'Under the Radar' Q&A with SVA Alumnus Gerard Way
November 29, 2016
smiling young adult
distorted color of a man holding milk

From Under the Radar: “Gerard Way and I are sitting in the Donor Lounge of Durham's Carolina Theatre on the second day of North Carolina Comicon. Way was formerly the frontman for My Chemical Romance from 2001 to 2013 and in 2014 released his debut solo album, Hesitant Alien. But in recent years he's also been focusing on his successful comic book writing career, most notably with his Eisner Award winning series for Dark Horse Comics, The Umbrella Academy. This afternoon Way's made his way up to the lounge just after finishing a panel for Mother Panic, one of the four new titles he's launched for his Young Animal imprint on DC Comics. This morning was the panel for Shade, The Changing Girl and tomorrow there will be ones for the two comics Way is personally writing, Cave Carson Has a Cybernetic Eye and Doom Patrol. At last night's ‘An Evening With Gerard Way’ he kicked off the event by reading something he'd written the morning after the election two days previous. ‘I'm not going to talk about politics,’ and proceeded very movingly to speak about what is needed right now for us as people to keep going and heal. How important it is to create, and in doing so create the world around us and make a better one. And how absolutely vital it is to have the courage to be who you are. In their own way (and Gerard imagines the four series will link up at points), each of these new comics are dealing with precisely these things—characters coming to terms with the strange and violent new worlds they find themselves in—and taking them on with style and heart…

What did you learn from writing The Umbrella Academy and The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys that you're now bringing to Young Animal?

[Gets excited.] I learned a lot from working with two great editors, Scott Allie [Umbrella Academy] and Sierra Hahn [Killjoys]. Obviously I had gone to SVA [School of Visual Arts] and I had great teachers like Klaus Janson, Carmine Infantino, Sal Amendola, Joe Orlando before he passed away, Joey Cavalieri, and Dame Darcy, a smattering of different types of comic book artists and writers. So in coming into Umbrella Academy it was like getting a crash refresher course from Scott about mechanics. My first instinct was just to throw a bunch of weirdness out there and see what sticks. But Scott made me go in and re-engineer that to make it pay off. It can't just be weird, you have to have some meaning behind what you're doing. There has to be a reason for the weirdness. I learned a lot from him, a lot about dialogue. He definitely beat me into shape. Some of those comics I had to do eight drafts of, I think even one of them had nine drafts.

And with Killjoys I learned how to really be a collaborator with somebody making a book. Sharing and compromise, things like that. Coming together with somebody else to make one shared vision. And Sierra was great for that. Very encouraging, very inspiring. A great editor asks the right questions. I've been very lucky to work with great editors constantly…” (continue reading)