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freak brothers 6 1st
solid writing
exceptional art
historical bonus 4
total score 9
The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers #6
1st Printing / June, 1980 / 52 pages / Rip Off Press
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In the late '70s, Rip Off Press was focused on launching and producing their anthology series Rip Off Comix, so the Freak Brothers' title took a three-year break from publishing. However, Gillbert Shelton produced several Freak Brothers stories for the Rip Off Comix series, and by 1980 they had built up enough Freak comics to populate the sixth issue of The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers. So all of the stories in this issue are reprinted from the anthology series, but Rip Off Press never let an opportunity to generate revenue pass them by!

As promised by the front cover, Freak Brothers #6 delivers six short stories, the longest (and perhaps the best) being the first, "The Parakeet that Outwitted the D.E.A." The first two stories (the second being "Phineas Goes to the Store!") were not written by Shelton, but by Joe Brown and Don Baumgart. The third story, "He Who Hesitates," was written by Shelton but based on a true-life experience of Manfred Mroczkowski. Shelton and Paul Mavrides take the end of that story and make it the centerpiece of the next one, "The 4th Freak Brother," in which a cop traumatized by a traffic accident and plagued with drug-induced amnesia temporarily joins the Freaks on drug shipment escapade.

The fifth story is about the Brothers joining a slow-pitch softball league (each on a different team) and Freewheelin' Franklin starts betting on the best team in the league, leading to a climactic conflict at the end. The final story is one of the Freaks' most popular tales, "The Death of Fat Freddy." Fear not; though Freddy is definitely buried, he's not quite dead.

Freak Brothers #6 is a solid effort with six entertaining stories, but it's not on the same level as the remarkable "Grass Roots" issue that preceded it. The scripting and artwork in Freak Brothers #6 is very good as always, but the stories lack some of the inventiveness and the showcase pages that marked the very best Freak Brothers stories.

It is interesting that this issue provides the first depiction of punk rock fans as supporting characters. The back cover also pimps a cool poster of "The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers' Urban Paradise," a rooftop masterpiece that invites careful study of its detailed environment. The poster was evidently inspired by a brilliant series of fantastic and highly imaginative Rip Off Press office buildings that Shelton illustrated for the back covers of early Rip Off Comix issues.
There are nine printings of this comic book, all by Rip Off Press. It is currently unknown how many copies were produced during any of the printings, and by 1980 I'm guessing Rip Off wasn't still printing 50,000 copies per run, but I could be wrong. The print editions are easy to tell apart, since each one has a distinct cover price, which are identified below:

1st printing: $1.25 cover price.
2nd printing: $1.50 cover price.
3rd printing: Two versions; one with a $2.00 cover price in a purple circle, one with a $2.00 cover price in a purple circle along with a $2.75 price for sale in Canada.
4th printing: $2.25 cover price.
5th printing: $2.50 cover price.
6th printing: $2.95 cover price.
7th printing: $3.25 cover price.
8th printing: $3.95 cover price.
9th printing: $4.95 cover price.
Gilbert Shelton - 1, 2, 3-23 (art), 24-26, 27-43 (collaboration), 44, 45-50 (collaboration), 51, 52
Joe Brown - 3-18 (story)
Don Baumgart - 19-23 (story)
Manfred Mroczkowski - 24-26 (concept)
Paul Mavrides - 27-43 (collaboration), 45-50 (collaboration)

2nd Printing
$1.50 cover.