Mathew Quitney writes,
Moderated by Jamie Rich, the editor of Doom Patrol, the WonderCon panel today delved into Gerard Way's comics origin.
Asked about his earliest comic memories, Way spoke about having his tonsils removed in third grade. His Grandmother bought a three pack of random comics from the supermarket, and started the obsession.
Way spoke about how he wanted to be an artist from early on. "I was always into trying different stuff." Way talked about his early grade school writing, music, and D&D games.
For readers of his Doom Patrol, the comic shop in Dannyland was the local comic shop that he grew up going to. If you're familiar with the shop, you can see some of its staff depicted. This is where he discovered books such as DKR and Love and Rockets.
Grant Morrison's Doom Patrol was his first exposure to the concept of group therapy and characters with mental health issues and serious problems. "I found the comics to be therapeutic, and help you understand the difference between you and other people, and to embrace these differences."
"I started to get into super violent…early indie books like Faust." That was the sort of book that Way started out writing, and felt that the discovery of Vertigo opened him up to emotional writing. He had been working as a toy designer while writing, and had to walk away from both when his music career exploded.
Jamie Rich pointed out Gerard Way's talent at writing titles and naming characters, citing his song lyrics and leading into speaking about Umbrella Academy. The band hadn't been creating much during their massive tours, and Way missed feeling creative. Reading newly released reprints of Doom Patrol and DC's New Frontier inspired him to make fun and unique comics.
Umbrella Academy came out a year after finishing Welcome to the Black Parade. Way had submitted a pitch to Dark Horse, where he had drawn out the characters and the world. Gabriel Ba was brought on through the editors at Dark Horse. Way spoke about how implicitly Ba understood what he was going for with the scripts. Gerard Way tried to make the series as accessible as possible for any readers unfamiliar with the intricacies of comics.
Way announced that he is currently working on more Umbrella Academy. "Volume 3 takes a look at some of the villains and other characters we haven't explored." It gets deeper into the psychology and rehabilitation of villains, and deals with strange and unusual punishment. Everyone from the original team will be returning.
"I always planned there to be 8 graphic novels. We want to have at least 1 series a year. It's slower going but it's still on track."
To the excitement of his fans, Way let slip that he had just finished building a home studio and was looking forward to making music again.
Way spoke about how exciting it is to see fans cosplaying his characters, and to see their interpretations.
"With the creation of YA, we didn't seek to recapture the feeling of what Vertigo was doing in the beginning. There was no Gotham book or adventure book in early Vertigo."
Way talked about how songs will just spill out of him, but comics are a lot more work and take more time.
He spent his twenties wanting to do positive things but used negativity to try and accomplish them. After the band broke up and Way completed Hesitant Alien, he wanted to be a calmer and better person.
The comics need to come first and the music should be a secondary part of it. Way and Rich agreed that this was first achieved with the Cave Carson cassettes. "Killjoys was a little too much…" with Way citing the videos and everything that needed to go into those.
"My brain really clicked with comics".