all sorts of things, all the way down to comic book publishing. Seems normal to me.

DE: The case when Britain tried to declare the Freak Brothers obscene on the grounds that mention of drugs tended to deprave and corrupt readers. The case was lost, but it was expensive for you. Was it worth it and how?

GS: The confiscation in 1982 of their stock by the police nearly ruined my British publisher, Knockabout Comics. It took them a year to get their books back.

DE: You flunked art in college. How did you train yourself?

GS: My real education at the University of Texas was not my official subject: history. What I spent all my time doing was working for the student humor magazine, The Ranger, mostly drawing cartoons. I did flunk one art course, which caused me to flunk out of school, but I did learn some things from art courses that I managed to pass.

DE: What did Janis Joplin say when you told her she should move from folk singing to rock'n' roll?

GS: Yes, back in 1962 when we were students together at the University of Texas. And she scolded me, saying, "We FOLK ARTISTS don't DO rock."

DE: Did you ever hang with people like Crumb and Harvey Pekar?

GS: I see Robert Crumb from time when he's passing through Paris. I've only met Harvey Pekar once, years ago in New York.

DE: Was Graveyard Ghosts the first book you did inspired by France? Will there be more?

GS: Graveyard Ghosts was only two pages. I've done a few other pages on French topics, but not very much.

DE: How does your music influence your art and vice versa?

GS: There's not much direct influence or connection, except for comic strips made from song lyrics, and those are sort of a rarity.

DE: You used to take a lot of jokes from Archie comics and other sources, substitute marijuana instead and turn it into a Freak Brothers strip. Any repercussions from that?

GS: I never took anything from Archie! Reader's Digest, maybe...

DE: Have you been using the computer for music or comics recently?

GS: Not me. But Pic is using the computer to do color work on our rock 'n' roll strip, NOT QUITE DEAD.

DE: What happened with Film Roman turning the Freak Brothers into a cartoon and is Simpsons director Mike B. Anderson still involved with the project?

GS: Mike Anderson wrote a screenplay, and the Film Roman artists made a few trial drawings of the Freak Brothers, but the project has been dead for a couple of years now.

DE: How did the Official Freak Bros. poster for World Cup soccer poster come about?

GS: That was an idea from my French publisher, Ferid Kaddour of TÍte Rock Underground in Paris.

DE: Do you still do drugs?

GS: I can assure you that I would never, ever, answer such a question.


There is a new collection of Freak Brothers material out:

The Complete Freak Brothers Volume #1

This weighty tome contains 432 pages of Freak Brothers

Check out www.ripoffpress.com for more information

Rip Off Press
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