Jim Franklin was born in Galveston, Texas in 1943. He studied at the San Francisco Art Institute, which he left early to move to New York. Eventually he returned to Texas, where he met a group of musicians and artists who opened the Vulcan Gas Company, a psychedelic music hall in Austin, and were associated with the band Mother Earth, for which Gilbert Shelton drew posters, a task he later gave to Jim Franklin. In 1968, Jim drew his first armadillo, and it soon became not only his trademark but also the symbol of Texas Hipsters.
When the Vulcan Gas Company closed in 1970, a new venue was opened and named the Armadillo World Head Quarters, for which Jim Franklin drew many impressive murals and designed posters. Around the same time, he produced his own underground comic, 'Armadillo Comics', a collection of comics and illustrations. In 1974, Jim Franklin opened his own music place, The Ritz Theater, but it closed after a year. Jim Franklin continues to paint and draw and do other art projects, like building curved and domed buildings and some performance art, in which he performs songs and paints on stage.