a zen fable by fred schrier

I DON’T MUCH LIKE MUCH OF THE ARTWORK that is considered psychedelic that has been done since the ’80s. For me, the perfection of modern psychedelic art loses the kinesthesia of the acid experience and leaves me (and that is me by my “i”-less self living my Zen fable) devoid of any cosmic-consciousness resonance (my term). 1

An exception—and there may be MANY exceptions ODF which I am unaware—is the artist who signs his work “ekislev.” And the guy is a blewdy ‘digital artist’ to boot! 2

Schrier’s few strips on his own are among the most fantastic comix work of the late ’60s and early ’70s!

Finally, the book Psychedelic Art by Robert and Masters and Jean Houston (1968) is a great source for seeing the kind of art considered mind-expanding then. Unfortunately, there is no website for this book to which I can direct you.

If I may recommend a personal fave artist: underground comix artist Fred Schrier. His solo work and his collaborations with Dave Sheridan capture the surreal and often whimsical aspects of ‘the experience’ rarely noted by other artists—and never by the anti-psychedelic crowd.

Perhaps Schrier’s best known strip is “A Zen Fable” from Meef Comix #2 (May 1973). Under-rated! Under-appreciated!! Under-acknowledged!!! Yadda yadda and perhaps my faveravest of all legitimate underground comix artists of the ’60s and ’70s. Here it is is its glorious fullness . . .





I debated the borders around the pages; I could have left them borderless and then you would see what Schrier put onto his bristol board. (And it would have felt more appropriate to a zen fable . . .) The page above would have a more organic look and feel to it. But I finally decided that the borders are what Schrier was imagining as he drew and it does make the four pages look like pages from a comix.

Fred Schrier as psychedelic artist extraordinaire

Fred Schrier is a rather mysterious figure: he came into the field and made a name for himself working with Dave Sheridan, already an underground legend for his Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers and Fat Freddy’s nameless cat. Schrier’s few strips on his own are among the most fantastic comix work of the late ’60s and early ’70s—in all five meanings of the word fantastic:

1a) “based on or existing only in fantasy”;
1b) “s
trange or fanciful in form, conception, or appearance”;
2a) “u
nrealistic; irrational”;
2b) “e
xceedingly great in size or degree”; and
3a) “w
onderful or superb; remarkable”! 3

But he remained a fringe player and his career in comix was short-lived. Here is the bio on him in Wikipedia:

“Fred Schrier is an artist, writer, and animator, best known as partner to the underground comic book artist Dave Sheridan. Together, using the name Overland Vegetable Stagecoach, they worked on Meef Comix, three issues of Mother’s Oats Funnies, Skull Comics #1, and The Balloon Vendor, which were all published by underground comics pioneers San Francisco Comic Book Company and Rip Off Press.

He and Sheridan were also featured in Slow Death Funnies #1, published by Last Gasp, and Yellow Dog #19, published by The Print Mint. Sheridan died of cancer at the age of 38 in 1982. An obituary by Schrier was published in the ACE periodical Changeling Times, decorated with their artwork.

Schrier has also been an illustrator of children’s books, notably Let’s Jump! by Donna Lugg Pape, and Amazing Science Tricks for Boys’ Life Magazine. He has been the animator for the Cleveland Indians Stadium scoreboard, winning him a “thanks” credit in the 1994 motion picture Major League II.”

Finally, this article originally appeared as “ping-ting tung-tzu comes for fire” on my other site, Neal Umphred Dot Com, on August 16, 2013. It has been expanded and modified here, primarily by including all four pages of the comix.

That’s it on Fred Schrier!


1   It is often far too much technique for my druthers: the extraordinarily talented Alex Grey is the best and the most obvious example—and the most successful.

2   Give his work a look-see in this article: evgeny kiselev and the invisible landscape.

3   I used the Free Dictionary here instead of my usual go-to dictionary Merriam-Webster because the FD definition better serves my needs in this instance.


Comments, suggestions, additions, and arguments welcome!