Beck’s Blog

7 Responses to Beck’s Blog

  1. Phil Howe says:

    Hello out there … Capt Phil here. If you’d like to purchase the SPOUTS paperback or audio/e-book just go to:

    You’ll find lots of good stuff there and SPOUTS – THE WHALE WHO SAVED CHRISTMAS is on sale. Joel’s fabulous illustrations for this book really bring the characters to life. Children really love this story!

  2. Claudia Beck says:

    Happy Birthday brother Joel! you would have been….well 71?
    a day late but we all know it was on the 7th. My Mom and I used to commemorate Joel’s birthday every year. One year we found ourselves on the Gulf Coast in Florida dining at a Jungle Restaurant with all kinds of animated animals and jungle sounds, mists. The man running the restaurant, attached to a Best Western, for a hobby fixed up his coffee shop and transformed it into leafy dark jungle. what an imagination! WE toasted to Joel and I sipped my Pina Colada. When I was a little girl Joel use to always be making sounds of birds, apes, tweets and howls. he could imitate anything! HE would be drumming on his Bongo’s. He was amazingly good at it. Joel had a lot of nervous energy as a teenager. As Phil stated in the above message that Joel’s sudden death came suddenly and was shocking, but really no surprise. My childhood was always full of surprises and entertainment by my brother’s antics and his best friend Phil. I remember once when I asked Joel why he was digging a huge hole in the back field behind our house? and he and his buddy either Phil or Denny Denison claimed they were digging to Hell. I believed them because I must of been about five or six. I ran to my mom and cried that Joel was digging to Hell! I believed it. Mom always had her hands full with his antics. When I was a teen, Joel would take me to the coolest movies and always to dinner at Bertolli’s Restaurante Italiano in San Pablo. Joel was a family man and always celebrated Holidays with us and his two nephews, Huey and Dewey…no..wait a minute…I mean my sons Jojo and Ben…I will always love and miss my big brother! quack quack quack.. :p

  3. Phil Howe says:

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY JOEL! It’s been 14 years since you departed but we all still miss you and your wonderful, odd, weird sense of humor. Hope all is well is the great cartoon panel in the sky.

  4. Phil Howe says:

    It had been a long drive back to my cabin in the Bitterroot Mountains of Montana from my boat in Sausalito. Twenty-one hours non-stop! I had snacked along the way on cashews and trail mix and then stopped for a meal and coffee in Salmon, Idaho before tackling the last two hour drive over Lost Trail summit and down into the valley.

    As I pulled up in front of my log cabin I turned off the key and gave a happy sigh…back in the Bitterroots again. I had just walked in the door and was thinking how nice it would be if Joel could come up and visit sometime and do some paintings of beautiful Montana when the phone rang. It was David Vincent, Joel’s attorney and benefactor.

    “Joel died,” he said. “They found him a couple of days ago in his room above the Point Bar.”

    “Jesus Christ,” I replied. “That’s awful, … what happened?”

    “No one knows for sure, most likely natural causes. You just can’t drink that much and keep living. He was wrapped up in his blanket on a mattress on the floor.”

    Although Joel’s death came as a shock it really wasn’t any surprise. He never really took care of himself and he had looked pretty awful the last time I saw him in the tiny park in the center of Pt. Richmond. But ever the artist, he had been drawing and painting to the end.

    David continued: “I called Claudia and told her and she came right over and put a bouquet of flowers in his hand and then they took him away. They’re going to cremate him.”

    I had known Claudia, Joel’s sister, as long as I had known Joel. She was a real trooper and was as close to Joel as any of his relatives.

    And suddenly it hit me. I had lost my oldest friend! We had been through so much together…childhood, elementary school, puberty, high school, Berkeley in the 60s and the Summer of Love in San Francisco.

    “There is going to be a memorial here in the Point tomorrow. Can you make it?”

    “Christ, I just drove up to Montana and there’s no way I can be there tomorrow. Oh, man this really sucks!”

    We talked a little longer before hanging up and I sat down in a lump in my rocking chair, dead tired after that drive, the walls of my cabin filled with Joel’s paintings, four or five of his best works. My gaze wandered slowly, lovingly over his paintings and up to the giant painting of the sun hanging in a place of honor high in the living room. They focused on the steel blue, whimsical eyes in the center. These were Joel’s eyes, filled with merriment, … whimsical and haughty saying: “You know it’s all a joke so just enjoy it.”

    God, I loved his art work, his drawings, his cartoons and all the insane shenanigans we pulled off over the last forty-five years.

    I loved him too, as a dear friend and brother.

    And now he was gone.

  5. Phil Howe says:


    I first met Joel around the Spring of 1954 when I was ten years old. Our family had moved to a brand new subdivision in El Sobrante, CA called Green Acres (no kidding) and it was the first home my parents had signed up to buy. It was an exciting time for our family and the new house had its own fireplace and I would have my own bedroom.

    After settling in for a few weeks my Mom told me about a boy my age living around the corner from us who was in a full body cast in bed and suggested that I go over to meet him. She pointed out where his house was on Wesley Way, blew up some balloons for me to take along and sent me on my way. Apprehension filled me as I walked around our corner and across the street. After all you never know what to expect when a strange front door opens.

    As the door to the Beck’s home opened a giant dog barked and a small woman answered. She smiled at me:
    “You must be here to see Joey,” Joel’s mother Marie said. “Come on in.”

    She pointed me down the short hall and after a few steps and a right turn I entered Joel’s bedroom. There he was, swathed in a body cast from his neck to his waist, flat on his back and drawing away on a comic book of his own creation.

    “Here,” I said, handing him the balloons. “My Mom wanted you to have these. My name is Phil.”

    Joel took the balloons and tied them to his bed. “Thanks, … I’m Joel.”

    We sat and talked as kids do and he explained that he had spinal tuberculosis but was getting better and would be out of the cast in six months or so. Even at age ten his artistic skills amazed me and I wished that I could draw like him.

    “What’s the matter with your eye?” he asked.

    “A cat scratched me there a couple of years ago,” I replied. “They put a stitch in it.”

    “Your eye looks like a cat eye. That’s what I’ll call you, cat eye! You can call me turtle boy because I live in this shell.”

    And so a friendship was forged that would last a life time. Turtle boy and Cat eye … friends to the end.

    (More soon).

  6. Phil Howe says:

    And we would really like to thank Carl Kuntze for allowing us to us his wonderful black & white photos taken back in the 60s of Joel both at work and at Haste House. These photos capture Joel during his most creative period.

    Also thanks to the late Clay Geerdes and his estate for the use of the color photos of the earlier Joel.

    And if anyone out there has any more photos worthy of posting please send them in.


  7. Phil Howe says:

    Hello and welcome to the newly updated Joel Beck website. We welcome all comments and suggestions. Due to some technical difficulties we have lost all the wonderful comments of the last ten years and look forward to having people re-submit their remembrances and comments on this new blog. PLEASE write us and/or send us pictures of your J B works of art!

    Looking forward to re-connecting with Joel’s fans out there.

    Kindest regards to all,

    Phil Howe

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