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The Real Reason Gerard Way Wrote The Umbrella Academy Comics

Some viewers of Netflix's grim yet lively superhero show "The Umbrella Academy" may not be aware that the "gifted" (many would say "cursed") Hargreeves family originally appeared in a comic book series of the same name. Even more fans of the show might not know that the comics were created and written by Gerard Way. If that name is unfamiliar, you may otherwise know him as the lead singer of My Chemical Romance (MCR).

Stylistically within the realm of alternative rock and pop punk, MCR entered their golden age with the release of their third album, "The Black Parade," in 2006 (via NPR's The Record). It's perhaps equally surprising that just one year later, Dark Horse Comics began publishing a six-issue limited series written by Way. Considering how busy of a time this must have been in Way's life, what motivated him to branch out and invest in such a different kind of project?

Way didn't want his music career to quash his love for comics

As it turns out, Gerard Way already had experience with writing comics prior to the public success of either MCR or "The Umbrella Academy." During the "Dark Horse All-Stars" panel at 2020's virtual San Diego Comic-Con, Way said, "I had this long history with comics, and kind of making my own and getting published at 15 and using my grandmother's typewriter. But then I went to the School of Visual Arts in New York City, and my major was cartooning. So I had all these comic book classes, and in my senior year I interned at DC – I interned there for like a year" (via NME).

As MCR became increasingly popular, all of its members quit their day jobs. The band's area of impact continued to grow, yet Way found himself reflecting on the fact that comics were now less present in his life but no less of an important part of it. Amid a demanding touring schedule, the singer started reading rereleased issues of "Doom Patrol," parts of which he had read as a 15-year-old working in a comic book shop. "This was kind of like a new way to read them; it refreshed my memory, and I got to read the whole thing as they would come out. And I said to myself, 'I have to do a comic,'" Way said. And that's exactly what he did.