The iconic skull logo used by Glenn Danzig for his bands Samhain and Danzig actually originates from Marvel Comics’ 1980s title Saga of Crystar.
In the world of heavy metal, very few bands can claim to have a logo as instantly recognizable — and as marketable — as Danzig, the group formed by horror punk pioneer Glenn Danzig in 1987. There’s just no denying that the iconic horned skull looks great on a t-shirt. However, one of the industry’s worst-kept secrets is that Danzig’s logo was lifted directly from the cover of an obscure 1980s Marvel comic book.
It’s important to note that while the horned skull is most commonly associated with the band Danzig — having prominently appeared on the cover of its eponymous debut album in 1988, a number of other releases and the aforementioned t-shirts — Glenn Danzig’s use of the logo actually dates back to his time as the frontman of Samhain.
Glenn Danzig formed Samhain in 1983 following the dissolution of his previous band, The Misfits. Between August 1983 and May 1984, Samhain recorded its first studio album, Initium, which officially released in August of ’84. While the horned skull isn’t nearly as big as it is on Danzig’s debut album, it is still clearly visible at the top of Initium‘s artwork, just above Samhain’s name. The band also featured the logo on its 1986 album Samhain III: November-Coming-Fire, as well as various pieces of promotional material.
Between early 1983 and early 1985, the House of Ideas published an 11-issue limited series titled Saga of Crystar, Crystal Warrior, which coincided with the release of Remco’s line of Crystar toys. 1984’s Saga of Crystar, Crystal Warrior #8 by Mary Jo Duffy and Ricardo Villamonte features a cover by artist Michael Golden, co-creator of Rogue.
Golden’s cover artwork sees the characters of Crystar and Ambara perched atop a skull-shaped rock — a rock that just so happens to look identical to the logo later used by Samhain and Danzig. Crystar #8 originally hit comic shops on April 3, 1984. Initium would arrive in record stores just four months later. By all accounts, Glenn Danzig never received permission from Golden or Marvel to use the skull as his logo.
Of course, Crystar wasn’t the first property Glenn Danzig « borrowed » a skull-themed logo from. The Misfits’ iconic « fiend skull » logo originated from Republic Pictures’ 1946 film serial The Crimson Ghost. The key difference, however, is that by the time The Misfits formed in 1977, The Crimson Ghost had already been in the public domain for six years and Republic had already been defunct for a decade.
It’s unsurprising that Danzig turned to comic books when looking for a new logo after The Misfits broke up. The horror rocker is a lifelong fan of the medium with a noted affinity for Marvel’s Wolverine. In fact, he was actually invited to audition for the role of Logan in 20th Century Fox’s original X-Men film, though turned the offer down, with the role ultimately going to Hugh Jackman.
Danzig even got into the comic book writing game himself in the 1990s through his own publishing company, Verotik — and that’s on top of the sheer number of songs he’s written over the years. So, while Danzig is something of a polarizing figure in the world of music, it’s pretty hard to accuse him of being uncreative. Still, considering just how much money Danzig made off of the iconic horned skull logo, it should not be forgotten that the illustration was not the work of the band’s frontman himself but, rather, comic artist Michael Golden.
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