Take two real-life hardcore punk/metal macho tattooed icons. Put them together in same-sex partnered bliss. Now aggressively skewer their anticipated discomfort with the whole schmear and you have Tom Neely’s wonderfully subversive comic Henry & Glenn Forever. It’s Rocky & Bullwinkle for the musically inclined.
First a little background: Henry Rollins started singing for punk rock trailblazers Black Flag. Through years of police riots, fistfights and a certain tattooed, tough-guy brio, he managed to work his way out of the morass and into a pretty cush deal.
During a ’get drunk and talk about art’ meeting Jim Stevens came up with the idea of doing Henry and Glenn like Tom of Finland characters. And we just couldn’t stop laughing.
This includes a column in the LA Weekly, a radio show, various TV shows in and out of development, film, commercials and a thriving sideline as an author and stand-up performer. All of it focused on a kind of macho implacability.
Glenn Danzig’s life path? Weirdly parallel to Henry’s.
Like Henry, he was a self-made badass, starting with horror punk band the Misfits and then with metal bands Samhain and the eponymous Danzig (Glenn’s birth surname? Anzalone). He wore leather pants and fishnet shirts and had a penchant for Satanism as well as a Jim Morrison-like howl. Working with Johnny Cash, Rick Rubin and other greats just burnished his brand.
But all this larger-than-lifeness just begged to be skewered. Which is where Tom Neely came in.
”Me and my art collective were sitting around during one of our monthly ‘get drunk and talk about art’ meetings,” said Neely. “And Gin Stevens came up with the idea of doing Henry and Glenn like Tom of Finland characters. (Tom of Finland being the classical illustrator of well-muscled gay-themed sketch porn.) And we just couldn’t stop laughing.” (You can see the results of that first drunken inspiration at the top of this page.)
Thus was born the epic Henry & Glenn Forever. The first issue debuted in 2011 with a bow at ComicCon and sold 70,000 copies. Neely was as shocked as he was surprised.
Sales have been just as brisk on issue two, which just came out. Issues three and four are scheduled for the fall of 2013. He’s also begun an animated series of Henry & Glenn. Big companies have come calling, and then veered away.
“Well, it’s based on real people so they’re afraid,” Neely said. But it’s the cartoon’s depiction of real people that makes it such a hit. The prospect of the unmarried Rollins and Danzig as homemakers is just too cool and funny.
“Yeah. Weirdly enough I was on a five-hour airplane flight next to Danzig’s drummer,” Neely says with a chuckle. “And after I told him who I was, he spent five hours giving me a hard time about it. I tried to tell him that this all came from a place of love but I think he was unmoved.”
Rollins, who is considered a gay ally and actively opposed DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act), seems more begrudgingly amused by the whole cartoonization of his friendship with Danzig. Danzig? Not so much. J Bennett, extreme rock journalist, had the weirdly distinct pleasure of being the first to “break” the news to Danzig.
“Henry said Danzig would not be amused at all,” said J from Los Angeles. “And he really wasn’t. At all.”
But we were. A whole hell of a lot.
Why you should care
Because anticipating Glenn Danzig being angry enough to punch Tom Neely in the face is worth its weight in gold. Unless you’re Neely’s face.