This Dutch expert authority on underground comics, graphic novels, and autobiographical comics whose founder, Sir Cornelius 'Kees' Kousemaker, was the recipient of the highly prestigious Order of Orange-Nassau medal from the Netherlands, maintains one of the longest running website resources about comics and cartoonist in the world. Lambiek says this about Joel Beck:"Joel Beck was one of the earliest artists of the underground comix. Together with Frank Stack ('New Adventures of Jesus', 1962) and Jaxon ('God Nose', 1964) Beck can even be considered the earliest genuine underground comics artist in history (not counting prototypical samples like Ernest Riebes 'Mr. Block' (1912) and the infamous Tijuana Bibles from the 1930s and 1940s). The comic strip that gave him this historical importance is 'Lenny of Laredo' (1965), a satirical rags to riches story about a foul-mouthed comedian obviously modeled after cult humorist Lenny Bruce."
It’s Berkeley . . . mid 60’s. He sits up all night in his little cramped room in the infamous lodging of Haste House, putting the finishing touches on one of his newest paintings. Drawings, sketches, oils and watercolors, dried spaghetti stuck to the plate that hasn’t been washed in weeks . . . speed, smokes, and a bottle or two are in close proximity as this driven artist goes deeper into his work – creating art that not only others may enjoy . . . but also himself.
Suddenly the door opens, and his solitude is broken. It’s his roommate Phil, coming back from a walk. Phil had just tried a very popular drug at the time . . . LSD. Phil looks down at the artist’s hands which are covered in paint from his latest creation, and the organic mess begins to swirl and pulsate as the then-legal drug works its wonders on Phil’s chemistry.“I love doing this art,” the young artist says. “It’s really a good thing.”
The tripping young man looks deep into the artist’s eyes . . . a thoughtful smile appears on his face.
“You know how you feel right now on LSD?” The artist continues.
The influenced man nods his head. “Well, that’s how I am all the time.”