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freak brothers 4 1st
brilliant writing
masterpiece art
historical bonus 5
total score 10
The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers #4
1st Printing / 1975 / 52 pages / Rip Off Press
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After Freak Brothers #3 was published in 1973, Gilbert Shelton had recycled most of his existing Freak Brothers srips into comic books, leaving very little stuff for a fourth issue. It was 1974, and the golden era of underground comics was over, scuttled by the Supreme Court's landmark ruling on obscenity and further strained by the great newsprint shortage of 1973. Shelton and Rip Off Press (which he co-founded in 1969) could have packed up the Freak Brothers franchise and settled for reprinting the first three issues into perpetuity. It was a great run and they'd sold truck loads of The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers.

But they didn't do that. No, the Freak Brothers were far too popular to let them fade into historical obscurities. Instead, Shelton recruited Dave Sheridan (Mother's Oats Comix, Tales from the Leather Nun) to help him with the artwork and wrote enough new stories for another 52-page Freak Brothers comic book. The book was finally completed and published in 1975, satisfying legions of Freak Brothers fans across the globe. The first printing was 100,000 copies, a solid number matching some of the better-selling overground comic titles from the same era (yet selling for three times the standard cover price of overground comics).

Freak Brothers #4 is a great comic book featuring a slew of one-pagers and one classic epic, "The 7th Voyage, A Mexican Odyssey." In this 24-page adventure, the Freak Brothers travel to Mexico to pick up some weed and encounter one mishap after another. The story certainly ranks, along with "Grass Roots" and The Idiots Abroad, as one of the all-time great long-form Freak Brothers stories.
There are nine printings of this comic book, all by Rip Off Press. Unlike every other Freak Brothers issue documented in his Price Guide (which have no quantities cited for any of the printings), Jay Kennedy reports that the 1st printing was 100,000 copies. It is currently unknown how many copies were produced during any of the other printings, but I would guess Rip Off printed at 50,000 copies or more for the early printings (up to the 6th or 7th), given the track record for previous sales. It seems strange to me that this issue is the only one of the 14 Freak Brothers comic books that is currently out of print (the others are available at the Freak Brothers Factory Store for $4.95 each). The print editions are easy to tell apart, since each one has a distinct cover price, which are identified below:

1st printing: 75-cent cover price.
2nd printing: Two versions; one with a $1.00 cover price, one with no cover price.
3rd printing: $1.25 cover price.
4th printing: $1.50 cover price.
5th printing: Two versions; one with a $2.00 cover price in a white circle, one with a $2.00 cover price in a blue circle along with a $2.75 price for sale in Canada.
6th printing: $2.50 cover price.
7th printing: $2.95 cover price.
8th printing: $3.25 cover price.
9th printing: $3.95 cover price.

Gilbert Shelton - 1-52 (all stories and art collaboration)
Dave Sheridan - 1-52 (art collaboration)

freakbrothers4-2nd _ freakbrothers4-4th
2nd Printing
$1.00 cover or no
cover price (this version has no cover price).
4th Printing
$1.50 cover.