Returning to comics — and to Doom Patrol in particular — has been on Gerard Way’s wish list for a long time. But it took a concerted effort to make it happen.
“Doom Patrol is something I was always interested in writing,” says Way, who publishes Doom Patrol Vol. 1: Brick By Brick — sketches from which can be found exclusively below — on June 6 via his Young Animal imprint with DC. “When I was in My Chemical Romance it was so busy all the time. The timing of it finally worked out; I hit this point after my first solo record (2014’s Hesitant Alien) where I said, ‘I think I want to write comics for a year or two’ and just focused on that, so that’s what I’ve been doing.”
Way joins a legion of authors — including Paul Keeprburg, Grant Morrison, Rachel Pollack, John Arcudi, John Byrne and Keith Giffen — in bringing the superhero misfit crew to the page, working with artist Nick Derington. The new series focuses on EMTs Casey Brink and Sam Reynolds, who were last seen during the spring of 2011. “It’s spoken to me for a really long time,” says Way, who worked at the Cartoon Network before starting My Chemical Romance in 2001 and subsequently wrote comics such as the award-winning The Umbrella Academy and The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys. “Even when it was coming out when I was young, it was very experimental. It was kind of my first exposure to mental health awareness and group therapy and things like that — and I loved the characters, obviously. It’s definitely a personal attachment. The characters really spoke to me. It’s amazing to write for them.”
Way claims a particular affinity to the Grant Morrison era of Doom Patrol, the series’ second volume, which provided source material for his incarnation of the tale. “This is a new, original story, but it does connect to Grant’s run, and it connects a little bit to the original run and to the Rachel Pollack run and to what Keith Giffen did,” says Way, who started working on his Doom Patrol series during early 2016. “I deeply care about these characters. I really do care about their history. I know it changes in comics all the time, but I’m putting nods to a lot of their past stories in mine while at the same time trying to make it accessible to people who aren’t familiar with these stories.”
Way has also brought his music into the comic realm for another of his Young Animal books, Cave Carson Has a Cybernetic Eye. He recorded two tracks to accompany the series — “Into The Cave We Wander” and “Pogi’s Cavern” — with former MCR mate Ray Toro, and he’s open to making more music for his Young Animal titles.
“I was really inspired,” Way says. “I had tried the comics/music thing before The Killjoys. That didn’t quite work in terms of how I feel how artistically connected and successful they were, and a lot of that was because the music part with MCR overshadowed the book. This feels more natural; I just do it when I’m inspired. I like doing things that are accurate to the world of the comics. That’s really fun. And we talk about doing a whole Young Animal record, so we’re working on that right now.”
Way is also starting to eyeball a second solo album, with “a bunch of stuff I’ve written over the past couple of years” already in motion. “I’m just about to seriously figure out my schedule in terms of how many weeks I’m writing comics and how many weeks I’m writing music,” Way explains. “There’s a plan to put something out; I don’t know when that’ll come, but the process is starting.” Despite Toro’s involvement in the Cave Carson songs, however, don’t expect to hear from MCR in the near future.
“I wouldn’t count (a reunion) out, but at the same time everybody’s doing stuff in their lives now that they’re really enjoying,” Way says. “In some ways I don’t really miss it; It had gotten so big it was very unwieldy. It took a toll on my mental life and personal life. The thing I’m happiest about right now is everybody’s relationships with each other are really strong. That’s more important than anything else to me.”