Gilbert Shelton, born in Houston in 1940. is generally regarded as Austin's first modern poster artist because of his extensive work with Austin’s The Vulcan Gas Company, including the logo and the grand opening poster. He is an American cartoonist and key member of the underground comix movement. He is the creator of the iconic underground characters The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers, Fat Freddy's Cat, and Wonder Wart-Hog.
In the early Sixties, Shelton was an editor of the University of Texas student humor magazine, the Texas Ranger. At the Ranger, he met Tony Bell and Lieuen Adkins, both of whom collaborated with him over the years on assorted posters and comic strips. In 1968, after creating a couple dozen colorful posters and handbills, and producing an underground comic entitled "Feds and Heads," Shelton followed Austin adventurers like Chet Helms, Janis Joplin, Travis Rivers (The Oracle, Big Brother and the Holding Company), Bob Simmons (KSAN, Soundproof), Powell St. John (Mother Earth), and Jaxon to San Francisco. It was there in 1969, with Jaxon, Dave Moriarty, and Fred Todd, that Shelton founded the Rip Off Press.
The first two Wonder Wart-Hog stories appeared in Bacchanal, a short-lived college humor magazine, in the spring of 1962. That same year, he published (in zine form) Frank Stack's The Adventures of Jesus, one of the first underground comix. Shelton then became editor of The Texas Ranger and published more Wonder Wart-Hog stories.
At the Vulcan, where he worked with Jim Franklin, he created a number of posters in the style of contemporary California poster artists such as Victor Moscoso and Rick Griffin. In 1968 Shelton self-published Feds 'n' Heads, a collection of strips first published in the Austin underground paper The Rag. Feds 'n' Heads featured Wonder Wart-Hog and what became his most famous strip, The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers. Shelton created a spin-off strip, Fat Freddy's Cat in 1969, when he also co-founded Rip Off Press with three fellow ex-pat Texans: Fred Todd, Dave Moriaty, and cartoonist Jack ‘Jaxon’ Jackson.
Shelton was also a regular contributor to Zap Comix and other underground titles, including Bijou Funnies, Yellow Dog, Arcade, The Rip Off Review of Western Culture, and Anarchy Comics He did the cover art for the 1973 album Doug Sahm and Band, as well as The Grateful Dead's 1978 album, Shakedown Street. Fifty Freakin' Years with the Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers was published in 2017, containing new strips by Shelton, as well as his written introduction.