DC Comics recently launched Young Animal, the imprint led by Gerard Way, My Chemical Romance frontman and creator of The Umbrella Academy. At New York Comic Con on Friday, Gerard Way, Nick Derington, Jody Houser and Marley Zarcone to talk bout their Young Animal books. Doom Patrol editor Jamie S. Rich moderated the panel.
How did Young Animal come about? Gerard explained, “After the success of Umbrella Academy, I pitched a Batman to story to DC.” The story involved The Doom Patrol, but unfortunately didn’t go anywhere. Until Jim Lee, Dan Didio and Gerard Way were at a convention together in South America. Gerard said, “Jim Lee suggested an imprint. It immediately got my gears going. We’d start with Doom Patrol and immediately surround it with a small family of books.”
Gerard said that he finds DC’s characters to be the most cerebrally appealing. “When I first got into comics, I was reading X-Men. But I was getting something else out of The Dark Knight Returns.”
Gerard said he hopes “people get the same experience out of Young Animal what I got out of when I was reading early Vertigo comics before they were Vertigo. That era of comics made me realize there was a much larger world out there and that people were different.”
Doom Patrol #2 comes out this Wednesday. Artist Nick Derington wanted the issue’s cover, which focuses on Negative Man, to be black on the top and white on the bottom, with Negative List in the middle.
Doom Patrol artist Nick Derrington and Gerard text each other notes during the day. Gerard keeps a notebook with story ideas, “and sometimes there are angry letters to myself in there, and I skip over that, but sometimes there’s something in those angry letter that I can use.”
Issue #3 of Doom Patrol will introduce a character named Fug. Gerard Way is very excited to have created a character named Fug. “Apparently there has never been a character named Fug.” Gerard said, with a hint of surprise in his voice.
Mike Allred will be doing the art on an upcoming fill in issue of Doom Patrol. Gerard said he was a big fan of Mike Allred’s Teen Titans story from Solo, and that he wants to channel the fun from that story in this fill in issue.
Jody Houser, the writer of Mother Panic, cited a Mark Waid quote when talking about writing new characters. “If you’re writing a new character, figure out what you love about them and write about that.”
Gerard said that all these books deal with weirdness, and how the characters deal with weirdness shapes them as characters. “In Doom Patrol, the weirdness seems to pass Casey by,” but at some point in the future, we’ll find out the reason behind that.
Regarding the variant covers for Shade: The Changing Girl, Marley Zarcone was asked, “What’s it like seeing other artists do characters you designed?” She was very enthusiastic. “It’s awesome. I love it.” Gerard’s favorite thing about Shade is the madness handbag that Marley designed for the character. Don’t be surprised if we get Shade: The Changing Girl handbags from DC at some point.
Gerard is co-writing Cave Carson Has a Cybernetic Eye with Jon Rivera. The two met at a comedy writing course. They have worked together a number of times overthe years when Gerard would pitch TV shows or cartoons. “Cave is pretty unhinged. It’s a very psychedelic book. We’ve had a lot of years of brutality. I think it’s time to get weird and explore our brains,” Gerard commented. Further explaining Cave Carson, Gerard said, “We decided to create our own genre with this book. We call it the Sad Dad genre. ‘Cave once was famous, but now he’s just a sad dad.'”
Jody Houser described Mother Panic‘s main character Violet as “the celebutant known for making trouble, like punching a paparazzi. She’s on a revenge quest at the start. She has a revenge list and is ready to go down that list one by one and make them pay.” Gerard said he always liked the name Mother Panic. He said that he always thought if he ever did a creator owned book, he’s do a more extreme version of Bruce Wayne, “Bruce Wayne with a sex tape,” he described it. He credited series artist Tommy Lee Edwards with coming up with Mother Panic’s look. Jody fleshed out Mother Panic’s background, and what really happened to her father. Jodie went into Violet’s background for the audience. “Her father died mysteriously 15 years ago. The paparazzi that follow her around still ask about it, because no one knows the reason why he died, 15 years later. She’s not an orphan, unlike almost every other hero in Gotham. Her relationship with her mother is very important.” Tommy Lee Edwards is both drawing and coloring the book. Jodie liked the inked pages so much that she questioned if the book even needed color. But then when the colors came in, she was even more impressed.
Gerard announced a special surprised towards the end of the panel. On the way out, everyone at the panel would be given a cassette tape with a new, exclusive Gerard Way song on it. The music on the tape “is very connected to the Young Animal books. The A side is the title track to a documentary on Cave Carson’s life from the 70s. I won’t promise much, but I expect we’re going to release more Young Animal songs.” Be sure to attend future Young Animal panels if you’d like your own cassingle.
Billy Henehan writes for The Beat. In his free time, he likes to hunt down foreign language reprints of Todd McFarlane Spider-Man comics.