Henry & Glenn Forever
Tom Neely, Scott Nobles, Gin Stevens, [anonymous], writers/artists
Igloo Tornado/Cantankerous Titles, April 2010
When I was a teenager, even though I didn’t much care for their music, I was at the very least entertained by Henry Rollins and Glenn Danzig purely on a “who’d win in a fight?” level. This was the early ’90s, and the concept of broadly defined alternative musicians with actual visible muscles was something of a mindblower, to say nothing of the superhero levels to which these two guys took it. Although spitballing which of the two would come out on top in hand-to-hand comeback has since been largely rendered moot, I’d imagine Henry & Glenn remain associated with one another in the minds of many lo these many years later by dint of their toyetic physiques (and their equally genre-art-badass mutual love of black clothing), quite aside from their shared role at the roots of hardcore. In that light it’s no surprise that in one of this book’s sixty or so one-page gags on the idea of Rollins and Danzig as a committed couple, they’re simply drawn as Colossus and Wolverine respectively, without further comment. If either man has spent any time in your ideaspace, no explanation is necessary.
Produced by The Blot‘s Tom Neely and his compatriots in the Igloo Tornado collective (the fourth member of which appears to wish to remain anonymous for the purposes of this project), Henry & Glenn Forever is an email your friends, hey-you-gotta-see-this meme in minicomic form for one simple reason: It takes hardcore’s two most self-consciously self-styled tough guys and casts them as lovers, not fighters. It helps if you’re familiar with some of their music, since there are a handful of gags (particularly Neely’s) based on Black Flag or Misfits lyrics–including the outrageously tumblriffic image I stuck at the top of this review, as well as another that’s both one of the comics’ few gross-out gags and almost completely indecipherable unless you know the line that comes after the line Glenn utters in the panel. But in general, all you need do is, y’know, look at how Glenn Danzig and Henry Rollins look, and then sit back and enjoy how funny it is to think of them as a sweet romantic couple who wish they could spend more time together, hate themselves for arguing, write about their Hot Topic shopping sprees in their diaries, fret about whether their fishnets will still fit them if they go see Rocky Horror at the Nuart, and so on.
Lest you worry it’s a one-note project, a goodly number of the jokes go in different directions. Some preserve Henry & Glenn’s machismo but take it to ridiculous levels: In one panel they’ve replaced their hands with guns and knives, in another they’ve sprouted the black horns of a “unicorn of death.” There’s a subplot involving their nextdoor neighbors Darryl Hall and John Oates, cast here as very polite Satanists. And there are plenty of jokes directly at the expense of werewolf-loving, Hitler-studying, occult-dabbling Danzig that would work whether or not he and Henry Rollins were in love. Rollins, who in my day became something of a poster child for alt-culture elitism, is roasted a couple of times on those grounds, but he’s generally the straight man here. So to speak. In a world where Oates’s mustache is the star of its own animated series, the jokes about those two yachtrockers fall a little flat, but I laughed a lot at pretty much everything. (And okay, seeing the two of them say “Oh, I can’t go for that!” “No can do!” as Henry and Glenn erect an anti-Prop 8 sign on their front yard made me laugh too.)
If you’re looking for a gorgeous art showcase, you’ll probably wanna look elsewhere: Of the four Igloo Tornado guys, Neely’s the only real cartoonist in the bunch. I love the visual shorthand he developed for the pair: Rollins is a towering, barefooted, squint-eyed, unibrowed, flattopped ogre, Danzig a tiny, doughy imp with Annie Warbucks’s eyes and Veronica Lodge’s hair. The rest of the gang cartoons just well enough to get their gags across, and honestly that’s part of the charm–Neely’s chops aside, this thing looks and reads like a book you and your friends could have put together after drunkenly stumbling across the idea, cracking up the whole while. Which, as I understand, is exactly what Neely & Company did. Sometimes, it pays to heed the words of a wise man: “Don’t think about–do it!”