Gerard Way first began singing in fourth grade, when he played the part of Peter Pan in a school production of the play. His grandmother, Elena who also taught him to sing, was so excited about his role that she made him a costume that included green tights. After this Way 'turned his back' on singing, saying, "Well, I don't want to be this weird singer kid, [I'm] into other things like comics and Iron Maiden". He then decided to pursue graphic arts. Way had always been interested in drawing and comics because his childhood house was a "dark and dingy gothic-looking" place in an area of New Jersey where it was crime-ridden. Dead bodies were almost frequently found in the West Hudson River, which was located in a park where children went to play. Way says that as a child, you couldn't really go out and play, so what he did was make up imaginary worlds in his head, which led on to his love for artwork.
After graduating from high school in 1995, he attended School of Visual Arts in New York City graduating with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in 1999. In 2001, Way says he tried to sell an animated television series to Cartoon Network called The Breakfast Monkey. He maintains that Cartoon Network turned down the pitch because it was too similar to Aqua Teen Hunger Force, then already in production.
The Formation of My Chemical Romance
When the September 11th attacks occurred, Way was working in the comic industry in New York, and could see the horror occurring at the Twin Towers. This inspired him to "do something with his life", and he formed the band My Chemical Romance. The song "Skylines and Turnstiles" is the first song ever written by My Chemical Romance, and it is based off of Way's experience with the 9/11 incident. The band's name, suggested by Mikey Way, came from a book written by Irvine Welsh, entitled Ecstasy: Three Tales of Chemical Romance. Gerard brought together Ray Toro, Matt Pelissier (later replaced by Bob Bryar), Frank Iero, and his brother Mikey to play gigs along the East Coast. The band soon released its first album I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your Love in 2002 under the at that time obscure New Jersey label Eyeball Records. Music turned out to be an effective means for Way to deal with his longtime battle against depression, alcoholism, and prescription drug abuse, leading to the creation of deeply personal songs such as "Helena", written after the death of his grandmother, Elena Lee Rush.
Despite his success as a musician, Way has not left his drawing behind: He drew all of the art on the band's second album, Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge and has designed merchandise for his and other similar bands. He also has made efforts in order to raise money through his art for causes such as the fight against breast cancer. Other charity funds include working with The Used lead singer Bert McCracken to release a cover of the Queen and David Bowie single Under Pressure, on a Tsunami Relief charity CD.