By now, many of us know about Henry Rollins and Glenn Danzig, punk rock’s meathead darlings and toned butts of never-ending jokes, largely speculation about their sexualities. Henry and Glenn Forever and Ever: The Completely Ridiculous Edition is one of several collections of these jokes. If you’re unfamiliar with the concept of Henry and Glenn Forever, the comic started as a series of zines, which started as barroom napkin doodles, which started as drunken jokes between friends.
I’ll admit it conceptually drew me in. Being a sometimes-gay, definitely queer man-type person, I’m always here for scantily clad muscley dudes professing their undying love and cuddling under hand-crocheted blankets, especially if they’re tattooed and musicians and wear lots of fishnetting (honestly, though, who among us isn’t?). I didn’t give it much more thought than the occasional chuckle/vague enjoyment from afar until I saw the most recent collection—as I see many of the books I end up reading—on a display at my library. I, checked it out, read it, and enjoyed it.
And then I made the crucial mistake when enjoying a lot of media: I thought about it. I’ll give you the disclaimer now. This review is now getting into “destroying something a lot of us love because it’s actually more problematic than we thought” territory. Henry and Glenn Forever, on second glance, reeks of the same internalized homophobia—and misogyny for that matter—that all that art of Trump and Putin making out reeks of. Of course Henry and Glenn Forever is funny! Two incredibly masculine men could never be gay! Then they’d have to be feminine and we all know being feminine is shameful and wildly contradictory to their true beefy manly nature! Also, isn’t male-male affection hilarious? The entire joke here is playing on a sense of masculine, heterosexual superiority and an inherent sense of wrongness about queer identities, particularly gender non-conforming ones.
At the end of the day, gender expression and sexuality are fluid beasts. Boxing anyone into a purely and rigidly masculine or feminine nature is shitty, especially when you link it inherently to their sexuality. We’re all weird, fabulous beings, with our own notions of what it means to be men or women or none or all of the above, and maybe Henry and Glenn should be left to decide for their own what being a man means. Even if it involves leaving each other sweet notes about cleaning the litter box. But hey, the art is cute! –Jimmy Cooper (Microcosm Publishing, microcosmpublishing.com)