The Dark Horse panel at Comic-Con International featured the announcement of a second comic book series for My Chemical Romance singer Gerard Way, who has already made a name for himself in comics with the Eisner Award-winning “Umbrella Academy.” Way’s new series, co-written by Shaun Simon and illustrated by Becky Cloonan, will be called “Killjoys” and debut sometime in 2010. Beyond that, details are scarce, but CBR did get some interesting info from Way in the second part of our Comic-Con interview.
“One of the cool things about ‘Umbrella Academy’ was it kind of got a fair shot as soon as it came out in that, nobody knew what to expect,” Way said. “I kind of like that, I don’t want to give everything away about ‘Killjoys,’ I want to give it a fair shot.”
“What I would like to say is that it’s a complete and total departure from anything I’ve done in ‘Umbrella Academy.’ It’s almost like a strange kind of love letter to the really great comics of the ’90s that kind of pushed things,” the writer continued. “If ‘Umbrella Academy’ is me taking a look at, among many other things, ‘Doom Patrol,’ ‘Killjoys’ is me, with my co-writer Shaun Simon, taking a look at when the best stuff was going on in the ’90s, things like ‘Invisibles’ and stuff like that. It’s a mature readers title, which is another first. We specifically wanted ‘Umbrella Academy’ to be an all ages title. This thing is going to deal with much more mature and controversial themes, such as hate crimes and homophobia, the homogenization of American culture and American life. ‘Umbrella Academy’ is set in its own world, with its own rules; ‘Killjoys’ is set in modern America. I find that sometimes you can say a lot when you’re dealing in our times, with what people can relate with right now. It starts off at the end of the ’90s and picks up today. I would say it’s more violent, heavily, and deals with much stronger themes.”
When many fans discuss ’90s comics, the first thing that comes to mind are big shoulder pads, gritted teeth, and gigantic, skewed anatomy. But Way would like to remind readers that there were also some enduring, well-loved projects coming out throughout the decade. He cited the work of Peter Milligan as well as Neil Gaiman’s seminal “Sandman” and Michael Allred’s “Madman.” “When ’90s comics get a lot of flack, it’s usually the ones that have the hologram covers. Everybody knows this, but to me what happened in the ’90s and why comics suffered for a long time and it made it really difficult for anybody to get a job, was that you had a greater part of America finally taking an interest in comics again, but they were taking interest in it for the wrong reasons, for resale value,” Way said. “So you have these awful, awful comics out there. I knew these guys who had boxes and boxes of the worst shit, polybagged with some kind of fucking sticker, and they were the most horrible comics you’ve ever read. That’s what gets the flack, and I think deservedly so, but I think amidst all that was things like [Grant Morrison’s] ‘Invisibles,’ and basically that whole stable at Vertigo in the ’90s. Anything Garth Ennis was doing. Every single issue of ‘Preacher’ was phenomenal. He’s a big influence, too, and he doesn’t come up as much because I have a personal relationship with Grant. Garth Ennis not only influenced me with my comics, but with my music writing and lyric writing. Especially on [MCR album] ‘Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge,’ I was reading a lot of ‘Preacher’ and Ennis at the time. And obviously Gaiman, too. All those Vertigo guys in the ’90s, I thought that was the best stuff.”
Joining Way for “Killjoys” is Becky Cloonan, who is a member of Gabriel Ba’s studio, along with Ba’s twin brother Fabio Moon and Vasilis Lolos. Way said that he gets along well personally and artistically with this group, who he believes are the ones doing “very exciting things in comics right now.”
Way continues, “That’s not to say there aren’t other people doing very exciting things, but I think a lot of those people have chosen to go along the path of drawing mainstream superhero books. Which is totally great for them. But one of the things I find fascinating about guys like Gabriel and Fabio, to Vasilis and Becky, is that, given the opportunity to draw any of those mainstream characters, it would look extremely different,” the writer said. “I don’t know when a larger comic audience will be ready for that kind of thing, but I kind of don’t care to wait around for that. I think, personally, the X-Men should look like a weird European comic. Until people kind of come around to seeing it that way, it’s not going to happen. I’d love to see a Wolverine book drawn by Vasilis. I’d love to see the Avengers drawn by Becky. But there’s a specific thing going on. It’s fine for mainstream comics, but what excites me is this very specific group of artists who are inspired by, not the bad infusion of manga in American comics, but almost as if an American was in Japan drawing manga. Really getting the spirit of Japanese comics as opposed to just drawing it like a manga book in order to sell more comics. Or people like Fabio and Gabriel who lean toward this very European sense of comics storytelling. That’s really what appeals to me. I’d really rather see that, I’d really rather work with people who are doing that. That’s what jazzed me up in art school, and it’s one of the reasons that, coming out of art school, it was very difficult for me to get work, in that regard. I saw things always like some strange kind of European comic.”
“Killjoys” will debut in 2010.