For longtime comic book fans, it feels good to have DOOM PATROL back on the stands. It feels even better that it’s being helmed—and confidently at that—by Eisner Award-winner Gerard Way as the flagship title of his highly discussed imprint, DC’s Young Animal. Way’s modern take on Doom Patrol kicked off the imprint with its debut issue last fall and won overwhelming acclaim for its strange-yet-extremely-human story and for Nick Derington’s confident, protean art stylings.
With the first Doom Patrol collection, DOOM PATROL VOL. 1: BRICK BY BRICK, now in stores, the time felt right to sit down with Way and discuss the ins-and-outs of the series and imprint, including when we’ll be seeing more of Niles Caulder, how the Allreds got involved with DC’s Young Animal and how he keeps things from getting too weird.
DC’s Young Animal has been going strong for a little while now and we’re now seeing the first collected editions landing in stores. How do you feel about the line at this point?
I feel great about it. The best part about the whole experience has been collaborating with all of the teams, and then watching them go off and run their own books. That’s been really amazing. Obviously, I still look over everything that comes through, but being there in the beginning, helping plant the seeds with the creators, and then watching them go and take their stories and run with them has been really rewarding.
It’s almost more of what a comic book editor tends to experience when developing a project.
Yeah, there’s a combination of a lot of things that I’m doing with the books. There is a degree of editorial work I’m doing on them, even proofreading and making sure the story makes sense, and that we’re heading in the right direction with the books.
I’m curious, how do you get in the headspace to write something as weird as Doom Patrol? Does that sort of bizarre, boundary pushing storytelling come naturally to you?
I think it’s where I naturally am. I think both Nick and I are in the same place mentally, and it’s the right time for us to be writing this book.
How do you keep it from getting TOO strange? The first storyline got weird, but it never became too confusing or incoherent. There’s a logic to it.
You make sure that the story means something and has a lot of heart. That’s the main thing we try to get in there, even more so than a completely coherent story. If we make sure that they have a lot of heart, it’s okay if it takes a minute to get to the coherency.
So what can you tell us about the next story arc?
The first thing we’re going to do is see Niles Caulder again. He’s going to play a more prominent role in issue #7. After that, we’re going to see some new characters and old characters, some villains and things like that. We’re going to see the larger twelve issue story arc come to a close.
In the first storyline, we were introduced to Casey, and we spent a lot of time with Robotman, Danny the Street and Negative Man. Will we be seeing more of some of the other characters this time around?
I would love to bring Rita (Elasti-Girl) back in. I have a concept for her to bring her back in, but I’m not sure when I’ll be able to do it. I also want to eventually bring back Coagula. There are some characters from all of the runs that I want to get in there.
Just not quite sure when, it sounds like.
Yeah, we have a lot of story to get through.
How much do you have plotted out for Doom Patrol at this point?
I fill up these notebooks, and I have a lot more of the second arc plotted out than I did of the first. The first arc just kind of unfolded as it was happening. I had to start somewhere with that first issue, so I just started with what I knew and it kind of built as it went along.
Mike Allred is drawing a future issue, and he’s also now a part of DC’s Young Animal with BUG!. Did you want to get Mike involved in the imprint from the start?
When we first started the Young Animal imprint, Shelly Bond and I often talked about Mike and Laura Allred doing something for the imprint. I think it was inevitable. It was tailor made for him.
Were you a fan of his?
Definitely. Also, Jamie , who edits Doom Patrol, is a big fan and he knows the Allreds. So it’s been really nice to be able to work with Jamie and the Allreds on Bug!.
How would you describe Bug!? What can you tell us about that series?
It’s this old semi-obscure Jack Kirby character that I knew very little about, but what I bought about it was the enthusiasm that the Allred family had about doing the book. That sold me on the idea. And I do like obscure characters. I think they’re having the most fun of any of the Young Animal teams.
It’s not something we’ve talked a ton about, but these comics seem to have inspired some new music as well. Where did that idea come from?
It was just one of those things that happened. I rarely like to connect music to comics—or at least what I’m doing musically to comics. Killjoys was a little difficult to do because it was very connected to the band. But I was really inspired by the work we were doing on Young Animal. We wanted a Cave Carson documentary song and we just went and did it.
It’s pretty hard to get your hands on this music. Do you think you’ll ever make these songs available to the masses? Or will they stay limited?
For now we’ll keep it limited. But I think eventually the song will probably be available digitally.
Finally, if you could have a drink with either Casey Brinke, Cave Carson, Violet Paige or Loma, who would you choose and what would you talk about?
Oh, wow. Probably Casey Brinke. I’m trying to think of what we’d… Well, neither of us would be drinking. We’d be drinking soda pop. I would just like to hear her thought process for about twenty minutes. About any subject, really.