Colin’s Inkstuds Comics Review Day 6
Not Quite Dead #5 by Gilbert Shelton & “Pic”
I wonder how many people remember that during the hey-day of underground comix during the hippie days that Gilbert Shelton’s Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers were icons? The druggie adventures of those three stoners were essential reading for every discerning slacker and last time I looked you can still buy the latest reprint editions in Haight-Ashbury. Of course, once the flower children had cut their hair and got real jobs, what is an underground cartoonist to do? Well, obviously you move to France (where they appreciate comics) and carry on producing more Freak Brothers comics for the audience that remains. Over the years the comics appeared in colour and the stories became more elaborate as the Freak Brothers went on adventures to rival Carl Bark’s Scrooge McDuck (only with drugs), often in collaboration with cartoonist Paul Mavrides. More recently Shelton has been collaborating with the French cartoonist “Pic” on Not Quite Dead, which despite what you might think isn‘t strictly speaking a Grateful Dead parody. Not Quite Dead are an aging American (even if the backgrounds sometimes looks more like Paris than New York) rock band who’s glory days are long behind them and are now willing to take on just about any gigs doing covers to earn some money. The drug humour has been replaced with jokes about hecklers, bad gigs, onstage accidents and the technical aspects of rock ’n’ roll… Shelton has always had a fascination with technology and Rube Goldberg-like inventions. The comic consists of half to one page gags and several longer stories. The comic is at it’s best on the longer pieces where Shelton (I’m not sure where the division of labour is between Shelton and “Pic”) displays the wicked social satire that he’s been doing since the Wonder Warthog days of the 1960’s. The artwork is big foot cartoony but tight. Like the band, Gilbert Shelton may not be as visible in the American comics scene as he used to be, the copy I have was published by the British outfit Knockabout Comics, but I’m sure he wants you to know that he is also Not Quite Dead.
Colin (I was in a rock band once, really) Upton