Tom Neely Talks–The “Henry and Glenn Forever” Interview!

Recently called “the most talked about comic in America” the Henry and Glenn Forever comic is a sweet lovestory between punk/metal superdudes Glenn Danzig and Henry Rollins. We talked to co-creator Tom Neely about all-things Henry and Glenn!

Q: First I want to say that, as a massive fan of all-things Danzig, my heart turned to clarified butter the moment I saw my First Henry and Glenn panel. Such a super sweet and romantic love story! What was the genesis behind Henry and Glenn Forever?

Basically it was a joke born out of a night of drinking too many beers with my art fraternity The Igloo Tornado.  At some point in the evening Gin Stevens said something like “There should be a book like Tom of Finland, but with Henry Rollins and Glenn Danzig…”  and we all agreed that we needed to make this happen.  It ended up nothing like Tom of Finland. We all did our own take on what would happen when pairing the two icons.  Scot makes repeated pop-art portraits in which Glenn simply agrees with anything that Henry says.  Gin had them writing notes to each other and sending postcards.  And I drew inspiration from my own neuroses and past relationships to make more classic one-panel gag strips about domestic life.  Now that it’s out there, it’s taking on a life of it’s own and turning into some kind of monster. 

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Q: Henry and Glenn is totally pee-your-pants hilarious but I get the feeling that there’s a steady current of love and respect for those dudes’ work in it. Tell us about your own Rollins and Danzig fandom. What do you love about their music?

I’ve been a huge fan of The Misfits since I first heard Last Caress in the 6th grade. Being a small town kid who was mostly listening to Mötley Crüe at the time, Glenn’s lyrics were the most evil thing I’d ever heard, so I immediately had to seek out more.  The Misfits were my introduction to punk rock and dark themed music. Considering now that most of my music buying is in the black metal section, it kinda set the course for my future listening pleasure.  Black Flag came to me much later.  I became a fan of Henry Rollins after seeing his spoken word performance at my college in ’94.  Not long after that I got into their music as well. I made a lot of my strips riff on some of their well known lyrics because I just love those songs so much.

Q: Danzig and Rollins both come from a staunch DIY background–the self-releases, the hand-packaging, the fan-friendliness–was that at all an inspiration in you doing comics?

Yes definitely.  I’ve been self-publishing my comics for 10 years now and I think I’ll always be mostly a DIY artist.  I feel very strongly about protecting my art from external influences, and through many experiences of dealing with publishers and galleries, I’ve learned that no one else will understand my art or represent me better than myself. I’ve turned down offers from major publishers because I would rather do it my own way.

I read This Band Could Be Your Life a few years ago and it was a huge inspiration to me. Especially the chapters on Black Flag, The Minutemen and Fugazi. When I feel like I’m getting nowhere with my comics, I think about that book and it reminds me to be patient and stick to my guns. I also look to a lot of musicians in the punk and metal scene who are friends of mine who do things their own way and I feel a strong kinship to what we’re doing.  And other like-minded people in the indie comics scene like Carla Speed McNeil, Jesse Reklaw, Dylan Williams at Sparkplug Comic Books, Global Hobo and Microcosm who all do what they do with integrity and a dedication to their own vision.  As the indie comics world is growing and getting more and more attention, I’d like to see more artists stick to DIY and self-publishing.

Q: If you were making a 10-song all Danzig/Rollins mixtape, one that could cover all points of their careers, what would the tracklisting be?

Oh man… It’s so hard to choose.  I don’t know if I can answer that.  I pretty much love every song that the Misfits did with Danzig.  I love almost everything Samhain recorded. I love the first 4 Danzig albums. And I love almost everything Black Flag did with Rollins.  I’m looking forward to the new Danzig album because it’s supposed to be more rockin’ like the early Danzig and less of the industrial stuff.  I’m sorry… there’s just too much to boil it down to a 10 song list.  Maybe I’ll just have to sit down and make a mixtape.

Q: I grew up in San Diego and saw Danzig at his booth every year at ComicCon. Any chance you’re going this year?

I’ve been exhibiting there for 10 years now.  I’ve had a full booth the last 4 years and have been joking about what would happen if we ran into Glenn ever since we started making the self-published zines of Henry & Glenn. I’m sure he’s heard of the book by now, and I’m a bit worried.  But I really hope that both of them will see the humor in it.  And also see that I’m a real fan of both of them and there was no malice intended in this book.  Maybe we’ll all be friends someday, or maybe they’ll try to sue me.  I don’t know.  I’m sure we’ll find out soon enough.

See Henry and Glenn Forever! here.