Though best known as the lead singer of pop-punk band My Chemical Romance, Gerard Way is also a lifelong comic book aficionado who created and wrote the Eisner Award-winning Umbrella Academy series. Now a Netflix powerhouse, the franchise follows a group of superpowered siblings brought together by their father’s mysterious death.

Way’s love of comics goes way back: he got his first series published at the age of 15, and attended Manhattan’s School of Visual Arts with the intention of pursuing a career in the industry. As My Chemical Romance rose to fame, his passion for panelled art bled into the group’s aesthetics, lyrics and legacy. And vice versa: Way cites the band’s dysfunctional dynamics at their peak as the inspiration behind the familial discord at the Umbrella Academy‘s heart.

In celebration of the Netflix adaptation’s debut, Way compiled a list of his all-time favorite comic book collections for Louder Sound. From the ground-breaking work of Grant Morrison to the psychological depth of Alan Moore, find his recommendations below.

Gerard Way’s Reading List

Doom Patrol by Grant Morrison

Doom Patrol is the moment that Grant Morrison started breaking moulds. He took pre-existing characters that nobody really cared about, which gave him free reign to do what he wanted with them. He ended up making some very post-modern work – and it was very different from anything else because it didn’t feel like a superhero comic anymore. It was basically a superhero comic that didn’t feel like a superhero comic.” -GW

The Invisibles by Grant Morrison

“This one is a lot more abstract. It’s a very heavy read and it’s long – it went on for years. I would say it’s a combination of a fictional autobiography, a conspiracy theory and a spy-action comic. Grant went on a personal, psychological journey at a certain period in his life and he was basically trying to explain the journey in the comic. It’s also about control and it’s a very important work.“ -GW

Watchmen by Alan Moore

“This has to be on the list, it’s so full of breakthroughs. It’s another comic that, on the surface, looked like it was going to be a superhero comic but, in the way it’s told, it’s nothing like a superhero comic. There are so many things happening psychologically on each page that it’s the kind of book you read over and over again.” -GW

Akira by Katsuhiro Otomo

“This is the closest thing to an epic masterpiece that comics have ever had. There are six volumes and they’re all the size of phonebooks. Loosely, it’s about the atomic bomb being dropped on Japan, the fallout from it and its rebuilding. The art is gorgeous – not a single page is phoned in. The architecture he creates in the city alone is mind-boggling. It’s incredible that anyone could draw all that. To me, it is the masterpiece of comics.” -GW

Marshal Law by Pat Mills and Kevin O’Neill

“I have a whole shelf of Marshal Law at home. People like Frank Miller had already done the anti-hero thing with Batman, but Marshal Law was the ultimate anti-hero book. It took superheroes and called them out, almost saying they were bullshit. There are metaphors and parallels with the Vietnam War, it deconstructs Superman and turns him into a villain. Marshal Law is just one of the greatest of all time – if you’re getting into comics, this is one of the places to start.” -GW

Love and Rockets by Gilbert, Jaime and Mario Hernandez

“This is really a story about friends, but it’s also about punk music and science fiction too. It starts off as this very dense, slice-of-life, science fiction thing and it evolves as the characters become part of punk scenes and start to get into bands. It’s also a very strong book about women. There’s one character who starts off one way and then, part way through the series, she just gains weight. It deals with things like that and you see characters go through real changes. It’s written by three brothers, Gilbert, Jaime and Mario, and they have been doing it since 1981. It is one of the longest-running independent comics that I can think of.” -GW

Daytripper by Fábio Moon and Gabriel Bá

“It’s by two friends of mine, Fábio Moon and Gabriel Bá who are twins, and I worked with Gabriel on Umbrella Academy. Daytripper is the book they did for Vertigo and it basically won every award you can win. It’s about life, and it’s about the choices you make and how your life could have been very different. It’s about all the little moments that change everything. It’s absolutely beautiful.” -GW

Hellboy by Mike Mignola

“Mike Mignola is an absolute genius. Nobody draws like him, nobody tells a story like him, everything he does just has magic about it. In Hellboy, he plays around with folklore and the Cthulu Mythos but at the heart of it is a character who is just a normal guy stuck in the weird position that he just happens to be a demon.” -GW

Sandman by Neil Gaiman

“This absolutely has to be on the list. There has never been a comic like it. He was the first guy to look at a comic almost like prose. It’s so cerebral but it’s also gorgeous and fantastical. With Sandman, he basically turned comic books into real literature, which was a big turning point.” -GW

The Wicked + The Divine by Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie

“This is a newer book that I’m really into. It reminds me of Sandman in that it’s about this pantheon of gods. But the team that makes the book have been able to capture music in a way that comic books have never really managed. The same guys used to do this book called Phonogram in which the concept was that music is magic. They are still the only people I have ever read in a comic who have accurately portrayed what it feels like to be performing. They get that immortal, borderline godlike feeling you get from being onstage.” -GW

(via Louder Sound)

Categories: Musicians Writers