This work depicts Drew Friedman's old friend (and favorite artist) Robert Crumb presenting his original Cheap Thrills comic strip album cover art to Janis Joplin (with members of her band, Big Brother and the Holding Company, milling around) in 1968. The (fictitious) incident is pictured taking place backstage at the Fillmore West concert hall in San Francisco.
Interestingly, Crumb had originally intended his art for the LP back cover, with a portrait of Joplin to grace the front. But Joplin—an avid fan of underground comics, especially the work of Crumb—so loved the Cheap Thrills illustration that she demanded Columbia Records place it on the front cover. (Janis, a star at that point in her escalating career, had the authority to hire her own cover artist.)
Amusing side note: In the late 1960s, Crumb (an ardent fan of 1920s jazz and blues and a man who was never comfortable with psychedelic chic) briefly yielded to prevailing fashion and wore his hair fairly long (as depicted). Joplin encouraged her friend Crumb to "loosen up" and wear "hippie clothes and beads," but the legendary cartoonist just couldn't get with the program.
Epilog: Robert Crumb, on Janis (Nov. 2008): "She was my buddy—poor thing. She was a very talented, gifted singer, but she got sidetracked by fame and her life went into a disastrous tailspin. In her last days she was surrounded by sycophants and music business hustlers just full of bad advice. She was young, and in spite of her tough, hard-drinking exterior, innocent. She just wanted to please the crowds, who got excited when she screamed and stomped her feet and carried on histrionically onstage. Janis sweated blood to please the crowds. But I think she was a better singer years before that, when she sang old-time Country music and Blues in small clubs. She was great then, a natural-born country girl shouter and wailer in the good old-time way."