With My Chemical Romance still in hibernation, former frontman Gerard Way has pivoted toward an early love: comics.
Last April, Way announced he would curate a new DC effort targeted toward older readers called Young Animal. The first of the four titles will roll out this fall, kick-starting the imprint of which Way will write “two-and-a-half.” He also wrote the alt-universe Eisner-winning limited series, The Umbrella Academy, that Universal Cable Production optioned last year for a series.
Way joined EW’s Tim Leong at the EW Con-X stage to discuss his own imprint, the scariest moment of adapting Doom Patrol, female creators, and the music that inspires his writing. Here are our takeaways.
Landing an imprint wasn’t on Way’s radar
Leong described Way’s accomplishment akin to an athlete nabbing a personalized sneaker from Nike. But it might be even bigger than that, given the autonomy and guidance as a curator.
“It all stemmed out of Doom Patrol and the desire to write Doom Patrol, which had been my lifelong dream, between making music and writing Doom Patrol — that was pretty much what I had,” Way explained of how Young Animal came to be.
He started out by going through the DC canon and picking out rarely used characters: “My favorite characters are the ones that are counted out already, maybe they’re B-lister, C-lister characters. I find you can do the most exciting things with those kinds of characters.”
Four titles are being developed under his creative guidance, three with some writing contribution from Way: Doom Patrol, Cave Carson Has A Cybernetic Eye, and Mother Panic. (Cecil Castellucci handles writing duties on Shade, The Changing Girl.)
Many primary characters are daughters — and not just because Way has one
Way noted the strong parental-daughter relationships in the four in-progress works, but he claims, “It just happened.”
“A lot of the characters, the lead characters are women,” he said, “and I think that has something to do with the parent-daughter, parent-child situation.”
Way noted how critical it is to have female and varied creators aboard his projects: “Moving forward, it’s more important to have more kinds of diversity in there. Just to keep an eye on it: You should try to include people whenever you can.”
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Writing Doom Patrol was a horrifying dream come true
Way’s one comic he wishes he could have written is Grant Morrison’s Doom Patrol. Since he’s now working on it, everything is extra special. But the scariest moment about taking on Doom Patrol was working over ideas in Morrison’s Los Angeles apartment and pitching ideas, in front of the man himself.
“He would be like, ‘Okay, what’s your first issue of Doom Patrol?'” he recalled, “and I would have to stand there and tell him everything. I was really scared. That’s when I realized there’s a lot of holes in this cheese. I got to figure it out.”
The intense grilling wasn’t a hazing process: Morrison has given his blessing and endorsement to Way to take on Doom Patrol.
Don’t listen to MCR when trying to write
To begin his writing process, Way typically threw on Black Sabbath, Sleep or ethereal instrumental tracks to help with Doom Patrol; one album usually puts him into a writing zone that propels him. But he doubts anyone could listen to anything MCR to center them.
“I couldn’t imagine writing anything while listening to that,” Way said. “It’s just constantly hitting you in the face with that band. It really grabs the listener and says, ‘You must listen to me right now.'”
Con-X is a four-day getaway in Embarcadero Marina Park North in downtown San Diego. Made for all fans, Con-X allows anyone to get a taste of Comic-Con for free with panels, Q&A, trivia, music, screenings and more. Con-X runs through Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. PT each day.
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