EXCLUSIVE: ON THE SET
It was a gray Sunday morning in Los Angeles — almost Scottish with its gloom factor, in fact — when I headed to downtown to watch My Chemical Romance film a music video for “Sing,” a single off of its new album, “Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys.” The album and tie-in videos are based on a dystopian vision of the future that was hatched in the mind of lead singer Gerard Way, who is also well-known to comics fans for his work on the award-winning Dark Horse series The Umbrella Academy. As I watched from a corner, Way and his band mates — portraying an armed band of mysterious misfits called the Killjoys — staged a nasty gun battle with the minions of a sinister-looking fellow with a shaved head and ruffled shirt. When the bad guy saw me, he called out, “You again, it’s nice to see you.” It was Grant Morrison, one of the most celebrated names in all of contemporary comics. Morrison is a close friend to Way and, more than that, a trusted advisor on the rock star’s unexpected creative path. He’s now also the man who shoots Way in the head for the sake of music fantasy. “Working with Grant is like working with the king of gonzo art,” MCR guitarist and backup vocalist Frank Iero told me. A week or two later, Morrison and I caught up via e-mail to chat about the video shoot and his good pal, rock star Way.
GB: What can you tell me about your character in the video?
GM: Korse is an exterminator for the S/C/A/R/E/C/R/O/W unit of Better Living Industries. His extensive back story has yet to be revealed but he’s intimately connected with the Killjoys and their secret history. He’s a remorseless human bloodhound, a hunter who dresses like an undead, post-apocalyptic Doc Holliday.
GB: Months ago, Gerard showed me his collection of images and sketches that create this futuristic world and create an entire backdrop for the new album, “Danger Days,” and he it made it sound as if those ideas and visions were the key creative leap toward the recording sessions that followed. To me, that sounds as if Gerard approaches his music with an art director mentality — that’s interesting, isn’t it?
GM: Definitely, Gerard has an art-school background and still draws and designs costumes for the band so I’m sure that has a big influence on the way he naturally brings these very detailed visual and narrative dimensions to the music.
GB: There are so many celebrity tourists in comics now, but Gerard isn’t one of them. Can you talk a bit about his writing for Umbrella Academy and what you enjoy in it?
GM: Gerard is the real deal and certainly not a tourist in comics. He was an intern back at Vertigo when I was doing The Invisibles. He loves comics books, so he was obviously comfortable with the language and the storytelling rhythms. What I love most about Umbrella Academy is its humor and the mad, surrealist edge, which wasn’t exactly what I expected from him after hearing “The Black Parade” record. It’s a very accomplished and distinctive comic with great art by Gabriel Ba — and the second volume is even sharper than the first.
GB: Watching you gun down your famous friend, it looked to me like you connected with your inner villain pretty easily. Should we, uh, be alarmed?
GM: You should be quaking in your beds, I’m afraid, but it’s already too late! Evil is the new black, apparently.
— Geoff Boucher
RECENT AND RELATED