The Hog of Steel.

In a previous post I talked a bit about a famous Underground Cartoonist and comic book artist Gilbert Shelton. Gilbert created The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers, a send-up of the then newly forming phenomenon of the stoner/hippie. Set in San Francisco in the early 1970s, Gilbert's creation proved extremely popular, lasting all these decades right on up to 2021 where it was made into a short-running cartoon series featuring the voice of Woody Harrelson.

In addition to The Freak Brothers, Gilbert also created the best answer to the Super Hero: Wonder Wart Hog, the Hog of Steel! It first appeared in 1961 in a magazine called Bacchanal. Bacchanal was created with the help of some guys who worked on a humor magazine The Texas Ranger, which was distributed to the U of Texas student body. Wonder Wart Hog re-appears several times over the years, eventually getting its own comic book. Wonder Wart Hog's origin mimics Superman's to a T: sent to Earth as a baby from the doomed planet 'Squootpeep' he is raised from a piglet/human by hillbillies. He later adopts a normal everyday persona Philip Desanex, a mild mannered staff person for the local newspaper. He keeps his eyes on his love interest: the icy cold Lois Lamebrain, a spoof of Lois Lane.

Now, being Wonder Wart Hog existed in the Undergrounds, along side Robert Crumb and the ilk, you can expect his stories to get to the gross and violent kind, which they do. The whole point at the time was to counteract the force of conservatism to emphasize conformity and not to call out or draw attention to oneself. The spirit of the Undergrounds, to me at least, was to intentionally go the other way and display whatever gross or obscene thing you had rattling around in your subconscious. Art as protest, in a similar vein that Ed Roth, tired of hearing the screams and shouts emanating from nearby Disneyland one day at lunch scribbled HIS idea of a cartoon rodent not named Mickey: The Rat Fink.

Have a great weekend!

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