It’s not uncommon to find many people cynical about the state of the modern music industry. Many would argue that music is more the result of converging corporate objectives and a general avarice, as opposed to a desire to create a memorable musical experience that resonates in one’s soul. Simply put, there’s a belief that modern musicians are lazy and uninspiring; however, it’s very unlikely that those same criticisms would be leveled against the band “Coheed and Cambria.” Chances are that if you’re in university, you’ve seen their music videos on “MTV U” and if you’re a music magazine reader, you’ve seen a number of publications honor them as the next big thing. As for ambition, front man Claudio Sanchez has never been one to walk the beaten path, instead using C&C’s albums to tell a larger story of a married couple finding their purpose in their life as they discover their one unique place in life. With the announcement that “The Amory Wars” will continue in a new series this summer, CBR News caught up with Sanchez to learn more about the mini-series, published by 12 Gauge Comics/ Image Comics and his own company Evil Ink Comics.
“‘The Amory Wars’ is the overall title of the mythology that surrounds Coheed and Cambria,” Sanchez told CBR News. “It’s an epic story of an alternate universe – it’s creation and demise, and ultimately the origins of our own solar system. ‘The Amory Wars’ also chronicles the life and death of Coheed and Cambria, a married couple who are presented with the possibility that they are not like everyone else, but rather, have a deeper purpose within the universe they know. That universe is called Heaven’s Fence. This revelation is the catalyst to a series of chaotic events that eventually leads to their deaths and huge changes in their universe.”
The first issue of the five-issue mini-series hits stores in early June, with this first series making up “The Second Stage Turbine Blade,” which is also the title of the band’s debut album. “The reader gets to know Coheed and Cambria, and their family – and the other key players in the mythology. Also, there is a little history lesson as to the universe of Heaven’s Fence and the way it works. But as soon as these introductions have been made, our readers are thrust into a world of violence and betrayal. But the self-contained story in ‘The Second Stage Turbine Blade’ is only half the story. It has a beginning a middle and an end, so the reader gets a whole story, but there’s a whole other mini-series that finishes off the story. Just like the first ‘Star Wars’ movie or ‘The Matrix’ tells a whole story, but is also a piece of a bigger mythology.”
This isn’t the first time “The Amory Wars” have been seen in comic book form, with Sanchez self publishing a previous run. “We published two issues of a book entitled ‘The Second Stage Turbine Blade,’ with Wes Abbott as the artist. There are some similarities between ‘The Amory Wars’ and that series because the origins of the story and the characters are the same. But I’ve expanded the story in a lot of new directions and there’s a ton of new stuff and some awesome new action, even if the reader bought the first books.”
In the tradition of those aforementioned sci-fi epics, “The Amory Wars” is populated by a diverse, compelling cast of character with – you guessed it – Coheed and Cambria at the forefront of the tale. Sanchez explained, “Coheed Killgannon is a blue collar type, who works hard at a hard job to provide for his family. He’s a little abrasive at times, but he’s got a big heart. Coheed suffers from a reoccurring nightmare that hints at his true origin. His wife, Cambria, is a stay-at-home mom, who keeps the family together. She’s trying to make sense of her past, as memories come to her in fragments of a life she doesn’t believe she lived. She keeps this a secret from Coheed.
“Inferno is Coheed’s brother – and we discover he is a large part of Co & Ca’s past, as they were all a part of a government unit called the K.B.I. Inferno, who we actually meet on Page 1, also acts as the narrator of the story.
“The ‘bad guys’ are Wilhelm Ryan, our lead antagonist, is Supreme Tri-Mage of Heaven’s Fence. There’s a shadowy, grass-roots group that’s threatening his rule, and Mayo Deftinwolf – general to Ryan’s Red Army – hopes to use Coheed and Cambria to secure Ryan’s position.”
While this story is told in print format, one can’t forget that the same story has been told through the music albums from Sanchez’s band, albums that many astute listeners will realize have told three and half parts of the overall four part saga. If you’re wondering where this “Amory Wars” mini-series fits in chronologically, Sanchez was happy to reveal, “This part, ‘The Second Stage Turbine Blade,’ definitely feeds off the album it coincides with. I wouldn’t go as far as saying each song on the record has its own book, but it’s pretty damn close as every song is hinted at one way or another.
“As a songwriter, I try to make the concept a bit ambiguous in the lyrics so the fans who don’t want to bother with the concept can still relate to the music on a personal level. But there is still enough information inside the music for those who wish to enjoy the conceptual side of the project, so much so, that the audience has participated on the internet to create their own interpretations of the story and it’s outcome. But honestly, you don’t need the records to enjoy the comics and vice versa.”
Writer David Tischman, who fans might remember from Vertigo’s “Bite Club” mini-series or IDW’s “Star Trek: The Next Generation” series, will edit the mini-series. Sanchez explained that he was introduced to Tischman through his friend & manager Blaze James, adding, “I write the scripts and send them to David, and we talk about them, and David checks my spelling before the script reaches the hands of the artist. David brings a tremendous amount of energy and enthusiasm to this title and I really do enjoy working with him. Kisses, David.”
Joining Sanchez on “Amory Wars” is artist Gus Vasquez, whose work on the “VS” line of superhero game cards has met with positive reception and who has a famous niece – Rosario Dawson, a comic book writer in her own right. “We got hooked up with Gus through Keven Gardner at 12 Gauge Comics,” said Sanchez. “12 Gauge is doing a great job putting the book together. I really loved what they did with ‘The Ride’ and ‘Body Bags,’ and Keven’s been great to work with.
“On the art side we have Gus Vazquez, who’s done a ton of stuff with DC and Marvel, and I think Gus brings a storytelling aspect to the book with his art, a bit more so than previous artists I’ve worked with. And don’t forget Tony Moore on the covers. I’ve been a huge fan of Tony’s for years, and I love the work he’s been doing on ‘Fear Agent,’ and we were really lucky to get him. Tony’s girlfriend is a fan of the band, and that’s how we met. Tony’s got an awesome cover for Issue #1 and I love it when we get on the phone and talk about his sketches. Our conversations usually consist of me telling him his stuff rules.”
Sanchez will have lots of people tell him that his stuff rules when Coheed & Cambria hit the Warped Tour later this year, touring with equally popular and unique bands in WT tradition. “I will definitely use Warped Tour as an outlet,” said Sanchez of promoting the comic book. “We’ve been talking about doing an exclusive cover of the title that will only be available on the Warped Tour. Also, because I’m traveling so much, we’ll be doing signings at local shops and at some venues, too – and we’re working on more creative ways to make the tour work to our advantage.”
That spirit of innovation extends to his marketing efforts in unexpected venues, with Sanchez using his popularity at some niche stores to bring comic books to an even wider audience. “When we were publishing the books solely through our comic book imprint, Evil Ink Comics, Hot Topic was and remains one of our biggest supporters. So yes, they will be an alternate route of distribution. Also, Merchnow is another alternative that we love, and they work really hard for us. They deal primarily in band merchandise and internet sales, and have given our books a strong presence on the web. And of course, touring is also a way to make them available.”
When he’s not busy on tour or writing his own comics, Sanchez likes to escape into some four color adventures himself. We asked him what he pulls off the spinner rack. “As a young reader I primarily read the classics inside the DC & Marvel mythologies. I also found I gravitated towards characters with a religious twist to them like Ghost Rider & Spawn. My initial interest in comics was the art. I envisioned myself as an illustrator, that maybe one day I’d get to pencil some of these characters, but quickly I realized I was a poor sequential artist. Then as I got older, I got more into the writing and found I had just as many favorites among the text as I did the visuals. I started reading titles like Alan Moore’s ‘The Watchmen,’ Grant Morrison’s ‘Arkham Asylum,’ Frank Miller’s ‘Daredevil’ & ‘Sin City,’ Jeph Loeb’s ‘Batman: The Long Halloween,’ Garth Ennis’s ‘Preacher’ and the like. Today, the titles I try to keep up with – although touring makes it difficult – are Robert Kirkman’s ‘The Walking Dead,’ Mike Mignola’s ‘Hellboy’ & Garth Ennis’s ‘The Boys.’
CBR Staff Writer Arune Singh contributed to this article