“I like the titles from The Umbrella Academy issues better than my song titles now,” Gerard Way announced at his Saturday afternoon panel at Comic-Con International. “They’ve leveled up. There’s nothing better than titling an issue of Umbrella Academy.” The frontman of My Chemical Romance, Way is also a longtime comics fan — he mentioned that he’d freaked out about seeing Jeff (Bone) Smith the night before, and rhapsodized over Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard’s The Walking Dead (“After The Walking Dead, I don’t know that you can touch zombies. It’ll be a good five or 10 years before somebody else can do a zombie comic”).
Of course, Way has also become an award-winning comics writer himself in the last few years. At the overflowing panel that’s now an annual Comic-Con tradition, he announced two new comic books he’s working on: the third Umbrella Academy miniseries, subtitled Hotel Oblivion and drawn by the Brazilian artist Gabriel Bá, and a new series called The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys, drawn by Becky Cloonan (Demo). Way talked to Rolling Stone about the new comics, as well as the MCR record that’s in progress right now.
What’s the story with The Fabulous Killjoys?
It’s written by myself and my co-creator Shaun Simon. He was the keyboard player in Frank [Iero]’s first band, he’s our good friend, he was our merch guy. I think a lot of ideas we came up with back then in the band are what ended up in Killjoys.
Like the notion of driving by a children’s playground off to the side of the desert and realizing that it’s a cemetery because it’s where childhood dies — stuff that we’d say to each other, driving around. But it’s from the perspective of a gang, because that’s basically what a young band is. You stop being a gang at a certain point, but you always chase that feeling. You want to get that feeling back.
How has it been working with Becky Cloonan?
She’s awesome. When I first talked to her about it, she sent me a sketch of Rachel, one of the characters, and I knew right away she had to be the artist for the book. The great thing about her is that she comes from that world. She went to SVA, and she got her start doing show fliers for CBGBs — she saw the bands and went to the shows. She’s very punk rock in that way, and her art has that energy that a punk show has.
You’ve talked about your master plan for The Umbrella Academy; where does Hotel Oblivion fit into the big picture?
It’s pulling further away from what people think a superhero comic, or even a comic, can be. It’s going to trigger a major event that needs to happen in the comic. I’m very excited for it.
What’s happening with the next My Chemical Romance album?
I’d say we’re right in the middle of it. Brendan [O’Brien] is the kind of producer who really likes a lot of things going on at once, so we’re tracking and he’s going right across the hall and mixing. It’s a process that always keeps everyone involved the whole time. The songs are all wildly different, but the one I’m really excited about is called “Death Before Disco.” It’s a completely different sound for the band — it’s like an anti-party song that you can party to. I can’t wait for people to hear it. It brings back, lyrically, some of that wonderful fiction from the first album. I think we wrote our “Born to Run,” and I’m so amped about that. To me, it’s the greatest song we’ve ever written — it’s my favorite MCR song.
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