Gerard Way was born April 9, 1977 in Summit, New Jersey to Donna
Lee (née Rush) and Donald Way. He has Italian ancestry on his
mother's side and Scottish ancestry on his father's. He was raised in
Belleville, New Jersey and first began singing publicly in the fourth
grade, when he played the role of Peter Pan in a school musical
production. His maternal grandmother, Elena Lee Rush, was a great
creative influence who taught him to sing, paint, and perform from a
young age; he has said that "she has taught me everything I know".
Also, while in elementary school, the glam metal band Bon Jovi was
instrumental in forming his love of music.
At the age of 15, Way was held at gunpoint, as he said in an April
2008 Rolling Stone interview: "I got held up with a .357 Magnum, had a
gun pointed to my head and put on the floor, execution-style." He went
on to say that "no matter how ugly the world gets or how stupid it
shows me it is, I always have faith." At age 16, Way appeared on an
episode of Sally Jesse Raphael which discussed the controversy
surrounding the publicizing of serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer's crimes
in comic books.
Way attended Belleville High School until he graduated in 1995.
Deciding to pursue a career in the comic-book industry, he attended
the School of Visual Arts in New York City, graduating with a Bachelor
of Fine Arts in 1999.
As teenagers Gerard and his brother Mikey Way, who later became the
bassist of My Chemical Romance, were influenced by the bands Iron
Maiden and The Misfits as well as British artists such as Pulp, Blur
and Morrissey and The Smiths. Way originally wanted to be a guitarist.
His grandmother bought him his first guitar at the age of eight and he
played in short-lived bands such as Ray Gun Jones and Nancy Drew with
future bandmate Ray Toro, but when he was not successful (one band
kicking him out due to his lack of skill with the guitar), he chose to
concentrate on his art career.
Way was working as an intern for Cartoon Network in New York City
during the September 11, 2001 attacks. Seeing the effects of the
attacks first-hand prompted Way to change his views on life in the
following weeks. He told Spin magazine, "I literally said to myself,
'Fuck art. I’ve gotta get out of the basement. I’ve gotta see the
world. I’ve gotta make a difference.'" To help deal with the
emotional effects the attacks had on him, Way wrote the lyrics to the
song "Skylines and Turnstiles", which has since been identified as the
first song by My Chemical Romance. Soon after, My Chemical Romance
began to assemble as a band.
Way has contributed vocally to bands such as Every Time I Die's 'Kill
The Music', Head Automatica's 'Graduation Day', Say Anything's "In
Defense Of The Genre", and The Oval Portrait's "From My Cold Dead
Hands" and "Barnabus Collins Has More Skeletons In His Closet Than
In many interviews Way has stated that music turned out to be an
effective outlet to deal with his longtime battles against depression,
alcoholism and prescription drug use. The use of music as a way to
resolve personal battles has caused Way to create deeply personal
songs such as "Helena," which was written in memory of his late
In 2008, Way and musical project Julien-K remixed a version of the
song Sleep When I'm Dead by The Cure for their EP 'Hypnagogic States'.
All profits gained from the sales of the EP go to funding the
International Red Cross.
In early 2009, Way and Japanese singer Kyosuke Himuro co-produced the
new theme song for Advent Children Complete, the Blu-Ray director's
cut of the movie sequel to the popular video game franchise,
Compilation of Final Fantasy VII. He is also credited with writing the
lyrics, and singing alongside Himuro. The song is entitled "Safe and
Sound" and was released on iTunes on April 29, 2009. "Safe and
Sound" is only heard on the Japanese release of the film; the English
release uses Himuro's "Calling" (the original ending theme for Advent
Children) in place of it. He also is contributing vocals for the vocal
mix of the deadmau5 song "Professional Griefers".
Gerard Way's first attempt at writing a comic was at the age of 16,
writing a short-lived comic series called 'On Raven's Wings', which
was cancelled after Issue 2 due to losing the art team; he was
credited as Garry Way.
In 2007, Way began writing the comic-book miniseries The Umbrella
Academy. Way wrote the story and illustrated the original version, but
cartoonist Gabriel Ba recreated all of Way's original drawings in the
final version. A few of Way's first drawings of the characters can be
seen in the last few pages of the first book in the series, "The
The Apocalypse Suite was first released by Dark Horse Comics in their
Free Comic Book Day issue on May 5, 2007. Since then, an
eight-page story has been published on MySpace, entitled "Safe &
Sound". The first official issue was released on September 19,
2007. The first issue to sell out and consequently there was a
second printing released on October 17, 2007. The next installment
was released on November 26, 2008.
He and fellow artists Shaun Simon and Becky Cloonan are currently in
the process of developing and creating a new comic-book series titled
"The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys", which Way announced at
Comic Con 2009. In 2011 My Chemical Romance confirmed the comic's
connection with their music, and they also stated that Mikey and
Gerard are working on another comic book project which they have kept
under wraps as of mid-2011.