Esoteric Comics History part 666


Saturday, April 24, 2010

Crystar #8, 1984, Michael Golden art

Hey True Believers, Frankie the Wop here with an installment of “Esoteric Comics History.” Today, we’re looking at Glenn Danzig‘s swipe file. This file is labeled “Michael Golden.” My friend and blood brother, Spahr Schmitt, has been telling his tale of encountering the Dark Son of rock ‘n roll for years. They talked comics, and about, uh, the anxiety of influence. Many of you may know about Danzig’s famous swipe, but I am surprised by how many folks do not. I love telling this story. I remember once telling this story in front of my publisher, Mr. Dan Nadel, and an assortment of comics folks. When I said “Crystar #8,” Dan shook his head and said, “I can’t believe I publish you. You have the most retarded stories, haha.” So this one is an old favorite. Try to imagine Danzig’s Elvis-like speaking voice when reading the tale below. Spahr would usually “do” Danzig’s voice, which always cracked me up.

By Spahr Schmitt
Thursday April 25th 1985, All Ages event at the infamous Electric Banana nightclub, Pittsburgh, PA.

SAMHAIN, Glenn Danzig’s post-MISFITS outfit, was little more than a year old, but already making a second stop in the ‘burgh.

My punk-rock “sponsor” (my sister’s boyfriend) had a band that opened for SAMHAIN the first time they came through, and had become friendly with Mr. Zig. By way of doing me a solid, a polite introduction was made. Glenn was less than enthused to be shaking the hand of a 15 year old kid, but I was meeting a hero of sorts and was anxious to find out a little about our mutual interest: comics.

I asked “What comics do you read?”

He replied “Nothing you would know.”

“Like what?”

“Mostly ’50s stuff.”

“You’re into EC’s: Krigstein, Wood, Elder…?”


“Well I can tell that you like Michael Golden!”

“Uh yeah, he’s one of my favorite artists”

“I know – you ripped off your logo off of the cover of Crystar #8″

“Uhhh … I had to finish it!”

It’s true. The SAMHAIN/DANZIG iconic skull, synonymous with Glenn’s projects to this day, a symbol of darkness and menacing evil, is a tracing of a Michael Golden illustration used to sell one of the most half-witted, lame-brained children’s toy FLOPS of the last quarter-century. Admittedly.

Glenn's finished version - he "finished" the horns.

Michael Golden art detail

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31 Responses to “Esoteric Comics History part 666”
  1. Lane Milburn says:


  2. Lane Milburn says:

    Dude you just blew my mind.

  3. Mike LaVella says:

    At last, the truth comes out!

  4. noel says:

    I’m speechless…

  5. Hilarious, I didn’t know that.

    When I was like, 11, I had my picture in the paper because I displayed some of my comic book collection at the local library, which is funny, since I don’t think I had much of anything old, save for some poor-condition Marvel Tales reprints and a Daredevil #9 that had a cool Wally Wood cover.

    Anyway, one thing they latched on to was that I liked the comic Crystar and they mentioned his “frigid” powers, which always bugged me since he was crystal, not frozen.

    I think that first issue was on Baxter paper too.


  6. inkstuds says:

    Dude, you will always win in any nerdwar. always. that was amazing.

  7. Paul Bucciarelli says:

    Great story Frankie. I was the one that originally going to book them at the Banana but Danzig was such a douhebag to deal with that I said “Fuckit.”

  8. Daniel Jose Mata says:

    Who was taller?

  9. BVS says:

    wow, it’s news to me. what an amazing tale

  10. BVS says:

    15 year old kid calling out Danzig on a rip off ? your friend Spahr Schmitt has some huge balls.

  11. Julian says:

    I second the massive balls. Awesome story.

  12. Paul Bucciarelli says:

    Hey Spahr, I didn’t see your byline. I thought Frankie was the 15 year old telling the tale.

  13. Spahr says:

    Yes, Paul, my anecdote…
    It’s funny bvs, I never thought twice about calling him out, I was a cocky kid, I suppose.
    And this was a pre-steroid Glen – not so intimidating.
    We were standing eye to eye, and I never liked someone prejudging me.
    What’s funny is how hard he would later cling to Wolverine and “modern” comics.
    He was definitely playing the 50’s/60’s thing, then.
    I had several comic dealer friends who he patronized for decades,
    and he was well liked in those circles.
    After a few other encounters, there would be irrefutable proof of his pretentiousness,
    but I’ve gotta give it up to him for vision, talent and salesmanship!!!
    I mean, his appropriation of pop-culture reference points
    (the Misfits logo being adapted from the Famous Monsters masthead, or the Crimson Ghost becoming their mascot) may not seem inspired nowadays,
    but many other less talented cats, (Frank Kozik?) have really made a name doing that shit since then.
    Perhaps he was a populist art pioneer?
    Michael Golden, on the other hand, is still one of the giants in comics,
    a maverick, and a raw, unparalleled talent.
    Very few of his 80’s contemporaries have had his influence,
    and his work still comes from the mind through the hand –
    not photo referenced or researched.
    And those covers of Crystar are amazing!!!

  14. Spahr, you wrote “I mean, his appropriation of pop-culture reference points
    (the Misfits logo being adapted from the Famous Monsters masthead, or the Crimson Ghost becoming their mascot) may not seem inspired nowadays,
    but many other less talented cats, (Frank Kozik?) have really made a name doing that shit since then.”

    Totally. As someone who worked for Kozik, I can say he was a little sort on originality but he was great at re-combining imagery, making collage. But his posters weren’t “art” they were rock ‘n roll posters.

    I think Glenn is more interesting because he absorbed this old school “Horror” vibe from 50’s pop culture and brought it into the music. So, to me, he gets a pass because his swipes are sort of given new life and breathe on their own as symbols.

  15. […] Logo26. Apr, 20100 Commentstweetmeme_source='superheroesRus';tweetmeme_style='compact'; Share via comicscomicsmag.comNever noticed this and have never seen it mentioned before – the skull logo for Danzig is […]

  16. BVS says:

    it’s Crystar that makes this whole thing so amazing.if you would have said the danzig skull is ripped off from a Graham ingels comic, or an issue of Conan I would have thought nothing of it. but in the above mention cases danzig’s appropriation is transparent and a fan’s appropriation. he wrote songs about the movies he liked. I would think he would want his fans to seek out and watch the crimson ghost serials.
    but the thought of Danzig siting around reading Crystar, and having this silent moment of clarity while staring at the cover to issue #8 is hilarious. I might need to re listen to my SAMHAIN and early Danzig albums, but I don’t think there are any songs about Crystar the Crystal Warrior, but I could be mistaken.

  17. […] Comics | Frank Santoro exposes Glenn Danzig's swipe from Michael Golden's cover to Crystar #8. [Comics Comics] […]

  18. Paul Bucciarelli says:

    To this day it blows my mind that no legal action on the studio’s part was ever taken over the appropriation of the Crimson Skull image. Maybe not taken back in the old days but when they became a staple of Hot Topic…

  19. Matt Ampersand says:

    Wow, amazing, I had never heard of this! And I have seen that t-shirt SO many times in my punk rock days. I wish I would have known it back then.

  20. Dave Knott says:

    Danzig actually has a history of lawsuits with other artists.
    He paid H.R. Giger for the rights to use one of his paintings as the cover for “Danzig III: How The Gods Kill”. However, when Danzig starting using the artwork for t-shirts, Giger sued him for $3 million, claiming that this was not part of the deal.
    As reported in multiple music magazines at the time, Giger’s lawyer hired a process server to deliver complaint papers to Danzig. This individual went so far as to attend a Danzig concert, and attempted to crowd surf up to the stage in order to serve the papers. The tactic apparently did not work, but you have to admire his determination.

  21. Heather Mull says:


    I only regret that this website can’t offer an mp3 of you actually narrating this story with imitations of both Danzig and a 15-year old you!

    AND maybe you could throw in the story of Dan Allen having his hand-bones crushed when Rollins shook his hand for the first time at 2113 for good measure. “Aw maan, that hurt my haaand!”

  22. […] story is kinda epic because it takes two of my favorite worlds – comics and music – and tells the story of how they intersected at one unlikely point.  Even better, it exposes Dan Danzig, who plays it up a dark and foreboding stage presence, as having a soft spot for really, really dorky comics from the 1980s.   Seriously, if you lined your hamster’s cage with a copy of Crystar, you’d be lucky if you didn’t come back an hour later to find that the little rodent hadn’t left you a trail of excrement that spelled out “YOU’RE A MAJOR DORK, GET HELP.”  It was just that bad.  Follow the link, it’s a fun little story. […]

  23. […] awesome Labanotation. Tom Neely killed us with Henry & Glenn (that’s Rollins and Danzig, of Crystar fame) and he drew us a nice cock. The lovely Joey Sayers kept the beat with the second issue of […]

  24. Joey says:

    What needs to be understood is that “swpiing” in the punk/hc community is more homage than an attempt to steal something without anyone knowing. Bands regularly use slightly altered sports teams logos from their place of origin or symbols from books or movies they relate to. They will almost invariably be happy to tell you where they got them from, the intent is more to show you where the band or person is coming from be it idealogically or location wise. I know the cleveland hc band Integrity uses a skull cropped from the J.M Dematteis “Book of blood” granted that logo is a bit more finished and a “version” of the original but is what it is.

  25. Spahr says:

    Gee Joey, thanks for “enlightening” us to the idea of homage in the punk/hc community. I never would have realized that a band attempting to identify itself with its hometown by bastardizing a sport team’s logo, or making an ironic nod to an arena rock band’s stature by re-imagining their logo with Van Halen wings or Motley Crue umlauts, would constitute a homage and not “an attempt to steal something without anyone knowing”. But as far as Danzig is concerned, perhaps what you missed is the humor in the fact that Glenn obviously traced a Michael Golden drawing to use as the featured graphic for SAMAHAN and DANZIG albums , posters and t-shirts, and if it is as you suggested, “more to show you where the band or person is coming from be it idealogically or location wise”, then it’s an “homage” to a silly toy of a sword wielding crystal warrior – a pretty funny “location” for a rough-and-tumble bemuscled warlock to be coming from… err, then again, maybe not?

  26. tom says:

    Sorry- I didn’t mean to just jump on here and plug my book.
    That is a great story Spahr! Thanks for sharing Frank.

  27. […] logo Pretty cool. Didnt know about this. Comics Comics __________________ […]

  28. […] Look, we can all agree that The Misfits were a great band, that Samhain had their moments, and that the first 2 (or 3/4, depending on who you ask) Danzig albums are absolute fucking classics, but Glen Danzig himself is ripe for parody for his seeming extreme lack of self-deprecation. (Unlike Henry Rollins, who I think is treated unfairly in this regard. That dude has done more shit in his life than you could read about in yours.) I don’t know him personally, maybe he’s a great guy, but this seems illustrative of the kinds of stories you hear/read: kid approaches Danzig (with excitement, not awe), asks him about comics, catches him off-guard with his knowledge, then leaves him scrambling to explain some shit. The shit in question? The famous skull logo that graces all things Danzig. Why not just be cool, admit it and laugh it off? Read and learn from Frank Santoro via the Comics Comics Mag site. […]

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