Joel Beck was one of the earliest artists of American underground comix. Together with Frank Stack ('New Adventures of Jezus', 1962) and Jaxon ('God Nose', 1964), Beck can even be considered the earliest genuine underground comics artist in history (not counting prototypical examples like Ernest Riebe's '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 riches-to-rags story about a foul-mouthed comedian obviously modelled after cult humorist Lenny Bruce.
Other comics of Joel Beck are 'Marching Marvin' (1966) and 'The Profit' (1966). Kitchen Sink Press reprinted those stories in 1977 under the title 'Joel Beck's Comics & Stories'. Beck's work appeard in several underground comics (Snarf, Comix Book and others) until the late 1970s, when his work disappeared from the scene. Until his death in 1999, Joel Beck lived in obscurity in Point Richmond, California doing occasional advertising commissions and being looked after by friends.