And not only because they both share dark ancient hellfire eyes and a love of victorian era aesthetics...Gerard way is a damn fine writer. I mean, the guy wrote:
“There's a place in the dark where the animals go / You can take off your skin in the cannibal glow / Juliet loves the beat and the lust it commands / Drop the dagger and lather the blood on your hands, Romeo”.
Poe’s drunk corpse flew pointing out of his coffin when he heard those lyrics.
Now, I’m aware that My Chemical Romance was poppy, hardly punk, and overplayed, but in the words of Sir Poe, the pauper poet of of all things putrid and sepulchral,
“There are few cases in which mere popularity should be considered a proper test of merit; but the case of song-writing is, I think, one of the few. “
I pity the souls who weren’t fortunate enough to be filled with adolescent rage and despair during the days when “I’m Not Okay” and “Welcome to the Black Parade” would come on the radio. How do you even describe the feeling that comes over a person when that single piano note rings out over the hissing car speaker? It’s a feeling that remained unparalleled in me until the eventual release of another great piece of gothic art, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (that "Runaway" intro….the video with the ballerinas…the cover art…but, I’ll save it for another article.)
I remember finding out that Gerard Way designed the Welcome to The Black Parade album art (along with James Jean; check out his IG @jamesjeanart for some eye candy). I was obsessed with the style. I would
practice drawing that little skull on every scrap of paper I had. Then I heard he wrote a graphic novel. Not only that, that eyelined emo prince had drawn the damn covers himself! I bought them immediately. The Umbrella Academy. what a perfect series. It was dark, It was funny. It was smart. And it was campy as hell. Gerard Way wrote this thing with the same level of self hatred for his own gothic tendencies that invaded every single MCR song. He wrote so much anger, sadness, and humor into every page. The series covered massive concepts I barely understood like death and the afterlife and time travel, all with the sarcastic dry humor of a British sitcom. I loved it. I’ve held on to my Umbrella academy books longer than I've held on to most friendships. When I heard that Netflix was going to adapt The Umbrella Academy into a series, I was a strange combination of ecstatic and furious.
“They better work damn close with Gerard Way on this” I thought as I smoldered in my rage. They made him an executive producer.
“They better listen to him and make sure he’s happy with every single decision they make.” I cried aloud to myself as I wagged my finger in the air in the general direction of the large onyx fowl I assumed was stalking my window. They let him into every department from wardrobe to set design. They would’ve let him sleep on the studio floor if he wanted to. The show was a mad success. Even among die hard fans of the source material like myself. Sure, some plot points were changed. Sure, some characters were completely written out and others in. It was all okay. This was Umbrella Academy. The tone was perfect. They nailed it. And how could they not? They had the original mind behind the project working so closely with a great team to interpret his vision and story. Studios take note. we’ve seen it with shows like Rick and Morty, Adventure Time, and Breaking Bad. Let the creators create and you’ll have success. Give talented artists the tools and support they need and then get out of the way. At the worst, they’ll piss off their own fanbase and be shamed into relinquishing control, as is their artistic right! (looking at you George Lucas.)
The Umbrella Academy is one of best comic book adaptations of all time, because Netflix allowed Gerard Way to help raise his weird mutated circus freak baby himself. Now am I biased because of the way a piano note made me feel in 10th grade? Do I love this series because I was overcome by the wave of teenage angst that was My Chemical Romance and left within it a piece of my soul, like an abandoned sea shell to this day? Perhaps.
But in the words of the master of macabre himself:
“And so being young and dipped in folly I fell in love with melancholy.”