Dark Horse Editor Scott Allie Talks About Working with Gerard Way
While Gerard Way and Gabriel Ba are responsible for bringing us the story and artwork in their hit series The Umbrella Academy, the comic might have never been. After all, day after day comics are written, pitched and rejected by major publishers. And while Gerard’s celebrity status may have helped, let’s face it, his name wouldn’t mean much to someone who didn’t know who the hell My Chemical Romance was.
Like Dark Horse editor Scott Allie. In a guest blog for MTV.com’s Splash Page, Allie confesses he’d never heard of Gerard Way or My Chemical Romance before Gerard pitched The Umbrella Academy to Dark Horse Comics. What won Allie over wasn’t Gerard’s name or band, but the story itself. “I’d never wanted to edit superhero comics—except that this was the superhero comic I hadn’t known I’d wanted to edit. This was a surrealistic superhero epic with heartbreak, Grant Morrison with a soft spot.”
Allie, who has also worked with Joss Whedon in creating the Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel comics, talks about the struggles of launching a new title with never before heard of characters. “Getting a new book up and running is hard these days, to be perfectly frank. The economics of comics, like everything else, is harsh, and many start only to fail. It may sound cowardly, but I don’t like to start it unless I feel like I know how to make it work.” But luckily for them, when it came to comic sales, the demographic that most companies are aiming for was EXACTLY the demographic that My Chemical Romance largely appeals to: teenage girls. Comic companies are chomping at the bit to figure out how to get those girls out of buying manga (which they can pick up at the bookstore) and into comic shops, with hope that buying one title will expose them to other titles as well.
And in many ways, it worked. Even Gerard Way has mentioned in interviews how many young female fans have told him The Umbrella Academy is the first comic they’ve ever read. And although there’s no telling how many of those girls have become interested in other titles because of TUA, it’s safe to assume that comics shops across the country are seeing these new customers at least once a month.
The demographic is not responsible for all of the comic’s success, as Allie is quick to note. “But I’m very clear, and Gerard is clear, that that other career of his allowed us to tell the story we wanted to tell. But MCR wasn’t why mainstream comics fans got behind the book, and it wasn’t why we won the awards we did.” Though, even he mentions “Although, yeah, My Chemical Romance probably is responsible for all those teenaged girls heading into comics shops for the first time.”
How many of you headed out to the comic shop for the first time to buy The Umbrella Academy? Have you started reading anything else because of it? And established comic fans, any suggestions for Umbrella Academy fans? I, honestly, figure you can never go wrong with Neil Gaiman’s Sandman.