A matter of comic genius [Gerard Way, Grant Morrison]
Two incredible creative forces will come together for the Graphic festival.
One is a New Jersey native whose band, My Chemical Romance, has packed stadiums for more than a decade. The other is a veteran comic-book writer from Glasgow, who has spent seven years giving voice to Batman. But Gerard Way and Grant Morrison have discovered they have a lot more in common than the surface suggests.
The pair will come together to present a show about comics, art, music and life for visual festival Graphic. An Australian premiere, the show is one of the drawcards of the four-day event, which also features Seth Green’s animated cult hit Robot Chicken Live and Pulitzer Prize-winning comic artist Art Spiegelman.
”It’s really exciting, because I rarely get to travel for anything other than music, so be able to go and not have heaps of bags of gear, and I get to sit and talk with my hero,” Way says.
A long-time fan of Morrison’s groundbreaking work – from the surreal insanity of The Invisibles to his legendary stint on Batman – the singer soon found it was a mutual appreciation society.
”I did an interview for Spin magazine and they were asking about my influences, so I talked about comics,” Way says.
The 36-year-old has been passionate about comics from an early age, studied at the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan and interned at DC’s famed graphic-novel house Vertigo.
”I spent one year at the visual arts school, where you do everything, then the next three years was studying everything from drawing to writing to colouring and inking – every aspect of a comic.”
But, playing music to be able to afford to work on his visual art, Way stumbled on to a 12-year career that would see his band sell nearly 4.5 million records, with four studio albums released, before their end in March this year.
”[The music] was purer than the comics I was working on; it wasn’t over-thought at all. It was just something that I did. But then, because I was so honest with the music, it took off. And I didn’t see that happening, because I wasn’t sitting there going, ‘I want to be this huge rock star.’ It was very, ‘I play music because I have to and I draw comics because I want to’.
”And the things I was trying to do, weren’t the things that took off.”
That was, until 2008 and the release of his acclaimed comic-book series The Umbrella Academy, which earned him and Brazilian illustrator Gabriel Ba an Eisner Award – the United States comic world’s equivalent to a Grammy.
He is now working on a six-part series, The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys, currently four issues in. Band fans will recognise the name, with the final My Chemical Romance record Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys sharing the title and the Bladerunner-esque, post-apocalyptic setting of the album’s videos for Na Na Na (Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na) and Sing – on which Morrison worked, too.
But it was when good friend Shaun Simon revealed the comic on which he was working was remarkably similar to the one kicking around in Way’s mind that Fabulous Killjoys, the comic, found the momentum it needed – and a wonderful illustrator in Becky Cloonan to bring it to visual life.
”Shaun Simon had this comic he was working on about reality and it was called The Killjoys. I was working on a comic at the time and I didn’t have a title for it, but when he told me about his, ‘The True Lives of the Fabulous’ popped into my head,” he says.
”A week later I called him and was like, ‘Hey, I think we’re both kind of working on the same thing’,” he says. ”So we started working on this together.”
The series continues with a young girl rescued from the all-powerful, decidedly evil corporation Better Living Industries by anti-establishment freedom fighters the Fabulous Killjoys.
In a creative business such as the comic world, where male superheroes and stories dominate, it’s refreshing to celebrate strong, interesting female roles – something close to Way’s heart, as father to a young daughter, Bandit.
”A lot of it has to do with the kids I’d see in the audience [at My Chemical Romance shows]. A lot of them were these young women, very strong personalities, very independent and very creative, but also like they were trying to find their place in the world,” he says.
”That had a pretty big impact on me.”
When: October 4-7; Gerard Way and Grant Morrison are in conversation on Saturday, October 5, at 9pm.
Where: Sydney Opera House
Tickets: From $39 ($39-$59), sydneyoperahouse.com.
Show Former My Chemical Romance frontman and graphic novel writer Gerard Way joins iconic comic-book creator Grant Morrison to share stories of life, loves, inspirations and creative processes.
Posted on 09/27/2013, in Gerard Way, Interview and tagged Dark Horse, Gerard Way, Grant Morrison, interview, Sydney Opera House, The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.