My Chemical Romance's Gerard Way has always loved comic books.
His first job, in high school, was at a local comic book shop in New Jersey. He didn't actually collect a paycheck each week — his compensation came in the form of free comic books. He idolized the likes of Neil Gaiman, Alan Moore, Frank Miller and Grant Morrison. Long before the band was formed, Way attended the School of Visual Arts in New York, where he majored in illustration and cartooning. He wanted to be a comic book artist so badly that he later interned at DC Comics.
That dream never panned out, which is perhaps for the best. Now that Way has made a name for himself as the leader of My Chemical Romance, it's been much easier for him to launch "The Umbrella Academy," a new book he's been working on with artist Gabriel Bá. The volume hits stores through Dark Horse Comics on September 19 (see "My Chemical Romance's Gerard Way Gets Graphic, Pens Comic Book Series").
Way unveiled the book over the weekend at San Diego's Comic-Con 2007 (see "Comic-Con '07: Big News On 'Iron Man,' 'Watchmen,' 'Star Trek,' 'Spidey 4' Amid Carnival Atmosphere"), where he admitted that it's kind of hard to describe just what "The Umbrella Academy" is all about.
"It's much like when we were starting the band — the band was very hard to explain to people, and they just kind of had to hear it," he said between signings. "I tell people they just have to read the comic. But in short, a [closeted] space alien has adopted seven extraordinary children to save the world. He never tells [them] from what. He's a really bad father, and he dies of a heart attack, and they are all kind of stuck to figure out the rest."
The series starts off when the members of the Umbrella Academy, now well into their adult years and disbanded, learn that their adoptive father, Sir Reginald Hargreeves, has died. When news of a world-ending threat is made public, the former team members must put their differences aside and unite to do what they've been trained to do — save us all from impending doom. Think "X-Men," but with a more gothic feel.
"The biggest idea with the comic for me was, number one, writing a comic," he explained. "I've been wanting to write one. It's fun. I think I can say something I can't necessarily say with my music. But also, I wanted to get people into comic shops, people who normally wouldn't [go], because I love the medium.
"A lot of books had a very big impact on me, and they kind of shaped my lyrics, the band's aesthetic, everything," he continued. "There's a song called 'The Ghost of You' on [2004's Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge], which is named after a perfume ad in the 'Watchmen' [graphic-novel series]. Comics have been such a big part of me and the band for such a long time, and I just want people to check out comics."
As for the rumors that My Chemical Romance had begun writing material for the follow-up to 2006's The Black Parade, Way said there's no truth to them.
"We're not working on a record," he said. "We're touring and getting some distance from writing music. We'll finish out touring, take a break and then come back and write. It will be quite awhile before there's another My Chemical Romance album. We said a lot of what we wanted to say with Black Parade, so we're going to have to find something completely new to say, and that could take some living, some touring, some hardships. It's all about finding what the next thing is for yourself, for your band, and we're still searching for that. We'll be searching for a while, I think."
The band has quashed its beef with Marilyn Manson, which is good, Way said, "because I hate talking about it." A couple of months back, Manson said in an interview with The London Paper that he'd written the song "Mutilation Is the Most Sincere Form of Flattery," from his new album Eat Me, Drink Me, as an attack on My Chemical Romance. Said Manson: "I'm embarrassed to be me because these people are doing a really sad, pitiful, shallow version of what I've done." Way later responded that nothing Manson could say would bring the band down, writing it off as Manson using the MCR name to promote his latest LP.
"There's really nothing going on there," he said. "We played a festival in Norway with them, and [guitarist] Frank [Iero] just went up to them, said hi and asked if there was anything wrong. They said no, and that was the end of it."