Turn of the Century Renaissance Man: April 1995


“I’m the best there is at what  I do, and what I do isn’t nice.” 

-Wolverine by Chris Claremont

Though certainly more versatile in his career choices, Glenn Danzig bears a striking resemblance to the fictional Wolverine (of X-Men comics fame). Known for his role as frontman of hard rock band ‘Danzig’, Glenn Danzig writes, produces and performs the music, as well as producing and directing the videos attached to those songs. His music has been around since early punk and is now affecting modern alternative music; currently Danzig is also considering playing the character Wolverine for the big screen–The X-men movie is in development with director James Cameron of “Terminator”, “Aliens” and upcoming the “Spider-Man” movie.) In addition, Danzig is considering directing and playing DC Comics bad boy ‘Lobo’ and it doesn’t stop there. Last January 1994, Glenn started Verotik Publishing. Danzig intends to bring the same integrity and dedication to comic publishing that his supporters (and detractors) have observed for over 15 years in the music industry. As always, Glenn is doing it his way and couldn’t care less what others may think of the comics as long as they form their opinions by actually reading them. 

Voted the best candidate to play the part of Wolverine in the latest Wizard poll by comic readers. Danzig is indeed considering playing the part of Wolverine. The Wolverine character is the central character for this movie, with potential to be followed by a solo Wolverine movie project if this first one is successful. Danzig would like to play the part of Wolverine if the script is written with the integrity the character deserves and is not interested in playing the part of what “Hollywood” thinks Wolverine should be. Even more exciting is the possibility of directing and playing the part of Lobo. The total out-of-control-over-the-top violence that a Lobo movie could get away with is very attractive to Glenn. Having read most of the comics myself, I tend to agree that it could any comics out there that are pushing the envelope of what comics can be, I think people are really missing the boat.

VB: What are your general guidelines for publishing your own comic books? 

Danzig: My feeling is that if a publisher is not hiring the best possible artists and writers, giving them artistic freedom and backing . them with quality production, why bother?

VB: What about the violent and erotic nature of Verotik’s line and the censorship of Verotika #1 by one of the largest comic printers, Quebecor? 

Danzig: Like I’ve said before, you have the right to say and do what you want as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone else. There’s a new right wing in America that is trying to repress the whole country.

The attempted censorship of Verotika #1 didn’t affect its release. According to local comic book outlet Night Flight, Verotika was nevertheless available for sale in October 1994 (and still is). Quebecor World was refusing to print it, but it came out on time anyway. Apparently they rejected the material after they had had the whole package (in one form or another) for three weeks. They waited until the last possible moment before deciding that they objected to the second story (the piece they had even longer to look over). Quebecor World was afraid they would have trouble getting it across the Canadian border and they objected to the content. Brenner Printing was able to turn the book around in one week, and Verotik Publishing was able to make the publishing deadline. Having personally read the issue in question. I did find it to be some of the most evil stuff I’ve ever read. But it was well written evil, Grant Morrison did a pat job on the story Quebecor World objected to. As Publisher and Editor-in-chief, Glenn Danzig does not have reservations about publishing graphic depictions of sexuality and does not believe in censorship of any kind, nor is he willing to allow his work to be censored. That’s why writers and artists like Frank Frazetta, Simon Bisley, Grant Morrison, Jae Lee, Duke Mighten, Rex Miller, Paul Lee, Nancy Collins and Esteban Maroto are working with Verotik.

VB: So how did you connect with artists like Frank Frazetta? 

Danzig: Jeez ya’ know … maybe they liked what I had to say? I don’t know. (Laughter) Originally with Frank I talked with Ellie and eventually got to meet him. She showed me some of the pencil stuff that he was doing and asked me if I would bc interested in publishing a book of it and I said ‘Yeah !” At the same time the Kirby’s were interested in doing a book of Jack’s unpublished stuff; and it just went from there and eventually it all became a comic company. Simon Bisley did a cover for my band (Thrall:Demonsweat Live), he’s a great guy and again, it just went from there. Then I just thought about all the artists I would want to use and then proceeded to call them up and ask them if they wanted to work with us. When I told them what the criteria was-which is basically no censorship and you can do whatever you want-they said “Yeah!” 

VB: Did you read comics as a kid?

Danzig: When I was growing up, some people would just read Marvel or DC, but 1 lead it all. I read everything. For a long time, I remember what comics did for me, especially once Marvel came out. They tool comics to a whole new medium. Now it’s become a business and no one’s taken it anywhere new. Image broke away but, by and large except for Todd’s character, they’re all just Marvel clone characters. Image puts out great books with some great art, but to be honest, the characters are pretty one dimensional. That’s my take on it. I know that people like that and that’s great. The books sell well, and that’s good.They did take contics to the next production level: great coloring, great paper, great art. Storywise though, especially for some of the older fans, they’re lacking. So here’s where we come in. We’re going to give people adult books, computer color, great writers, great artists-the whole package. Right now, if you want an adult- book, it’s black and white, it’s either three to five dollars and sometimes it gets very mired down in the person’s personal ego because they’re just doing this one book or these two books and it gets too wordy and loses its focus. We’re going to do a real comic line that’s just for adults or mature readers. I’m sure that kids are going to get their hands on them. l got my hands on underground comics when I was a kid, I’m sure you did too. But it’s going to be a great package. You’re going to get great artists because normally most of these undergrounds don’t have the great art they used to, and what more could you want? Most people I know don’t buy X-Men or the “spandex characters”. Sometimes out of nostalgia they’ll buy certain characters just because they like the character itself. But it’s not because it’s properly written or in Marvel’s case, usually their artists are just not that good anymore. So I think there’s a comic market out there no one is currently tapping into.

VB: Are Verotik books the 90’s version of EC comics? 

Danzig: I sure hope we can change as many things as EC did. Again like you said, it’s the 90’s, so we’re out -0 change the face of comics. I want people to view comics totally different. Like in other countries, especially Japan, because we’re going to be bringing some Japanese stuff over and computer coloring and translating them to English. Japanese comic artists are treated with respect. They’re very talented and it’s a real art. Here in America, it’s business. You can see it in the way that many of the companies treat their artists. They just treat them like shit. They’re just a cog in the wheel and if you don’t play the ball game the way they want you to you’re out and they just bring somebody else in, as if the artist isn’t that important to a book. For us it’s more than a business. Everybody here at this company loves comics, and I personally want to see it go to the next level.

VB: What about the younger comic reader?

Danzig: Comics have got to be taken to the next level. There’s a place for the kid comic books, but it’s dwindling. Videos are eating that up and so is music.

VB: You mentioned reading Marvel when it first started. What did you think of Jack Kirby’s work? 

Danzig: I remember once I moved out here to L.A., which was about six years ago, I used to go up and visit Jack Kirby all the time. I had a friend who was his agent. Every two or three weeks I’d be up there. Having grown up with Jack’s books and then talking to him, I remember how important those stories were, and he was always pushing it too. Even in the 70’s with his Fourth World stuff, which I liked the most out of all this stuff, he was really pushing it. Here was a guy who took artwork and made it a new language. It almost didn’t even matter what the words were, you just got something when you looked at the artwork It was like a language, a new kind of way to communicate with somebody.

Danzig says that for a comic to succeed, the writer must work with the pictures to avoid repeating the same thought. Danzig avoids this trap by working with the artist page by page, and by developing the writing and the dialogue simultaneously, like Jack Kirby’s brand of storytelling. It must be working as Verotika #1 is fast selling out across the country. According to one distributor, Danzing hasn’t received any requests for returns on the book (it was not solicited as containing adult material so they expected complaints) and do not have copies for the stores that are trying to reorder extras. 

VB: Getting back to Verotika #1, I really liked Simon Bisley’s art on the first story. Did you purposely write it with very little dialogue? 

Danzig: If the artist is already saying something, I’m not going to repeat it. Simon has a great style, we were in sync doing this story. 

VB: Olyoptics is the most expensive colorist in the industry and did a fairly good job coloring Verotika. Do you plan on having them color the rest of your line?


Danzig: No. They didn’t follow the color guides we provided. I felt that we weren’t given the best work they were capable of, yet they charged us as if they did the job we asked them to do. Verotika is a bimonthly erotic horror anthology, and it bears a distinct difference to a lot of other anthologies in that only horror writers will be working on it: like Nancy Collins and Grant Morrison. Satanika is a bimonthly comic about a half-human, half-demon woman on a mission of vengeance against her demon father, with plans to make an original animation video of this character. Death Dealer was a character that Frank Frazetta created in a painting back in the ’70s sometime, as well as a series of paperback novels. Danzig will personally be writing new stories and adventures for him (Death Dealer). It will be gritty and very violent. 

VB: Your dedication to this art form is refreshing. I take it that you want to expand the comics’ reading audience by doing it yourself since the other publishers aren’t doing it.

Danzig: I keep wondering if the comics industry will move forward and stop killing itself. The audience is begging for expansion in certain areas, but the big companies are so happy with the status quo that their influence is stifling the rest of the Industry. 

VB: So, are some publishers limiting comics in their versatility and therefore ability to entertain a larger segment of the population? 

Danzig: ‘Merica is a repressive society bordering on fascism. When are we going to stand up for our rights and stop this covert censorship? Just like every other entertainment medium, comics are not limited to one specific age group. Why can Penthouse Magazine get through customs but not Penthouse Comix? 

It seems as if publisher Glenn Danzig has a true love of-the comic book art form from the way he has gathered the best artists, writers, colorists and plinkers in the industry, and he doesn’t seem concerned with the cost of publishing the books with the best quality available. Nor does Danzig seem concerned if they do not sell well immediately.

VB: Will Verotika‘s books be available at your concerts? 

Danzig: I try not to cross the two, I don’t want to exploit that. There might be a booth set up at our shows when we go out to play. If it turns people on to comics, then that’s even better. These people may be looking for a new form of entertainment. If it’s because I’m in music and they pick it up and like it, we get a new customer and they get a new form of entertainment. Again, it goes back to making comics important again. 

VB: What about literary value?

Danzig: One of the stories we contracted for Verotika #5 looks like it’s going to be awarded the Bram Stoker Award for a short story. This is the kind of stuff I like to hear. In a way, I’m creating books that I want to read for myself. If others enjoy it too, all the better. Besides, when you get your hands on these books, you’ll have a true work of collectible art. There is a readership out there for these books. It may take time to let them all know what we have available for them, but I’m willing to promote them and give them a chance to grow that readership. 

VB: What about the people that find out about your books after they sell out? 

Danzig: I will not reprint these books. I may do collections of them, but I’m not going back to the press on single issues. You can’t ignore the business side of it, but it doesn’t mean you can’t put out a good book. 

Conspirators, Hart Fisher and Steve Wardlaw are running the day-to-day of Verotik Publishing. Both of these gentlemen have worked in the industry before they worked for Verotik Publishing. Fisher has been called “the most dangerous man in comics.” He is the publisher of Boneyard Press which has released favorites such as Jeffrey Dahmer: An Unauthorized Biography of a Serial Killer, Bill the Bull, Rush Limbaugh Must Die, and Doin’ Time with OJ. He has proven to be a courageous cut-through-the-bull-shit kind of guy, so should fit in well with Danzig’s team. 

Wardlaw, the Director of Marketing and Promotions, has worked for six years in the industry. DC Comics and Tundra Publishing (which has been known to publish controversial material), are two of the companies Wardlaw has worked for, as well as running his own consulting company Wardlaw Studios, which has assisted numerous companies with all aspects of comics publishing. 

VB: One final question. Do you think we’re experiencing a return to the comic book witch-hunts of the 1950’s, the kind that led to the demise of EC Comics (publisher of Tales From the Crypt)? 

Danzig: It started there with the comics industry’s self-imposed censorship, and it was out of control then, but it has continued with cover advisories and printers refusing to print certain material. This is all just holding back the possible explosion of comics in America.

Read more from the SLUG Archives:
Melvins Interview: April 1995
Band Interview: The Cult