From your beginnings in MCR to your comics work to your solo music to your soon to be Netflix show (Yay! Finally!) you have been an incredible role model (I know...) and an inspiration. I grew up on My Chemical Romance and it is, has been, and probably always will be my absolute favorite music. Unfortunately, I was never able to see any shows in person, but in my tragic youth and through my dismal outlook I certainly found solace in your lyrics. In particular, realizing that "the aftermath is secondary" really helped me reconcile the fallout from running away from an abusive home, and living "for the ghosts that are never gonna' catch me" gave me the confidence to keep fighting for the life I wanted.
About five years before all that, I received a copy of the new, unusual, stunning graphic novel The Umbrella Academy: Apocalypse and absolutely fell in love. I couldn't tell you how many times that I read that old copy, and now as a bookseller I can't tell you how many times I have recommended it. Here's a part of the recommendation I wrote for our staff picks book talk last year and for our display for last year's comicon:
The Umbrella Academy by Gerard Way and Gabriel Ba is my all-time favorite graphic novel series - in part because it is written by one of my favorite human beings and man of my dreams, part because any artwork by Ba is gorgeous, and part because the plot itself is so bizarre and fun - and it is in production as a Netflix original projected for 2018. There are two different graphic novels: Apocalypse Suite, and Dallas. Apocalypse Suite most recently was republished (originally released in 2007) as the first in Dark Horse Number Ones for 2017. I highly, highly, highly recommend.
My uncle – Sean Tiffany, creator of the Oil Can Drive comic series – gave this comic to me for Christmas when it was first released knowing that I would fall in love, and lo and behold, I recommend it to any and every one. It is a delicious blend of dark action adventure and artistic gothic illustration that takes on the oddball Umbrella Academy children as a group of heroes comparable to the mystery men, watchmen, and suicide squad: angsty, outlying, and atypically gifted.
I had some interest in superheroes and comic books as a little kid, but The Umbrella Academy really reignited that love for me. Batman comics in particular are a cornerstone in my personality. The Umbrella Academy eventually fed into a rekindling of my writing in high school as well, along with other fantastic titles like Ba and Moon's Daytripper and Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby. The Umbrella Academy made me feel at home as an outlier, a killjoy stranded alone in a world that I didn't want to be a part of. Every time I read it, it reminded me that there are other's out there just as bizarre as me, and at the same time said that it's okay to not fit in with any crowd, even family.
The resolve of the Umbrella Academy members gave me strength and inspiration. Nowadays, after a lot of dreaming and hard work, I am a manager at Colorado's famed Tattered Cover Book Store, eeking along through a creative writing degree at University of Colorado Denver, and am writing and writing and writing while jamming out to some Danger Days and Three Cheers and everything in-between.
Those who know me well know that I joke about you being my imaginary boyfriend or an obsession, and make fun of me for being a fangirl (If you knew me, you'd know that I am the polar opposite of that "oh my god, Gerard! I love you so much! I can't believe you're real!" Kind of fangirl, FYI.) But on a real (and admittedly unintentionally weird) note, I do love you. I love your artwork, your music, your writing. I love that you were able to chase after your dreams and become an incredible artist that gives hope to the rest of us muddling through the filth. I love that you've inspired myself and so many others out there to own their flaws and to be ruthless when it comes to becoming who you want to be. Hence, the love letter.
I missed out on a lot growing up, and a lot of potential role models skipped out on me, but your art, stories, and music really helped me to find my way. I couldn't be more grateful for an author and artist. I wish you the best as you keep marching forwards, and am happy knowing that no matter what you choose to do, you're saving one life at a time.