Poor Glenn Danzig. His brooding bench-press-enthusiast from Hell image has been taking it on the chin a bit since his glory days with the Misfits and Samhain. First, his patented look—muscle-bound with sleeveless fishnet halter tops—gets co-opted and made to look ridiculous by some prancing British twits calling themselves “Right Said Fred,” and then, a few years later, he gets forced to star in a viral video where he gets laid out by a sloppy haymaker thrown by some blob who looks like Curly from the Three Stooges. And now, as if to seal his fate as the Rodney Dangerfield of Rock, this little booklet of disrespectful, fun-poking cartoons falls from the sky to further blacken his mood and let some of the scary air out of his somewhat overblown image.
The assorted cartoons—and diary entries—that make up Henry & Glenn Forever transmogrify the two stalwart icons of testosterone punk into either metrosexual roommates or an outright gay couple, depending on how deeply you choose to read into each cartoon. In either case, both men are shown exposing a vulnerable side not befitting their respective reps as bad asses with big necks.Danzig, in particular, seems to have an almost teenage-girl like emotional fragility in the book, which shows up most noticeably in his journal entries. While most of the cartoons are single-panel, stand-alone types, there are a few themes that loosely run throughout the entire book; for example: Danzig worriedly asking Rollins if the pants he’s wearing makes his “butt look fat.” Another thread that runs through the book is that Henry and Glenn’s next door neighbors are none other than Hall and Oates, who turn out to be practicing Satanists. A fact that both Rollins and Danzig seem to find unsettling.
While Rollins is portrayed as a big, emotionally-aloof lug, frequently bearing an uncanny resemblance to Dick Tracy, he (the real life Rollins) probably comes out of the whole thing somewhat less scathed than poor Mr. Danzig. Not only is Danzig presented as a sort of long-haired sawed-off Eddie Munster fraught with the insecurities of a lovelorn Taylor Swift, but he is portrayed throughout the book as Rollins’ “Mini Me,” constantly seeking validation from his larger and more secure “mate.”
I’m no psychologist but I don’t think Henry & Glenn Forever is going to help alleviate Danzig’s Napoleon complex one little bit. In fact, this might just be the thing to push him over the edge, to the point where he no longer asks permission to go out and kill tonight.
But maybe this is a case of living by the sword, dying by the sword. Pushing a larger-than-life, tough-guy image in people’s faces is eventually going to come back to pants you. But you would hope, with Glenry (the Brangelina-style pop-culture couple name I’ve decided to give them), that under all that tattooed brawn there are self-deprecating senses of humor capable of genuinely laughing along with a good old fashioned piss-take.
As much as I badly wanted this to be gut-bustingly funny, Henry & Glenn Forever registered scores only in the amused-smile or slight-chuckle ranges of my laff-o-meter. While the premise is very strong and packed with potential, the execution loses traction in the skidmarks of idiosyncratic humor and arty non-sequiturs. Which means it just doesn’t pack the hilarious wallop that it could have. But maybe that was by design, a sort of safety net made out of ambiguity. Maybe the various artists who drew these cartoons really weren’t kidding when they “joke” in the book about hoping that Rollins and Danzig don’t track them down and beat them to bloody pulps.
Truth be told, Danzig and Rollins have both been heroes of sorts to me, in my younger, hero-collecting days. And the Misfits and Black Flag both remain near the top of my all time favorite bands list to this day. But as much as I might respect them and/or their work, I am a fervent believer in that mightiest of punk commandments: Kill Your Idols. And what better way to “kill” your idols than to denude them of their tough-guy veneers and stick them in a cartoon world where they have no choice but to behave in ways they would normally find embarrassing and unnatural.
I just hope Glenry doesn’t take it too hard. They might feel like they’re stuck in P.R. quicksand right now, but a bad reaction to something like this could serve to suck them down even deeper. Best to keep calm and cultivate a sense of humor about the whole thing. And keep in mind the wise admonition of the ancient Chinese sage Song Xing when he said “to be insulted is not a disgrace.” –Aphid Peewit (Cantankerous Titles, PO Box 14332, Portland, OR, 97293)