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Sunday, 10 April 2016

My Greatest Influence

There's been a big announcement: Gerard Way - writer of The Umbrella Academy and former frontman of My Chemical Romance - is getting his own line of comics at DC. The imprint, called Young Animal, will initially have four titles - all written and/or overseen by Way - Shade the Changing Girl, Mother Panic, Cave Carson has a Cybernetic Eye (you can find out more about them here); and the one I'm most excited for - a relaunched Doom Patrol.

I was introduced to the Doom Patrol with the launch of DC's Vertigo line when Rachel Pollack took over as writer; her first arc transitioning from Grant Morrison's run, with Richard Case continuing to illustrate, before the title became more Pollack's own style. There was plenty to like in Pollack's Doom Patrol, and it also turned me on to Morrison's - which became one of my favorite ever comic runs and, as it seems to be with Gerard Way, the biggest influence on my comics work.

Under writer Paul Kupperberg, the DP had become more like a Teen Titans/X-Men-type book than its original vision and gotten a lot less weird.

Grant Morrison came on board and re-imagined it - keeping the most recognizable of the Patrol, the world-weary robot-with-a-human-brain Cliff Steele; sidelining and de-superheroing Josh Clay, making him basically Niles Caulder(the Chief of the team)'s assistant; weirding up teen heroine Rhea Jones a.k.a. Lodestone - she came out of a coma faceless, running around naked (her modesty protected by her long, straggly red hair - overgrown due to the coma) - with a big eye below her head. He also took another DP stalwart, Larry Trainor a.k.a. Negative Man and merged him with doctor Eleanor Poole to form enigmatic hermaphrodite hero/ine Rebis, introduced Crazy Jane (a schizophrenic with multiple personalities - each with their own super power), and Dorothy Spinner, a simian-like young girl who could bring her imaginary friends to life.

This crew, and the bizarre threats they faced, captured my imagination like nothing else ever has, and its bizarreness has influenced some of my work - notably in The Almighties villain, masked eccentric pseudo-Nazi White Out - who will be returning in my Cabra Cini: Voodoo Junkie Hitwoman mini-series late this year.

Cabra wouldn't exist without Pollack, Case & Morrisons' Doom Patrols, either, and I even homage/recreate panels from Pollack & Case's first issue in her mini-series, in pages illustrated by R.D. Ricci.

Doom Patrol #64
(right-click on images and 'open in new tab' to enlarge)

Cabra Cini: Voodoo Junkie Hitwoman #2

Another of my creations who wouldn't exist without the inspiration of the DP is villain Mr. Mash-Up, who can tap into people's minds and transform the vessel he houses into clones of whomever they most fear/hate - before transferring his consciousness into the clone and releasing it, shedding his skin, to reign torture on their lives.

Mr. Mash-Up has made a number of appearances - in IF-X, Pandemonium Spotlight, Geek-Girl #0, the free Cabra Cini digital comic Dark New Year - and will be returning in the Geek-Girl mini-series, also slated for release late this year.

But back to Gerard Way's Doom Patrol. This appears to be an incarnation evolved from a mooted DP pitch Way made with artist Becky Cloonan that he was at the time unable to follow through with due to how busy he was with My Chemical Romance. But with the band now retired, Way has teamed with artist Nick Derington to bring the book to life!

Gerard Way & Nick Derington

The blurb from DC reads, "This September, in the spirit of Grant Morrison's legendary run on the series, along with other classic incarnations of the characters, writer Gerard Way and artist Nick Derington will put their unique stamp on the world's strangest heroes taking on the universe's strangest villains." Judging by his Twitter feed, Way is very excited to bring us this book, and it's something I can't wait for!

For updates on it, a good place to go is - and I don't imagine this will be the last I'll be posting about Way & Derington's Doom Patrol here... ;)

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