The greatest love story every told? Meh, probably not. But for punk and metal fans who grew up listening to Black Flag and The Misfits, Henry & Glenn Forever's fictional world where the two muscled frontmen are romantically involved is up there with The Notebook.
Watching the domestic life of Henry and Glenn, two idolized figures in the punk world, known for their macho masculinity, couldn't be more fun. Why does Henry always have to do the dishes? Who broke the toilet? Why do I find this all so intriguing?
Henry & Glenn Forever and the sequel Henry & Glenn Forever & Ever have been on quite a ride, selling over 100,000 copies, evoking real-life reactions from both characters, and finding a place in the hearts of fans around the world.
Tomorrow, April 30, at Mission Comics, Henry & Glenn Forever & Ever kicks off a group art show featuring comics from the book. We caught up with Tom Neely, the creator, ahead of the show.
[jump] I know this whole project started as a comic, then got turned into a book. But when did Henry & Glenn start doing group art shows? And how did this one is particular come about?
The first Henry & Glenn art show was the Henry & Glenn Gang Bang in 2010 for the release of the original book Henry & Glenn Forever at La Luz de Jesus Gallery in Los Angeles. When the sequel Henry & Glenn Forever & Ever started coming together last year, I reached out to them again and we had a really big group show of all the artwork from the book back in October 2014. The show at Mission Comics (tomorrow) came together because I ran into Avi at LA Zinefest and he asked me to do this with them.
Can you explain the Henry & Glenn Forever phenomenon? What do you think it is about the comics that connected with so many people?
I don’t know how to explain it… the idea fell out of a beer bottle one night and me and my art fraternity Igloo Tornado just scribbled comics on bar napkins to entertain each other… Once we released it as a zine, it took on a life of it’s own. It’s one of those chocolate + peanut butter ideas that people can’t get enough of. Happily, I think it’s really connected with fans of the real Henry and Glenn, as well as metal-heads and punks in general. The more you know about the real dudes, the more fun the comics are.
How did you choose the group of artists for this show?
These are all people I selected to be in the Henry & Glenn Forever & Ever book. When I was putting the book together, I started by reaching out to my artist and cartoonist friends to see who was interested in contributing. I think Ed Luce was the first person I asked! And once the mini-series was going, I had many other artists reach out to me wanting to contribute. I only sought out artists who have a genuine love for the real Henry and Glenn, so the end result was that I managed to get a lot of great artists who were enthusiastic about the concept and really had their own stories to contribute to the weird world that the Igloo Tornado created. Everyone in the book is a big fan of the real personas, so it all comes from a genuine place of making fun of your idols.
Will there be new Henry & Glenn forever artwork at the show, or is it the same content as the book? If there's new stuff, what's your favorite piece?
It’s all in the book. Of my own work in the show, I think the HENRY X GLENN cover art that I drew in a Rob Liefeld style is my favorite. It was so fun to try to draw like Rob!
How many books did you sell?
The original Forever book is somewhere in the 100K+ range. Not sure how many of Forever & Ever have sold yet.
When you talk about your comic with people unfamiliar with punk or hardcore, how do you describe it?
That’s usually a useless attempt… If people don’t know who Henry or Glenn are, they won’t understand anything in the book. I made a cliff-notes edition for my mother that tries to explain all the jokes, but I still don’t think that helps.
Have you received any backlash from people who find the plot line offensive? If so, what do you tell them?
I actually ended up sitting on a plane next to London May (one of the drummers for Danzig’s band Samhain) and when I introduced myself he knew of the comic and he was not happy! He proceeded to give me a very thorough and stern lecture on everything he thought was wrong with the book. We were sitting next to each other for fiver hours, so the conversation got really intense and interesting at times, but I debated all of his points and I think I at least convinced him that I’m not a total dick. But London, Glenn, and hardcore Danzig fans are NOT happy about the book at all.
What did you make of Henry and Glenn's reactions to the comic?
Glenn’s reaction was priceless! I actually made it into a comic strip titled “The Final Blow” that is the last page of the Henry & Glenn Forever & Ever book. My friend was interviewing Danzig for Decibel magazine and tried to give him a copy of the original book. He was not happy about it at all. My friend at Decibel sent me a transcript of Danzig’s reaction, so “The Final Blow” is his real words. Henry, on the other hand, has a sense of humor and even wrote favorably about our comics in his LA Weekly column. I was happy to hear that, even though it’s a little more fun if they’re annoyed with it. I’ve yet to meet or personally interact with either of them.
What other art are you working on right now that excites you?
I’m currently drawing an Image comic book series that I co-created with my friend Keenan Marshall Keller. It’s called The Humans and it’s about biker gangs of ape-men in a 1970s monkey planet. It’s probably the most fun I’ve ever had drawing comics. The first volume is collected and in stores now, and it returns with issue #5 in June!