Black illustration of Gilbert Shelton's character Oat Willie on a green background
© GILBERT SHELTON 1971
Oat Willie was a comic character who became a mascot of Austin's 1960s underground culture. The character had his debut -and early demise- in a 1968 comic strip for an Austin underground newspaper. Oat Willie's creator, Gilbert Shelton, resurrected the character later that year to run him as a write-in candidate for Governor of Texas.
Supporters of Oat Willie's campaign often met at a local head shop called Underground City Hall. After the failed gubernatorial campaign, the character remained popular among the head shop's patrons. Underground City Hall later changed ownership and became known as Oat Willie's. The shop remains open to this day.