The 'Umbrella Academy' Comics Have A "Weird" Spirit The Netflix Show Kept Intact, According To Gerard Way
The Umbrella Academy is the latest superhero story to hit streaming services, and its story is intriguing to say the least. Based on comics written by Gerard Way — yes, the former My Chemical Romance frontman — the series tells the story of superpowered siblings who are raised to help save the world before becoming estranged as adults. From the looks of it, The Umbrella Academy comics are similar to the show in many ways, and Way is working super closely with the production team.
Way told Collider that he's excited for the TV adaptation because it takes the foundation he laid with the comics and allows it to grow into something bigger. "I think what we wanted to get accomplished in the move [to TV] was really to see these characters expanding and their story told in longer form, so you get more out of it and get to spend more time with the character," he said.
Way collaborates on the comic books with illustrator Gabriel Bá, and they both serve as executive producers on the Netflix adaptation, so the true essence of the comics is likely to come through from their influence.
There are big, overarching ideas and themes throughout his comics that Way says the show skillfully adapted. "My favorite things about the show — there's a few of them. They kept the weird ideas," he continued to Collider. "There's kind of some heavy concepts to get around. The show really stays true to that, and that's one of the things I like the most."
Bá agreed that the TV version rings true to the spirit of the comics, and said he's excited to reach people who wouldn't necessarily have read the series otherwise. "They kept the essence of the characters, they grabbed that really well," he said in the same interview. "They have fresh ideas for everyone and the story, which are great and fit in, and add up to this whole, if you can call it, mythology."
Way has always been very close to the comic book world — according to the Guardian, he worked in a comic book shop as a teenager and now curates his own imprint for DC. He had his first comic published when he was just 15, and began writing Umbrella Academy years later, in 2007, per the publication. Way even won the 2008 Eisner Award for best Limited Series for the original Umbrella Academy series, according to Comic Book Resources.
Both he and Bá have worked on other comics since embarking on Umbrella Academy together, and Way said that just means new editions are giving readers their best work. "Every time you write a comic, you get a bit better at it, and at this point I have more comics under my belt than I did when I wrote the first two volumes, and Gabriel has drawn many other stories and kept perfecting his craft, so you're getting the best from both of us," he told CBR.
The first reviews of The Umbrella Academy series are rolling in, and some have already been glowing. Stuart McGurk wrote for GQ UK that the show's unlikely charm and "steampunk Wes Anderson" vibe seems difficult to pull off, but The Umbrella Academy is successful. "I know none of it should work. But it's also intimate and human and delightfully off-kilter and should, by rights, be Netflix’s first big hit of the year."
Hopefully, with the TV and comic teams working so closely together, The Umbrella Academy has a long future ahead of it in print and onscreen.