Cannabis Comics: Undergound Art of the 1960's and '70s

Images retrieved from Further Adventures of Those Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers by Gilbert Sherman, and Zap Comix by Robert Crumb.

Marijuana was the muse for many underground funnies that emerged in the 1960's and '70s.

The late '60s and early '70s were the heyday of underground comics. Here illustrators were free to create satires about the counterculture, and drugs, of course, were part of it. But as Mark James Estern points out in A History of Underground Comics, , it wasn't always necessary to be stoned to enjoy them. Robert Crumb, the most famous underground cartoonist, creator of Fritz the Cat, the Zap and Snatch comics, and the Cheap Thrills album cover for Big Brother and the Holding Company, drew hilarious, often sexually charged art. Dope was also one of Crumb's favourite subjects, which he treated with slightly more subtley than other illustrators of the time. In 1971, he created HOME GROWN FUNNIES with such memorable characters as Mary jane and Kilroy. Crumb now resides in France.

The lovable FABULOUS FURRY FREAK BROTHERS, created by Gilbert Shelton and first published in a comic book Rip Off Press in 1970, are the stoned equivalent of the Keystone Cops. Constantly involved in one zany adventure after another, usually involving drugs, the Freak Brothers are still alive and kicking in the '90s.

In fact, in The Adventures of Mavrides and Shelton, the brothers are judges of fine connoisseur pot at the 3rd Annual High Times Cannabis Cup in Amsterdam.

The first cover for DOPE COMIX, published by Kitchen Sink Press, was more obvious than others in its reference to drugs. Drawn by Leslie Cabarga, who is probably most famous for reviving Betty Boo, it resembles the style of the Fleischer Brothers, creator of Betty. Kitchen Sink Press, founded by Denis Kitchen, published underground comics for 30 years before going out of business in 1999.

Last Gasp Publishing. Cover Number 4. The first cover for TOONEY LOONS AND MARIJUANA MELODIES by Kenneth P. Greene.

pp.119-121 Highlights by Carol Sherman & Andrew Smith with Erik Tanner