Over the weekend, Gerard Way took part in Comic-Con‘s virtual panel Dark Horse All-Stars. During the discussion, Way opens up about his history with comic books, his time in My Chemical Romance and The Umbrella Academy.
Way also reveals that My Chemical Romance’s most successful years are what led him to miss comic books more than ever.
Ahead of its release, Way joined Nnedi Okorafor and Matt Kindt in a Comic-Con panel to detail his experiences in the comic book world and more.
During the panel, Way reveals just how The Umbrella Academy came to be. For Way, he shares that, prior to its release, people only knew him as the vocalist of MCR. However, he already had years of comic book and cartooning experience.
“A lot of people at the time, right before Umbrella came out, knew me as a singer in a band,” he says. “But I had this long history with comics. And kind of making my own and getting published at 15 and using my grandmother’s typewriter. But then I went to the School of Visual Arts in New York City and my major was cartooning. So I had all these comic book classes and in my senior year, I interned at DC. I interned there for like a year.”
As Way continued to work in comics, however, My Chemical Romance began to take off. Eventually, his cartooning work was pushed to the side so he could focus on the band.
“Then this little project on the side, this band that I had started, really started to take off,” he says. “Then all of us quit our jobs and we get in the van and we just start touring. We don’t really have anywhere to live. We’re just going city to city, sleeping on floors, going show to show to kinda stay alive.”
My Chemical Romance eventually started to grow and become more successful. As his ambitions and goals with MCR were accomplished, his comic work faded further into the background. Way shares that life on the road and in the band made him miss comics more than ever.
“Then the band gets bigger and more successful, but the whole time I miss this other part of my life that I had to kinda walk away from,” he continues. “I really missed comics and I had always loved them.”
While on the road, Way began reading the re-release of Doom Patrol. The comic is eventually what inspired him to get back into comic books and creating again.
“One of the things that really inspired me is I was on tour, and DC had just started to re-release Grant Morrison and Richard Case’s Doom Patrol, so I started reading those,” he says. “I had read some of them when I was a kid working at a comic shop at 15 years old, but this was kind of like a new way to read them. It refreshed my memory, and I got to read the whole thing as they would come out. And I said to myself, ‘I have to do a comic.'”
For The Umbrella Academy, Way says the idea for the comic came to be following his past experiences in the industry.
“There was nothing like The Umbrella Academy because the mainstream companies were so concerned with continuity and things like that,” he continues. I just wanted to throw people right into the story. Technically, the first issue of The Umbrella Academy could’ve been like the 70th issue.”
As well, the majority of the story and characters came to be while Way was out on the road with My Chemical Romance.
“I started working on all of the characters while on the road, just doing designs of them and putting a real pitch together and sent that to Dark Horse,” he says. “That was the company where I wanted to be because I liked what they were putting out.”
Way says that many Dark Horse comics led to the inspiration for The Umbrella Academy. He notes Hellboy as one of his favorites and says that Screw-On Head had a “big influence” on him while creating The Umbrella Academy.
The full Comic-Con panel featuring Way is available to watch below. Season 2 of The Umbrella Academy hits Netflix on July 31.
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