Books: Drujika, Contessa of Blood and Hidden Lyrics of the Left Hand
Type of Book: Graphic novels, adult comics, horror, music
Why Do I Consider These Books Odd: I don’t know. They just are.
Availability: I have no idea if these are in print or not. I couldn’t find them on the Verotik website. I purchased mine from the Verotik store on eBay. I found the Verotik website to be marginally less helpful than a Geocities site, circa 1997, so if this discussion causes you to want to look into Danzig’s comics, the Verotik store on eBay is probably your best bet.
Comments: When George Tierney of Greenville, South Carolina, showed his extraordinary misogyny, his complete misunderstanding of how the Internet works, and his ass, I checked to see what the Twitter response was to his delightful antics. Lots of moral outrage, but the best Twitter response came from an account ostensibly belonging to Glenn Danzig. Danzig’s response was the perfect: “I’d like to get @geotie2323 alone in a room.”
Of course I had to retweet that, as I am only human. Later I came to find that Glenn Danzig doesn’t even have an e-mail address (BOO!), so it was unlikely he had a Twitter account. Still, it was a nice moment in time.
Later I had a bizarre dream wherein a shirtless Glenn Danzig, as he looked in 1992, beat the hell out of the current model of Bill Maher. I have no idea what such a dream means because I like Bill Maher and have no desire to see him beaten up. So as I pondered what the hell that dream meant, I searched on Glenn Danzig. Goodness. He’s a polarizing dude. And he has cats, and a book collection and a cabinet of curiosities that I totally want to rummage through, though in a wholly respectful way.
I have all the books he spoke of in that video (are his books next to a pool? what the hell?) and I understand what he meant when he said “all documented, all true” in reference to Montague Summers’ book on werewolves. I feel like Glenn Danzig and I would find a lot of duplicates if we compared book collections.
I have to explain, however, that I am not that familiar with Glenn Danzig’s body of music. I was a bit too young for the Misfits, I sort of liked Samhain but they got zero radio play in Dallas, and by the time Danzig, the band, was on the rise I had sunk into a weird place of radio alterna-pop and black metal. (In spite of my ignorance of Danzig’s music, I can say this: the current, Danzig-less incarnation of The Misfits released one of the worst songs I have ever heard. “Helena” is both an homage to one of the crappiest and most unintentionally hilarious movies ever and also seems to be a rip-off of a much better song by Acid Bath. Seriously, don’t test me on how much I loathe that song.) I say this because I need y’all to know I can’t speak intelligently about Danzig’s music beyond just dying a little inside when I watch the video “Wicked Pussycat” because those clawed gloves Danzig wears reminds me of when Dwayne on the cartoon Home Movies played Mr. Pants, the fearsomely violent but easily flattered kitty cat.
Here they are for your comparison. Note that the above is NSFW in a major way.
The relevant part starts around at the one minute mark. Brendan Small imbued Nathan Explosion with a bit of Glenn Danzig, so who knows – maybe there is a bit of Danzig in Mr. Pants.
What I guess I’m saying is that for me Glenn Danzig’s music career, while definitely impressive, takes a back seat to the fact that he clearly has the same taste in books as I do and that he is also fond of cats. It was hard for me to see the humor in the macros generated from a grocery store trip wherein Danzig was buying cat litter. Honestly, we buy Mr. Oddbooks’ body weight in cat litter every month. What’s the interest in a man with a cat making sure it can crap someplace other than the floor?
The problem, of course, is that he is Glenn Fucking Danzig. I guess people would feel the same sense of shocked mockery were Lemmy Kilmister found carefully cultivating a butterfly garden. Men like Danzig, who at times seems like a Frank Frazetta character come to life, are not supposed to be caregivers or nurturers. But being who I am, knowing he has a couple of cats he takes care of made me like him so much I was willing to pay a substantial price for two of his comics, a price that Mr. Oddbooks, the real comic aficionado in this house, found shocking for something with a cover that to him was essentially an extended van mural as imagined by a 15-year-old dirtbag as he sketched on his Trapper Keeper in biology.
While Mr. Oddbooks may be a bit less than generous in his assessment, I can understand his reaction to the cover of Hidden Lyrics of the Left Hand. It’s a helluva cover if you aren’t prepared for it. Seriously, I feel like there is some DaVinci Code-level decoding that needs to happen here. A depiction of Danzig sits on a Giger-styled throne. Danzig is MASSIVE, arms bulging and covered in ropy veins, his black hair styled into small devil horns. His fingers are freakishly long. At his feet is a… what is she? A silver robot devil angel? Silver body, naked, bewinged, horned, enormous boobs (get used to the enormous boobs because this will come up often), she’s got a collar around her right thigh and Danzig is holding the chain leash. On Danzig’s right, there is a gothic honey with enormous breasts, her right hand on his thigh. She appears to be human. Behind her is what I can only describe as a voodoo robot Medusa. Yeah. Not sure what the hell she is.
But here’s where things get weirdly cryptic. To Danzig’s left stands a skeleton-headed nun, clutching a devil bodied, skull child. The skull child has a silver skull, but a different silver than the robot evil angel on the floor. And he has massive horns, indicating some devilry. Whose baby is she holding? Is it the offspring of Massive Danzig and the Gothic Honey clutching his thigh? Is the skull nun merely a nanny? Did Massive Danzig bone the skull nun and she is holding the unholy results of such a coupling? The mind boggles. The most puzzling part of this cover is the hand on Danzig’s right shoulder. We have a pretty clear view of the Gothic Honey’s right hand and the Medusa Voodoo Robot’s right hand, but the left hand on Danzig’s shoulder resembles neither.
BUT WHO WAS HAND? I have no idea who the gnarled, arthritic, masculine hand (though it has red painted nails) belongs to.
Luckily, most of the drawings inside are not as cryptic. This graphic novel/illustrated lyrics collection is based around Danzig, Samhain and Misfits lyrics that had evidently not been written out before? Maybe? I think that is what is going on. Danzig has an explanation of this book on the first page but I stopped reading when the third goddamned word was misspelled. In its way, this was the most horrifying part of this horror comic – the crappy editing. I asked Mr. Oddbooks if this was a common problem with comics and he said it depended and I decided to stop dragging him down with me as I investigated these books.
Because this was so Heavy Metal and Los Angeles Goth, I cannot emphasize how important female breasts are to Hidden Lyrics of the Left Hand. Rotting corpses have perfect, pneumatic breasts. A disemboweled woman in a shower has perfect breasts (her wounds end just under her sternum). It says something when one looks at a bombastic comic like this and says, of a drawing, “Wow, those are some fake-ass breasts.” Anyway, extreme violence and enormous, unreal knockers are the order of the day. And though I think Bisley is a pretty good illustrator, I fancied at times I could tell when he was bored as hell with what he was illustrating and his mind may have wandered. For example, the illustration for the lyrics for the Danzig song, “Naked Witch” has what can only be called “stealth peen.” The illustration is a mixed bag – a half-zombie, half-human witch, wha? – but in what I assume are tree branches behind this witch, is some decidedly phallic imagery. Hidden peen appears also in several other pictures, but most notably in “Warlok,” which I reproduce a snippet of here not to violate anyone’s copyright but rather to show I am not completely insane. Sometimes a cigar is a cigar but sometimes the smoke drifting up from a lit candle in a pentagram is totally a cock.
This is the only example I care to reproduce. I don’t want to become That Girl Who Looks for Cocks in Everything ™.
The best illustrations were for the Misfits songs. “Earth A.D.” features Danzig, more human looking this time, and an enormous representation of whom I can only assume is Doyle Von Frankenstein, the most notable Misfits guitarist, standing in an ocean of dead Roman Centurian body parts. “Die, Die My Darling” has what looks, hilariously, like a sexy, half-dead Tipper Gore in a revealing cat suit, lounging in a creepy library/laboratory, drinking a martini garnished with eyeballs. For whatever reason, Bisley’s drawing style lends itself better to humorous drawings than to more serious ones.
While I don’t know if I recommend this book, I can say that I found it fascinating because the drawings were so over-the-top and because Glenn Danzig is a man who has no reservations about showing his id. If he looks like a Frank Frazetta creation some to life, then that is all the better because he seems to be a man whose inner tastes run to extremity. As a person who has avoided growing up in the traditional manner one expects from adults of a certain age, I like that Danzig, a 57-year-old man, has the same gory, sexually-charged, outrageous interests he had when he was 17. He may have gotten a bit darker in tone as he aged, but, as this book shows, he’s been mining the same veins for a long time and he is clearly unapologetic about it. Still, even as I like Danzig, I suspect this book will only appeal to true fans of Danzig’s musical career.
Drukija, Contessa of Blood, however, may be of more interest to the general reader of gory comics, though this is not a comic as much as it is an illustrated free-form poem. This is Glenn Danzig’s riff on the Countess Bathory legend and it’s pretty well done. The drawings in this book are more restrained in style, though certainly extreme. One is of Contessa Drukija, stabbing a young woman and pulling the still beating heart out of her chest. Pretty foul stuff and fans of extreme horror will like this book. Only discordant note in this book is that Contessa Drukija is a dead ringer for Vampirella (though I guess there are only so many ways to draw enormous-breasted, raven-haired, creepily beautiful women who have a thing for blood) and a few of the drawings probably should pay royalties to Frank Frazetta, so utterly were they reminiscent of his work.
My only real issue with Danzig’s poetic prose is that no one should be called Grimstonia. Contessa Drukija de Grimstonia? Nein! That is a very bad name for an otherwise serious character because, truly, there is none of the camp in this book that I saw in Hidden Lyrics of the Left Hand. Grimstonia is the setting of a Mel Brooks vampire movie, not a mass-murdering Gothic killer. But otherwise the prose in this book was pretty good, though I confess that I didn’t pay much attention to the editing because I loathed the font and found reading it difficult enough without engaging in my usual picking apart of prose.
It was interesting how lyrical the text was, given that Danzig is, of course, a song-writer.
her majesty was skilled
in the sadistic torture
under her hand
the hand of a beastess
in its’ ungodly tasks
Well, we’ve got a British spelling in there, which is neither here nor there, as well as a misuse of the possessive, but this is no worse edited than most of the bizarro novels I read weekly. And there is something quite nice about the cadence of Danzig’s prose. It really is free-form poetry and I feared, when I saw this manner of writing, that he would veer into purple prose as he discussed the dreadful things that the Contessa does. He didn’t – he kept his writing restrained, allowing the horror to speak for itself. Not to say he didn’t revel in it as he wrote – he just didn’t write of it in the sort of romantic, flowery gorefest one expects from a Cradle of Filth album.
Best of all was the ending, a nice little meting of justice by paying the Contessa back in kind, blood for blood. No walling in by the king of Hungary for this Contessa, and I liked that. I’ve come to believe that Countess Bathory was likely no more than an imperious woman who was unkind to others and was set up by nobles in Hungary, most notably the king, because they owed her a lot of money she had loaned them during all the interminable wars Hungary had with the Turks. I have no idea if Danzig is aware of this theory (though it seems rather likely he is, given his reading habits), but his ending was perfect.
I have to admit, this is a pretty good book, or illustrated poem, or whatever it is. While Hidden Lyrics of the Left Hand is definitely something that will mostly appeal to fans of Danzig’s musical career, Drukija, Contessa of Blood will appeal to gore fans and people with an interest in the Bathory legend. I fall into both categories and own more than a few books about Countess Bathory, fiction and non-fiction, and I will definitely add this book to that specific collection.
All in all, though Mr. Oddbooks was shocked I spent $80 on two comics, I’m glad I did. It was fun because it prodded me into exploring the career of Glenn Danzig, a man whose interests intersect quite well with my own. Glenn Danzig also evidently penned a series called Ge Rouge, which sounds up my alley as it is about a Creole priestess in New Orleans, I believe. Verotik also has a comic based on an Ed Lee story that I am interested in running to ground. The Ed Lee story, which by interesting coincidence I just finished reading, was appalling in how bad it was, but it was so over-the-top that now that I see what Danzig’s imprint is all about, I can see the comic being infinitely better than the story that inspired it. So while I am unsure if any of you who read this will be interested in these books, I know I will likely track down more and, of course, will discuss them here when I do.