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Gerard Way was born April 9, 1977 in Summit, New Jersey to Donna Lee (née Rush) and Donald Way. He is half Italian from his mother's side and half Scottish from his father's side. He was raised in Belleville, New Jersey and first began singing publicly in fourth grade, when he played the role of Peter Pan in a school musical production. His maternal grandmother, Elena Lee Rush, was a prominent creative influence who taught him to sing, paint, and perform from a young age. He has referred to her in interviews, stating that "she has taught me everything I know". The glam metal band Bon Jovi was also instrumental in forming his love of music throughout elementary school.
At the age of 15, Way was held at gunpoint. He stated in an interview with Rolling Stone in April 2008 that "I got held up with a .357 Magnum, had a gun pointed to my head and put on the floor, execution-style." The incident did not, however, impinge on his views of the world. 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."
Way attended Belleville High School and 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 Vincent Price".
Music has turned out to be an effective means for Way 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 grandmother.
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.
In March 2013 The band officially broke up.
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 Apocalypse Suite".
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 they are working on another comic book project which they have kept under wraps as of mid-2011.
In 2001 Way co-created a cartoon with Joe Boyle called The Breakfast Monkey. They pitched it to Cartoon Network, but the network declined to pick up the concept on the grounds that it was too similar to the existing property Aqua Teen Hunger Force.
Way has struggled with alcoholism and prescription drug addiction for many years and has now been sober since August 2004. In a recent issue of Spin magazine, he said that, having become a happier person and feeling more in control, he has been able to enjoy the occasional recreational drink.
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