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A matter of comic genius [Gerard Way, Grant Morrison]

Two incredible creative forces will come together for the Graphic festival.

Grant Morrison

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.

The man considered a god in the comic world was similarly blown away by My Chemical Romance’s 2006 video for Welcome to the Black Parade, in particular its over-the-top spectacle and Way’s ambitious juxtaposing of the lost misfits with the soldier returning from war.

”I did an interview for Spin magazine and they were asking about my influences, so I talked about comics,” Way says.

Gerard Way”I talked about Grant’s work a great deal and he caught wind of that and reached out, as he was a fan of what I was doing. So, we had lunch – and I was obviously pretty nervous – but we’ve gotten really close. We also hit it off because we have a lot of things in common. We both do things very differently and we both do what we want to do.”

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.”

Graphic

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.

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The True Lives Of The Fabulous Killjoys: CHAPTER 4 >>> RUN!

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There’s sense of Déjà vu that occurs toward the end of the chapter that sends shivers down your spine. As the radio plays and the night moves along, you suddenly hear a familiar voice, one much unexpected. Perhaps, over time, you may have forgotten it or perhaps the bombastic voice of anarchy and youthful rebellion had been forever ingrained in your head. Either way, this is the moment you know that Killjoys is more than just a flash-in-the-pan series, but a decade spanning project of love.
 
The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys>>> Chapter 4: Run! certainly lives up to its title. With the BL/Ind breathing down everyone’s necks, all the key players make a mad dash towards their own hopes, dreams, nightmares and fears. With Red and Blue trying to escape Battery City, The Girl trying to escape her past and Krause trying to escape his employers, things certainly escalate quickly for our motley crew of freedom fighters. What follows is a heart-wrenching, nail biting and shocking issue that is without a doubt the highlight of this already excellent series.
 
It’s not every day that I am compelled to re-read an issue the second I finish it, I tend to let it digest first. However as of this review, I have re-read this issue four times now and each time I find myself lost in wonder and cringing with unease. As we head towards the dénouement, Way & Simon has made sure all that hard work and fan favouritism has paid off. This chapter is the reason I told you to bone up on your Danger Days! and those of you who did will have undoubtedly received the same goose bumps I have. This is a shining example of how to plot a series.
 
Cloonan & Jackson’s homage to the 80’s punk films of yesteryear continue to be the cherry on top of a very decadent sundae. Just check out that splash page featuring Red & Blue, it’s a marvel to behold. It seems that Cloonan has found a perfect match with Jackson and his vibrant colour scheme. Their loose and cartoony style really helps to juxtapose the darker elements of the issue, and man, does it get dark.
 
With the finish line in sight, The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys>>> Chapter 4: Run! is revving it’s engine and firing on all cylinders. I’m not too keen on perfect scores, but I was hard pressed to find a reason against awarding one. Killjoys, you are perfect, now make some noise!
 
The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys>>> Chapter 4: Run!
Script / Gerard Way & Shaun Simon
Art / Becky Cloonan
Colours / Dan Jackson
Letters / Nate Peikos
Cover(s) / Becky Cloonan & Gabriel Ba
Publisher / Mike Richardson for Dark Horse Comics

Click at pictures!
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An exclusive conversation with Gerard Way, Becky Cloonan & Shaun Simon, Part Two

 Part two of an interview with Gerard Way and Killjoys collaborators Shaun Simon and Becky Cloonan about life, the future and the past.

tumblr_ml4b876TxV1rc4uovo1_500As issue two of The True Lives Of The Fabulous Killjoys is released, we thought it was time to catch up with author and My Chemical Romance frontman Gerard Way, as well as writer Shaun Simon and artist Becky Cloonan. To read the first part of this interview, click here

This is part of a series of articles published to celebrate the ongoing Killjoys series, with the main interview in this month’s issue of Rock Sound.

How do you feel about fans approaching this as an extention of the band?
Gerard: “Shaun was there at the beginning. He had a band [Pencey Prep, which also featured MCR guitarist Frank Iero] before we had a band. He watched My Chem get born and watched one of his best friends join, then he got into the band with us, but we had no money to pay him but we were all drifters back then. He’s part of that story. For Becky, she was there during the MCA years and before that, and we’re all connected to music in a weird way.”

When you look at the world as a whole, what are your gut reactions?
Gerard: “There’s a lot of hate, homophobia and discrimination, but I always look at the world as a pretty incredible place filled with courage, art and integrity, and sometimes it goes unpronounced. You can be a part of that, you can make it happen. It’s not about getting the credit for that, it’s about having valour and doing the right thing. The world at large is beautiful and incredible, and I started to view the bad stuff as chaos. You’re not going to have a beautiful place full of many different components, like the human race, without chaos and people acting out within that chaos. That’s where I think all the bad comes from; byproducts of our chaotic nature as human beings. We can’t really help that. You’re either on one side or the other. But my world is pretty positive.”

Shaun: “The world – everything is there, it’s just what you pull out of it yourself. There is a lot of great stuff out there, you’ve just got to find it. But I would like the option to have a rock station in New York instead of one continuous chain of crap.”
Becky: “Sometimes I get into the habit of thinking things were better a few years ago, or 10 years ago or 100 years ago. The music or the writing was really cool, but thinking of now, with all the changes happening, it’s the best time. The internet is changing everything. I can’t imagine growing up now and having all of that at my fingertips. It takes the adventure out of finding new things, but on the other hand I wish I had access to all this growing up. But I don’t know how much of that would’ve affected me, because so much of who I am was built on being 14 and trying to figure out who I want to be.”

Gerard: “It’s been a long time since I’ve woken up and I can’t wait to play guitar while being a mentally present father. Towards the end of MCR I was just… there… and when I reconcile that with myself you can’t make up for lost time but you can make the time you have great. One thing I’m thankful for is that I figured out some stuff pretty early. Was I ready to be a dad? No, but I’m great at it. You can’t be two people in your brain, one rock dude and a dad – there’s something in the middle of them, and that’s really what you are and that’s going to make you the best dad, not when you try to be one or the other. I’m still sleeping four hours a night and still grabbing instruments. The abstractions are pouring out of me and they’re making more sense than trying to craft them into a meaning.”

To read more pick up Rock Sound Issue 177 now, for more on The True Lives Of The Fabulous Killjoys head to darkhorse.com.

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Red the first part of the interview with Gerard Way, Becky Cloonan & Shaun Simon

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PREVIEW: The True Lives Of The Fabulous Killjoys #3

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  • STORY BY: Gerard Way, Shaun Simon
  • ART BY: Becky Cloonan
  • COVER BY: Becky Cloonan, Dan Jackson, Gabriel Ba
  • PUBLISHER: Dark Horse Comics
  • COVER PRICE: $3.99
  • RELEASE DATE: Wed, August 14th, 2013

“The pulse is beating like a cheetah on speed!” – No longer content to hide from the prying eyes and lies of BLI, the Girl tries her hand at learning how to fire a ray gun with the help of a former Killjoy, Cherri Cola. But when her vision bends and her mind opens, will the Girl see beyond sight and view more than she can handle? How far can you see when you lose focus?

• From the creator of The Umbrella Academy!

• Art by 2013 Eisner nominee Becky Cloonan!

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An exclusive conversation with Gerard Way & Becky Cloonan & Shaun Simon, Part 1

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As issue two of The True Lives Of The Fabulous Killjoys is released, we thought it was time to catch up with author and My Chemical Romance frontman Gerard Way, as well as writer Shaun Simon and artist Becky Cloonan. This is part of a series of articles published to celebrate the ongoing Killjoys series, with the main interview in this month’s issue of Rock Sound, and the second part of this feature landing online on July 31.

Where does this release fit into the My Chemical Romance timeline?
Gerard: “The end of My Chem was the end. This was always intended to come out, maybe not the way it was originally written, but that’s just the case with everything. This is exactly what it was supposed to be. Anything in there that is relevant to the birth or ending of anything is not intentional. It’s the beginning of an awesome comic book career for Shaun, for Becky it’ll be a continuation of an awesome career. For me, it’s gonna be me stepping away from comics. So it’s beginnings and endings in a lot of ways.”

A lot of the story concerns teenage rebellion – Gerard and Shaun, as parents, are you prepared for your children to rebel no matter how good you are as fathers?
Gerard: “For fatherhood, there is nothing that can prepare you for it. Something that was very interesting during the record and even the life cycle of the band, was noticing the slight rebellion from the audience. A lot of these fans had grown up with us, so I watched them rebel against the world at large, and even against us in some way, and that was the point. None of that ever bothered me, because it made sense for them to rebel against us. Let’s say your enemy is boredom, corporate rock and people who don’t want to challenge things – you run the risk of becoming the enemy that you’ve taught everyone else to fight against. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel a little bit of that at times, but I think that is healthy and normal and you shouldn’t read into that in a negative way. I think it’s a fact of life that you become the very thing [you’re fighting], no matter what. Money and fame and all the things that make you what you are, and even if you try your hardest to hate that, you’re still going to possess some of those abilities and you are going to become a little less relatable. I felt a lot of teenage rebellion post and during ‘The Black Parade’.”

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And you put a lot of that in the comic…
Shaun: “I think so. I’m worried about my kid growing up and not knowing what rock ‘n’ roll is. I’m in New Jersey and there is no rock [radio] station in New York anymore. Everything nowadays is so disposable, and it’s like listening to the same beat over and over again. I think a lot of that goes into this book. Teenage rebellion is a lot about diversity and another way of thinking, even what’s going on today in society. That’s what scares me.” 

Becky, what was it like when you saw how extensively the spider had been used?
Becky: “Mind-blowing. Being involved from such an early point, from seeing the videos get made and hearing the album, it’s definitely made the comic as it is now. It’s perfected my art. I have so much more to draw on now; the videos have influenced the comic, or lyrics have made it in to the final incarnation of the comic. There are so many fans who make their own Killjoys costumes, and I think ‘That’s a cool mask, I’ll take that idea.’ There are so many people collaborating in a weird way.”

Shaun, what were you doing between being in a band and now?
Shaun: “I settled down, got married, had kids and became a barber. I’d always wanted to break into comics, though.”
Gerard: “One of the things he was doing was discovering comics – and I love the fact he discovered them late in life. There’s strength to that. He was only reading the good shit in a really dedicated way. I remember going over to his house after he had got married and his shelf was lined with the best books. He was passionate about it, his views were abstract and I felt like I really wanted to be a part of this next wave that he was a part of. Becky was the same type of artist. She’s in the small, awesome category where she is in a class of herself.”

For the second part of this conversation come back to the Rock Sound website next Wednesday, July 31. To read more about The True Lives Of  The Fabulous Killjoys head to darkhorse.com.

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#MCRmyForLife: 20 ways to celebrate International My Chemical Romance Day

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July 23 is the fan-proclaimed International My Chemical Romance Day (better known as IMCRD), and though MCR announced their breakup in late March, the MCRmy is still holding strong to this holiday celebrated on the release anniversary of MCR’s first album, I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your Love.

“The most common question I’ve been getting since the break up was whether IMCRD would go on at all,” says Devan Mickell, a long-time fan who is manning the @IMCRD Twitter account which helps direct fans on the big day, this year.

“I was actually really surprised by how many people thought that MCR’s break up would jeopardize IMCRD. Yes, it’s about celebrating our love and appreciation for a band, but it’s also  about the experiences we’ve shared, the friends we’ve made the family we’ve gained, and how we’ve all grown and changed over the years with one another. To me, IMCRD is far more about the MCRmy than anything else”

For many of fans of the band, it was tough finding ways to connect with other members of the fanbase, especially in the early days when beyond spotting other kids in MCR shirts, going to shows and lurking the now defunct WBR Street Network message boards, there was no way to really connect.

The advances in technology since then opened very simple ways to find other fans and to stay in touch, both online and in real life. IMCRD celebrates the beauty of that, of fan unity and of a strong community built around mutual passion for the band.

Throughout the years, this grassroots holiday has spawned large-scale fan meetups, charity fund-raisers, effortless Twitter trending and many creative endeavors from the fan community.
 

20 Ways to celebrate IMCRD 2013

1. Attend A Meetup 
Head to the “Gangs” section of the MCRmy (which will continue to remain active) or to your local fan page to see if local fans are planning to meet.

2. Create Something (Anything!)
Any Killjoy worth his or her weight in spraypaint and Zone dust knows that “art is the weapon.” Likewise, anyone who follows Gerard Way on Twitter knows that “#ArtIsSmart.” So pick up your weapon of choice today and make something.

#SingItForJapan | Alternative Press

3. Donate to charity

My Chem were always great proponents of giving back. From their work with the Make-A-Wish foundation anShirts For A Cure, to Frank Iero’s custom Macbeth “Fuck Cancer” shoes and the #SingItForJapan fund for tsunami relief spearheaded bRay Toro, the band always gave back and would surely love to see fans honoring their message by doing the same.

4. Listen to MCR in a new light
A couple months ago, Gerard Way took to Twitter to have listening parties for each of the band’s album’s offering his perspective and behind-the-scenes facts. Listening to the albums while perusing his Twitter commentary is one way to enrich your listening experience.

5. Get an MCR tattoo
This is something that has been on my personal to-do list since I was 14. Why wait? Tomorrow doesn’t exist.

6. Spam your Twitter followers
This year’s official IMCRD hashtag is #MCRmyForLife. Use it to celebrate the band’s career and tell others why you’re in it for life.

Death Spells | Alternative Press7. Celebrate the new work of the MCR members
All four MCR members have announced that they are embarking on new endeavors, some of which you can already hear online. Check out Ray Toro’s solo song “Isn’t That Something?,” Where Are My Fucking Pills?” by Death Spells (Frank Iero and James Dewees) and Gerard Way’s “Zero Zero.”

8. Bask in nostalgia
If you’re like me, you have overflowing archives of endless MCR information. Here’s a quick directory of AP issues on which MCR have been on the cover or have been featured prominently:

May 2003 (AP 178)
February 2004 (AP 187)
August 2004 (AP 193)
December 2004 (AP 197) – COVER
January 2006 (AP 210) – COVER
December 2006 (AP 221) – COVER
July 2008 (AP 240)
January 2010 (AP 258) – COVER
March 2011 (AP 272) – COVER
November 2012 (AP 292) – Gerard Way and deadmau5
June 2013 (AP 299) – Death Spells
July 2013 (AP 300) – Gerard Way’s reimagining of their first COVER

9. Pick up an instrument

Both Mikey Way and Frank Iero have signature instruments—the Mikey Way Fender Squier Mustang bass and the Epiphone Wilshire Phant-o-matic, respectively. Pick up a guitar today and start practicing and saving up for one.

10. Write a letter to Gerard Way
Shortly after MCR broke up, Gerard Way published an address and asked fans to write to him or send him anything that could fit in an envelope. When we spoke to the singer a month later, he told us it was tough, and he was surprised by the response, but he’s still going to try to get through all the letters he receives. Send yours to:

Warner Bros Records
c/o Gerard Way
3300 Warner Blvd
Burbank, CA 91505

Just don’t send any packages. And “don’t make it weird.”

11. Go on a scavenger hunt to find a new copy of Bullets on CD for a reasonable price

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Seriously. We’re not sure what it is—Eyeball Records going out of business, opportunists scalping because of the breakup, or what—but for whatever reason, finding a copy of I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your Love on CD online is quite the task these days.

12. Catch up on issues one and two of The True Lives Of The Fabulous Killjoys
The comic series (which began as a comic series that informed the album, then became informed by the album) follows the life of “The Girl” depicted in the band’s Danger Days videos several years later. For bonus fun: Go on a hunt with some fellow MCR fans for the issues’ alternate covers! (Current issues and preorders available.)Killjoys issue one | Alternative Press

13. Watch Life On The Murder Scene
You’ve probably seen it a million times, and you’re probably going to cry, but it never hurts. Plus sitting on your couch watching a DVD is “easy-peasy pumpkin-peasy. Pumpkin pie, motherfucker!” While you’re at it, you might as well whip out The Black Parade Is Dead! and ¡Venganza!

14. Dress up

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Be fearless. Go to work in full Killjoys garb! Well, depending on your job or school, that is. If you can’t go to that extreme, or if you don’t want to go with the full on unholy living dead look, wearing a T-shirt, badge or subtle writing on your arm to show your support works just fine.

15. Listen to this two-hour 2005 Loveline interview
Yes, the sex advice show. NSFW.

16. Help out a fellow fan
Whether you’re an older fan who wants to welcome a younger one to the MCRmy or if you simply notice someone who wants or needs help, extend a helping hand and feel better for having done something nice.

17. Read Frank Iero’s writing
You can find the former MCR guitarist’s fiction-writing, poetry, rants, reviews, meme-generation and photography at frank-iero.com.

18. Celebrate with cupcakes

19. Revisit the “Helena” and “Sweet Revenge” flash games from the old website.

20. Heed this advice from Frank Iero:
“Your Imagination is the Ammunition.
Stay Dirty, and Stay Dangerous.
Create and Destroy as you see fit.
Embrace your Originality.
The Aftermath is Secondary.
You can and should do Anything.”

Now, GET UP AND GO! 

How will you celebrate today? Reply with your plans and share on Twitter using the #MCRmyForLife tag. You might see your photo here later!

Our fearless leader acknowledges our efforts:

kkk

Via

Preview: The True Lives Of The Fabulous Killjoys #2

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STORY BY: Gerard Way, Shaun Simon

ART BY: Becky Cloonan

COLORS BY: Dan Jackson

COVER BY: Gabriel Ba, Becky Cloonan

PUBLISHER: Dark Horse Comics

COVER PRICE: $3.99

RELEASE DATE: Wed, July 10th, 2013

 

“Our home was sent to the heavens and there ain’t nowhere to go!”

Delve into the life of Korse, one of Better Living Industries’ most productive and violent Scarecrows! See the trials and tribulations faced by Blue, an android down on her luck! Meanwhile, find out who—or what—survived the original Killjoys’ deadly confrontation in Battery City.

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Commentary Track: Way, Simon & Cloonan on “KILLJOYS” #1

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The band My Chemical Romance may have went their separate ways this year, but the colorful characters inhabited by the cutting edge punk quartet are living on in the form of “The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys” comic from Dark Horse spearheaded by singer Gerard Way.

In the works since the band’s 2010 album “Danger Days,” the series co-written by Way and Shaun Simon and drawn by Becky Cloonan expands the world of the rebel Killjoys characters who protected the life of a young girl fated to save a dystopian society in My Chemical Romance’s last set of videos. The comics story picks things up years later after the Killjoys have vanished and the evil Better Living Industries tracks the girl and her new Killjoys-inspired friends through a post-industrial desert wasteland.

With the first issue of the series finally on the stands, CBR News spoke to Way, Simon and Cloonan about their collaboration with a behind-the scenes commentary track on the big moments from #1. Below, the trio explain how ever good idea they had went into the comic, why the focus for the series and the band was on the fans of the Killjoys, what Grant Morrison brought to the table in playing Draculoid master Korse and more.

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CBR News: Guys, “Killjoys” #1 has been a long time in the coming. What’s it like in general to finally have the story out there and in front of people?

Gerard Way: It’s super crazy. It’s been so long!

Becky Cloonan: On the day of release, I was just inundated. I had to turn my phone off because it was just constantly vibrating. It’s gotten to the point where I can’t keep up with my Twitter feed because of all the replies. [Laughs] Every once in a while I look in on it, but it’s just crazy.

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The thing I found most striking about this story was that it was not only set after the story of the album, but it’s focus is on fans. Many of the characters here are obsessed with the original Killjoys and are building their own culture from that idea. Why make that specific focus?

Way: I guess it’s two things. This story has changes so much, but when Shaun and I decided to go the path we chose – and even from my standpoint doing the videos – this was always the girl’s story. I never felt it was the band’s story. I know that sounds kind of strange since the band is very relevant to what we’re doing, but even in terms of our band’s whole career, I always felt it was the fans’ story – their experience with My Chemical Romance.

And in the comic, the stuff with the Ultra V’s I think Shaun and I handled in a really cool, mature way. It was drawn from real life. Are they fans, or are they different? I think they’re more realistic. I think they’re people who at one point looked up to those guys and then kind of grew out of it. They said, “We can do it better” because the next generation is always trying to eat the old one.

The story opens with and is framed by this DJ telling that story. I know that’s the same way the album worked, though I keep thinking of movies where this happened – “The Warriors” or “American Graffitti.” But is there a specific inspiration that led to that framing device to drive the narrative?

Way: “Vanishing Point!” For me, that movie was the early one we looked at. The DJ in “Vanishing Point” is the unsung DJ of ’70s movies. [Laughs] When it was just a guy named Mike Milligan going on this odyssey with his radio talking to him – which was one of the original incarnations of this – we were very much paying attention to “Vanishing Point.”

Shaun Simon: I think that’s what started it, and then after the record, Gerard had built this whole world around the Killjoys. When it came time for the comic, Gerard called me up and said, “We ran out of money. We wanted to make the third video, but we don’t have the money. So do you want to make the idea for that video into a comic?” We started talking about ideas, and we had so many that it turned into this whole series.

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And it seems like the comic was born out of a lot of collaboration. Maybe this is just me, but I feel like Becky added the cat in. Or at least I want to see Becky draw cats forever now.

Cloonan: No, that was in the scripts. [Laughs] But going back to what you were saying about the fans and everything, this project has been going on for so long it’s like the comic was informing the music which was informing the videos which informed the comics. You get all these fans that are invested in this story and this world that it’s really been what I try to keep in my mind as I draw it. This is a world people already know about and have thought about. That makes me extra conscious to be as true to that as possible. I’ve got these spreads where I watched the videos and said, “Oh, that’s in the background. Let me put it in this background.” It’s something I’m constantly thinking about.

There was a template set by the videos for a lot of the scenery and costuming, but what were the elements that you guys found were the most unique to comics?

Simon: The Lobby and Battery City. That was a whole part of the story that just didn’t exist in the videos. It’s brand new to the comics, and even in the world that was there, we were expanding on that too. With The Nest and these other parts of the desert and these other characters, the whole world continues.

Cloonan: It’s like every timeline in this could shoot off into its own new comic. There’s so much world building. It’s so great and so lush.

Way: What was really fun for me, because I did so much of the design work for the videos, was that there were a lot of discussions happening over that time. Shaun, Becky and I would talk frequently, and what was really awesome was how all the stuff came together that wasn’t in the videos.

At one point, I was talking to Shaun, and I said, “It’d be really rad to shoot this extra footage of you as the fifth Killjoy.” And the stuff Shaun came up with for the Ultra V’s had a really distinct vision. I’d had a vision for this Kill team, and then to see Shaun’s vision of this young Kill team and Becky’s vision that she threw into the mix, it mean we all got to design them. It was really amazing. Especially with Cola, I felt like Shaun in a lot of ways would have been Cola [in the videos] if we’d had more money.

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Let’s talk a little bit about each of the main threads introduced in this issue, starting with the girl herself. The videos took place years before the comic, when the girl was still young, and the original Killjoys were convinced she was fated to save the world. What’s the attraction to centering this story on a “chosen one” arc?

Way: Shaun and I talked a lot about how in this story, we have all the trappings of dystopian science fiction. And I learned long ago that you can use these built-in scenarios so you can just pop things in the story and not spend a lot of time on that. People automatically look at it, and it’s a visual clue that this is a dystopian situation like “Logan’s Run” or stuff you maybe saw on TV growing up. Having that built in already, it allowed us to put more in under the surface. One thing I keep saying in interviews is that I hope people are going to be able to take a lot more from this than from a simple dystopian story. It’s really not just that. We’re able to subvert and try different things. There’s a very human story in here as opposed to a classic “Man Vs. Society” kind of thing.

Simon: One of the things we decided early on was that you open on page one, and by page two and three, you’re off already. We didn’t want to spend time explaining everything. No long exposition. We just wanted to get up and go. Like Gerard was saying, in these types of stories you automatically get it. We don’t have to explain how the world got here and why it’s like this. We just go. I always say that I like to figure things out as I go. I don’t want to be told everything at the beginning. I want things to be a little mysterious so I can take the journey along with these characters and find out things as they do.

Cloonan: And each character has their own journey. For the girl, for me, it’s very much her coming of age story. With some other characters, I can approach it as more of a romance. And with another, it’s about trying to find himself while keeping part of himself hidden. It’s about him coming to terms with it and being okay with himself. This all comes under the veil of this science fiction/dystopian future/Orwell scenario, but it’s grounded in these very human elements. I try to keep that in mind as I layout each page.

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One of the newest elements to the comic, like you guys were saying, is Battery City and the Lobby. And the key figure in that story seems to be Blue. She’s one of the few people in this world we’ve seen who’s been on the inside of all this, but so far we know so little about her. What’s her story all about as the book goes along?

Way: There’s a cool real life backstory to how Red and Blue both ended up in this story.

Simon: When we were working on “Killjoys,” I had this idea for a project called “Black Market Women” which was about these two sex workers who lived in the Lobby. As we started talking about the comic, we realized that what we were talking about for both was the same kind of stuff. It was a lot of extending the world and things we wanted to explore more. And this story really became about how Better Living Industries is affecting not just the lives of the people in the desert but also the lives of people in the city and people who work for the corporation. In issue #2, there will be another main character added to this story, and we’ll get to know his story too. It’s all about how the corporation is affecting these people in very similar ways.

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Was there one new thread in all of this that became more important or most important to each of you as the full extent of the world took shape in the comic?

Way: I feel this is a very unique book in that we became excited about all the arcs, but then as we got going more arcs became present. Like Phoenix Witch came into it and grew into something way more important than just a side character. At one point, Shaun had a breakthrough on what Phoenix Witch was. Some of the springboard stuff literally came from standing in the desert with your friends and going, “Hey, this is going to look really cool.” We’d shoot it in a really bad hotel room with a dead guy on the bed, and Korse is grabbing my face and yelling in it. We had no idea what was happening in that scene. It just looked like a cool shot. A lot of those images ended up informing real stories. Phoenix Witch was like that, but it was something we didn’t get to put in the videos because that was a really expensive costume to make.

Having said all that, all the arcs became thrilling to us. We’d discover something about Korse and have to do that. And other characters would find something important out about themselves, and we’d have to work it in.

Simon: I think what it comes down to is that we had so many ideas and characters, and the ones that really stuck out were the ones we cared about in the comic. That’s what we ended up including in there. For example, in the Free Comic Book Day story we had Vacation Adventure Society, which is something Gerard and I have been talking about for probably ten years now.

Way: Oh my God! [Laughs] That was totally insane.

Simon: I know, right? It was so cool that we finally got to do that, but it really could have been a whole story all on its own. We only did the ones that really meant something to us.

Way: Yeah, Vacation Adventure Society was an idea that Shaun and I had to start a band that was basically a DAT machine. Shaun was going to dress like a guy who worked a booth at the Jersey Shore way back in the day, and I was going to wear a gorilla suit. That was the thing! It was going to be like party electro punk.

Simon: Some of the earliest shots of it were just of a keytar on the Jersey Shore for the cover of the record. [Laughs]

Way: What I love about this comic is that for this whole world and all the creators, no one was stingy about any ideas we’d come up with in our entire lives. Even if it was an idea we loved that could only show itself in a Free Comic Book Day special or just half a panel, we’d just throw these ideas in there. It adds to the world.

Cloonan: I hate the idea of saving ideas anyway. It’s like saying, “I have to save this for later because it can only be good later.” If you’re thinking like that, you only save ideas. If you use the ideas now, you have to think of something better later.

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Lastly on the tour of the book are the Draculoids and Korse and all the villains from the video, and it seems so far like we’re going to get a lot more story on how these drones for the corporation came to be. You’ve said you had so much fun doing the designs of the Killjoys and the Ultra Vs who are so much their own people. Is there something fun about doing these characters who are forced to be more uniform?

Way: Yeah. That was actually, in a lot of ways, more fun because it was a really big challenge. And I didn’t even realize this until we were filming the second video, but Jimmy from the band Mindless Self Indulgence played the main Draculoid, and he came up going, “I just realized…me and the other guys kind of look like Stormtroopers from Star Wars, but we’re these really insane punk rock ’70s horror movie versions!”

And Becky also pointed out, because she was the first person who had to draw them, that they look like Sid Vicious. She said, “I’m drawing this crazy Sid Vicious vampire” and you had this other reference point too…

Cloonan: It was Michael Myers from “Halloween!” These are like if Michael Myers were running around in a vampire cape. [Laughter] That’s how I approached it.

Way: So they were really fun to make. You’re getting into this world and just having fun with it. Again, you can just make something that’s not super generic because you’re not riffing on World War II stuff for your villains. You can have so much fun with it. Sitting with Grant [Morrison] was insane. Grant really designed his own costume. I sat down with him and said, “Let’s talk about Korse” and he immediately said, “This is what I think abotu Korse. He’s a bit of a dandy.” And he’s got all these ideas for it.

Cloonan:I love that Grant Morrison just owns that jacket. [Laughs]

Way: He was like, “I really want a frilly cuff.”

Simon: One of the best panels Becky did in issue #1 was when Korse was holding the gun. It’s so him.

Way: We practiced that a lot. I remember standing in my house and handing Grant his gun, and he immediately held it up in front of his face and was just like, “This is how Korse would hold it.” [Laughter] It’s crazy how many memories are coming back now that the book is coming out.

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Looking forward, we’ve had so much of the ideas started up already, but there’s still a lot to do yet, and you left this on a literally explosive cliffhanger. What comes next?

Way: It’s a super dense story, and Shaun and I thought we were going to have to add an extra issue.

Simon: We already have the girl, we have Red and Blue, and in issue #2 we’re going to introduce our third main character. He’s in issue #1 some already. But it’s three main characters, and the thing about #1 is that if you really pay attention to it, when you get to the final issue you’ll see that there were some elements of it set up from the very beginning. Everything that happens here has a purpose and a reason, and everything’s going to be explained. Every thread will close, and you’ll have no questions left. The book goes up and down, but it’s moving the whole time.

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The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys #4 (Becky Cloonan cover)

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“Love. It makes people do dangerous things . . . It’s an emotion better suited for the uncivilized class.”

Wanted fugitives Blue and Red, porno droids that have disobeyed the strict rules of Battery City in the name of love, make a run toward freedom. Will they make it to the city line before BLI pulls their batteries? In the desert, the Girl makes a life-changing discovery and suffers the loss of a dear friend. The party’s over and it’s time to fight!

* From Gerard Way, creator of The Umbrella Academy!

CREATORS

Writer: Gerard Way, Shaun Simon
Artist: Becky Cloonan
Colorist: Dan Jackson
Cover Artist: Becky Cloonan

Killjoys launch with Gerard Way & Becky Cloonan @Beach Ball Comics

To celebrate the release of ‘The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys’, writer Gerard Way and artist Becky Cloonan visited Beach Ball Comics in Anaheim yesterday to meet fans. Despite a late start due to the crazy LA traffic, the crowd waited patiently and both Gerard and Becky ended up staying until well after midnight to make up for the delay and made sure everyone got their comics signed and pictures taken. We managed to get some shots at the signing table.

Click  at photos

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