Today on April 20, High Times and The Freak Brothers are proud to announce a limited edition collaboration, celebrating 45 years between two iconic cannabis brands that have stood the test of time. This unique collaboration represents the intersection of two pioneering publications that tested the scope of what printed material can get away with regarding cannabis and psychedelics.
The Freak Brothers animated adaptation debuted on Tubi in November 2021, and was remarkably successful in the highly competitive world of streaming series. The voice cast is stellar. It’s the story of three hippies—Freewheelin’ Franklin Freek (Woody Harrelson), Fat Freddy Freekowtski (John Goodman), Phineas T. Phreakers (Pete Davidson)—who embark on pot-fueled adventures, and you’ll also see plenty of their cat Kitty (Tiffany Haddish). Blake Anderson and Adam Devine also voice roles as modern day stoners Chuck and Charlie, and there are also voice roles from Andrea Savage, La La Anthony, and rapper ScHoolboy Q.
The Freak Brothers graced the cover of High Times magazine multiple times, including the 18th issue in February 1977, just three years into publication, which is the design of some of the new merchandise.
“It’s great to see two of the most iconic and OG brands in the cannabis world celebrating a relationship that has spanned nearly 50 years,” The Freak Brothers Head of Marketing Greg Goldner told High Times. “As we’ve brought The Freak Brothers back in a big way with our adult animated TV series, it’s very cool to be able to continue the relationships that Gilbert Shelton built decades ago.”
The new collection includes snapback hats as well as limited edition T-shirts and hoodies. The hoodies feature the classic Freak Brothers slogan, “Dope will get you through times of no money better than money will get you through times of no dope.”
The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers, the original underground comic book first appeared in May 1968, created by Shelton. Underground comics or comix challenged the integrity of freedom of the press in ways that hadn’t been tested, providing controversial cannabis and psychedelic content—several years before the first issue of High Times in 1974.
The characters were created by Gilbert Shelton, and it was written and drawn in part by fellow underground comix pioneer Paul Mavrides. Mavrides is also a founding member of the Church of the SubGenius, the parody church that uses the Sherlock pipe-smoking icon J. R. “Bob” Dobbs. In 1997, Mavrides won a landmark case for artists’ rights in California that established a legal equivalency between written-word authors and cartoonists.
“I worked with Gilbert Shelton for over 25 years on The Freak Brothers, co-writing and drawing the strip with him,” Paul Mavrides told High Times in a statement. “I was at the meeting at the National Alternative and Underground Press Convention held in Boulder, Colorado in the early 1970’s—1973, I think—where Tom Forçade publicly announced the founding of High Times magazine. I still have the initial silver cover High Times sample issue he handed me.”
The Freak Brothers team, coincidentally, was also involved with some of the first High Times Cannabis Cup competitions, back when it was headquartered in Amsterdam—one of the only places that would allow it at the time.
“I also was a ‘celebrity’ judge along with Gilbert at Amsterdam’s 1990 Third Cannabis Cup Competition, sponsored by High Times magazine. A most enjoyable trip!” Madrives continued. “Man, I can still remember most of it despite the strength of the samples we were foolishly given. I was rolling eight inch joints as thick as my thumb in my hotel room—taking a few hits and tossing them out the window. By Day 2 there were so many joints in the alley outside of my hotel room window, that some guys, not too different looking than the actual Freak Brothers, started gathering waiting on me to drop the next one.”
The Freak Brothers franchise was well known within circles of heads including European smokers in Amsterdam. The first Cannabis Cup took place in 1988, launched by then-High Times editor Steve Hager.
“And when the contest was over, the Dutch Customs Police delayed my flight home for a half hour just so they could sarcastically tell me how all the drug police in Amsterdam were big fans of the Freak Brothers,” Mavrides added.
So Mavrides and Shelton decided to memorialize the event for a special look inside High Times magazine, years before even the first state medical cannabis laws were in place.
“We produced a three-page story for High Times about our experiences at the Cup (‘The Adventures of Mavrides & Shelton At the 3rd Annual High Times Magazine Indoor Grass Growing Competition’) as well as a Freak Brothers painting for the front cover of the Nov. 1990 issue (Gilbert and I worked on the sketch and I did the acrylic painting based on it). The strip covers our actual experiences at the Cup as they happened.”
Shelton also was involved with a number of High Times related projects over the years. He co-founded Rip Off Press in 1969, and published several other comix such as Wonder Wart-Hog and contributed to the notorious Zap Comix.
“Mavrides and I were invited by High Times to be the judges for a marijuana seed grower’s contest,” Gilbert Shelton said in 2013. “When we arrived in Amsterdam they gave us each thirty samples to smoke in five days. Six per day. By the time I’d smoked three puffs of the first one I was so stoned that I couldn’t tell the difference and I gave them all the same score. But Mavrides smoked all of the samples and wrote a lengthy critique of each one.”
Below is a list of several items that are available, all featuring the lovable characters from The Freak Brothers on the cover of High Times.
A custom rope snapback hat that’s inspired by the 1977 High Times cover featuring the iconic artist Gilbert Shelton’s Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers. The embroidered details pay homage to both OG cannabis brands, High Times and The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers.
Limited Edition Tee (Retail $29.99)
Classic fit premium ring spun cotton with the February 1977 High Times cover featuring Gilbert Shelton’s Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers.
Limited Edition Hoodie (Retail $49.99)
Elevated classic fit midweight ring spun cotton hoodie with the legendary Freak Brothers Dope Quote on the front in puff ink. The back of the hoodie is a screen print of the February 1977 High Times cover featuring Gilbert Shelton’s Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers.
Merch is available at thefreakbrothers.com