Way was born in Summit, New Jersey, on April 9, 1977, the son of Donna Lee (née Rush) and Donald Way. He is of Italian and Scottish ancestry. Raised in Belleville, New Jersey, alongside brother Mikey Way, he 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.
As teenagers, Gerard and his brother Mikey Way, who later became the bassist of My Chemical Romance, were influenced by artists such as Iron Maiden, The Misfits, Danzig, Black Flag, Queen,Pulp, Blur, 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.
In many interviews, Way has stated that music and his art work turned out to be an effective outlet to deal with his longtime battles against depression, alcoholism and prescription drug abuse. 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.
On March 22, 2013, My Chemical Romance announced their break up.
In May 2014, Way launched his Tumblr-based website where he announced that he had signed to Warner Bros. Records as a solo artist and was nearing completion of his first solo album.
Further to this he announced a new song, "Action Cat", released later in June as a promotional single to his new album and his first solo shows at Reading and Leeds Festivals 2014. He later announced another solo performance that took place at Portsmouth's Wedgewood Rooms on August 20. On August 19, Way streamed a new music video for the song "No Shows", released as the first single off the new album on August 19. The album, titled Hesitant Alien, was released on September 30, 2014.
When Way was asked why he chose to implement the Britpop genre into his music he stated that he enjoyed the energy and style of the music and its scene, and was urged to revive the genre in America.
In February and March 2015, Way performed as a solo artist with The Hormones on the main stage of the Australian 2015 Soundwave music festivals, and headlined an additional sideshow in Melbourne.
In early 2015, it was announced that he would perform at the Boston Calling Music Festival in May 2015.
On Record Store Day 2016, Way released two exclusive, unreleased tracks from Hesitant Alien titled "Don't Try" and "Pinkish".
2018: Later solo work
On October 28, 2018, Way released his first major solo single in over two years, titled "Baby You're a Haunted House". The official lyric video, featuring four skeleton-masked musicians performing the song, was released on YouTube on the same day.
On November 15, Way released another single, "Getting Down The Germs", which was co-written with former bandmate Ray Toro. The single "gives a peek of where [Way] will be headed musically," according to a statement released by Way.
On December 14, Way released a third single, "Dasher", which features additional vocals from Lydia Night of The Regrettes. The single is a Christmas-themed story about a girl who falls in love with a reindeer as they await to be reunited after a long absence.
Gerard Way and The Hormones
As a solo artist, Way performs with a live band to provide additional instrumentation and vocals.
Note: This is the most recent touring line-up in support of Hesitant Alien.
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, titled "Safe and Sound", 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 contributed vocals for the vocal mix of the deadmau5 song "Professional Griefers".
Way's first attempt at writing a comic was at the age of 16 in 1993, writing a comic book series called On Raven's Wings, published by Hart D. Fisher's Bonyard Press, 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 redrew the art in the first volume, Apocalypse Suite.
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 entitled "Safe & Sound", which appeared in a collection of stories entitled MySpace Dark Horse Presents Volume One. The first official issue of The Umbrella Academy was released on September 19, 2007. The first issue sold out and consequently there was a second printing released on October 17, 2007.Apocalypse Suite also won the 2008 Eisner Award for Best Limited Series. The next installment of the series, Dallas, was released on November 26, 2008, and, following speculation that Way had retired indefinitely from comics, a third installment entitled Hotel Oblivion is currently in the works.
In 2011, My Chemical Romance stated that Mikey and Gerard were working on another comic book project which they had kept under wraps since mid-2009. As of 2015 nothing of this project has emerged.
On December 21, 2013, Gerard Way stated that he and Gabriel Ba will be working on parts three and four of his comic book series Umbrella Academy beginning in the new year.
In a podcast interview on December 31, 2013 with Chris Thompson from Pop Culture Hound, Way discussed his new Umbrella Academy series in more detail and confirmed he would do two volumes back-to-back, with a couple of flashback issues in-between. In addition, he discussed his new comic series All Ages which first appeared as a series of images on his Twitter feed. Although the project doesn't have a publisher or an artist at this stage, he is actively working on the story of cats in high-school who are discovering their place in the world.
In 2014, it was announced that Way will be making his debut in the Marvel Universe by writing for the alternate universe Spider-Man series Edge of Spider-Verse. His story introduced Peni Parker, a Japanese-American student who pilots a bio-mechanical suit named SP//dr.
Way promoting his comic book projects with DC Comics at the 2017 WonderCon.
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.
In 2013, Way made his television directorial debut on The Hub original series The Aquabats! Super Show!, co-directing and co-writing the season two finale "The AntiBats!" with series co-creators Christian Jacobs and Jason deVilliers. Additionally, Way's brother Mikey appears in the episode, playing the lead singer of a fictional death metal band called Asthma. The following year, the episode was nominated for a Daytime Emmy Award in the category for "Outstanding Writing in a Children's Series".
Way in 2012
Way struggled with alcoholism and prescription drug addiction for many years but is now sober. In a November 2010 issue of Spin magazine, he said that having become a happier person and feeling more in control, he had been able to enjoy the occasional recreational drink.
In 2014, Way began openly discussing his gender identity struggles online and in interviews. In a Reddit AMA hosted by Way in October 2014, he stated, "I have always been extremely sensitive to those that have gender identity issues as I feel like I have gone through it as well, if even on a smaller scale. I have always identified a fair amount with the female gender, and began at a certain point in MCR to express this through my look and performance style. So it's no surprise that all of my inspirations and style influences were pushing gender boundaries. Freddy [sic] Mercury, Bowie, Iggy, early glam, T-Rex. Masculinity to me has always made me feel like it wasn't right for me."
In January 2015, Way was featured in The Boyzine, an independent zine published by SWMRS frontman Cole Becker. Way again discussed his gender identity, commenting, "I never really subscribed to the archetype masculinity growing up, I had no interest in sports or anything like that. There was a time where I was called a girl so often that when I discovered the idea of transgenderism I considered myself to be more of a girl. So I identify with trans people and women a lot because I was a girl to a lot of people growing up."
Cave Carson Has a Cybernetic Eye #1-12 (co-writer Jon Rivera, artist Michael Avon Oeming, colorist Nick Filardi, letterer Clem Robins, Young Animal, 2016-2017)
Short stories and single issues
The Umbrella Academy
"Mon Dieu!" (artist Gabriel Bá, colorist Dan Jackson, letterer Jason Hvam, appeared on darkhorse.com, 2006)
"...But the Past Ain't Through with You." (artist Gabriel Bá, colorist Dan Jackson, letterer Nate Piekos, appeared in Free Comic Book Day 2007, Dark Horse, 2007)
"Safe & Sound" (artist Gabriel Bá, colorist Dave Stewart, letterer Nate Piekos, appeared in MySpace Dark Horse Presents #1, Dark Horse, 2007)
"Anywhere but Here" (artist Gabriel Bá, colorist Dave Stewart, letterer Nate Piekos, appeared in MySpace Dark Horse Presents #12, Dark Horse, 2008)
"The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys: Dead Satellites" (co-writer Shaun Simon, artist Becky Cloonan, colorist Dan Jackson, letterer Nate Piekos, appeared in Free Comic Book Day 2013, Dark Horse, 2013)
"One Thing's for Sure: SP//dr Is Still Intact" (artist Jack Wyatt, colorist Ian Herring, letterer Clayton Cowles, appeared in Edge of Spider-Verse #5, Marvel Comics, 2014)
"Untitled" (artist Philip Bond, colorist Hi-Fi, letterer Sal Cipriano, appeared in Vertigo Quarterly CMYK #3: Yellow, Vertigo, 2014)
"DC's Young Animal Mixtape" (artist Mike Allred, colorist Laura Allred, letterer Carlos M. Mangual, appeared in DC's Young Animal Mixtape Sampler #1, Young Animal, 2017)
"Milk Wars" Part One (co-writer Steve Orlando, artists Aco, colorists Tamra Bonvillain and Marissa Louise, letterer Clem Robins, additional artist Hugo Petrus, appeared in JLA/Doom Patrol Special #1, DC Comics/Yong Animal, 2018)
"Untitled" (artist Robert Wilson IV, colorist Kelly Fitzpatrick, letterer Ryan Ferrier, appeared in The Secret Loves of Geeks, ISBN978-1506704739, Dark Horse, 2018)
"Milk Wars" Part Four (co-writer Steve Orlando; artists Dale Eaglesham and Nick Derington; colorists Tamra Bonvillain and Marissa Louise; letterer Clem Robins; additional artists Sonny Liew, Ibrahim Moustafa, Michael Avon Oeming, and Marley Zarcone; appeared in Doom Patrol/JLA Special #1; DC/Yong Animal; 2018)
"Edge of Spider-Geddon" Part Two (co-writer Lonnie Nadler and Zac Thompson, artist Alberto Alburquerque, colorist Tríona Farrell, letterer Cory Petit, additional artist Jack Wyatt, additional colorist Ian Herring, appeared in Edge of Spider-Geddon #2, Marvel, 2018)
^Gustines, George Gene. "Superhero Stylings From Stars of Pop", The New York Times, October 20, 2007. Accessed November 27, 2007. "For Mr. Way, "Umbrella Academy" was another way to be productive when he wasn't recording with the band. It also used skills he developed as a student at the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan."