Griffin was a subcultural initiate who channeled the visual smorgasbord of freak esoterica while lending it a uniquely visionary — and pictographic — depth. And when Griffin accepted Jesus Christ as his personal savior in 1970 — a conversion that inflected but did not squelch his ongoing engagement with surfing, comix, visionary art, and popular culture — Griffin gave voice to one of the strangest and most misunderstood currents of California freak religiosity: the rebellion against the rebellion, the One Way of Christ that cuts through the labyrinth of mystical hedonism.
Griffin’s career can be loosely divided into three overlapping and interpenetrating phases: surfing, psychedelia, and Christianity. Growing up near the knob of Palos Verdes, which lies on the coast between Los Angeles and Long Beach, Griffin spent his time surfing and drawing. He loved Mad magazine, and Don Martin’s goofy illustrative line infused Griffin’s semi-autobiographical surf bum character Murphy, who was quickly adopted as a friendly icon of the scene.