What goes into making a comic about two punk gods in love? And what did those punk gods think of it? We investigate.
What is true love? Is it grand gestures and string quartets blaring? Or is love the quieter moments, like promising Glenn Danzig you'll help him get rid of his mother? In the underground comic Henry & Glenn Forever & Ever, artist and series editor Tom Neely captures the struggles and joys of being in a committed relationship by transposing those feelings into a book about a romance between punk/metal legends "Henry," modeled after Henry Rollins, and "Glenn," modeled after Glenn Danzig. An ongoing project since 2004, Henry & Glenn Forever & Ever: Completely Ridiculous Edition hits shelves in September, and is the final major culmination of the comics, collecting the works of Neely and his comic creator friends with over 20 mini-comics and illustrations depicting the two lovebirds.
The idea was born during a night of drunken doodling with Neely and the other members of the art collective Igloo Tornado. After plenty of successful xeroxing and DIY distribution, "the thing kept gaining momentum," Neely explains to Creators, "and we got a publisher and then it just took off. The fans wanted more, so I enlisted many of my other friends in the comics and art world and started expanding the ideas with art shows and more comic books."
"I never thought it would take off and be so popular," Neely confesses. "I wanted to be a serious artist and this dumb joke was taking over my career! But the fans loved it so much—and other artists loved it, and I embraced it and took it in a new direction and I love to see how it has grown and continues."
The opening story of the comic, where Henry urges Glenn to clean up their front yard, was inspired, in part, by reality. "I live in LA and most people here know about the pile of bricks that used to be in front of Danzig's house in the Los Feliz neighborhood," says Neely. "...For about 10 years there was a huge pile of bricks just sitting there in front of his spooky, dilapidated house. Nobody knows why. So, I wanted to write a story about what lies beneath those bricks…"
And how has the LGBTQ+ community reacted to this comic about the shipping of these two musical icons? "I've had a very positive reaction from the LGBTQ+ community and included many as contributors to the book. My aim with this book was to present a positive, normal domestic relationship and avoid anything that felt like it was homophobic. The characters being gay isn't the joke, that's just the scenario. The heart of the story is about the comical ups and downs of relationships. No matter what your sexuality—we all have funny domestic squabbles with our mates!"
The big question, of course, is, what do Henry and Glenn think of the book? "Henry Rollins wrote some kind words about it in LA Weekly a couple of years ago," says Neely, "in an article he wrote in defense of parody and free speech in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo terrorist attacks. He said something like 'I haven't read it, but I think it's hilarious that it exists.' On the other hand, Glenn Danzig called me 'opportunistic' and 'extremely stupid' in an interview somewhere. He has no sense of humor, and that's sad. But then if he embraced it, it wouldn't be as much fun to do this book."
Henry & Glenn Forever & Ever hits stores on September 23rd, but you can pre-order it and check out more images at Microcosm Publishing.