CLAUDIO SANCHEZ

Everyone has an artist who resonates with them on a deeper level than any other. Someone who speaks to them personally, giving them a role model. For me, this person is Claudio Sanchez — front man of the prog-rock band Coheed and Cambria and writer of THE AMORY WARS, the cult classic space opera comic series. Claudio’s creativity compels him to express the stories in his mind through multiple mediums. The lyrics of nearly every song by his band relate to THE AMORY WARS’ lore, and in turn, his life as part of the band fuels the expanding story.

As of April 2017, THE AMORY WARS continues with its third arc, “Good Apollo I’m Burning Star IV.” Reading each issue is a new and valuable experience for me. As much as I want to share my excitement with others, very few people have even heard of the series. Even I only recently read the comics after years of being a Coheed and Cambria fan. To solve this problem, I will be writing a series on the history and plot of each arc of THE AMORY WARS. Hopefully I can convince people to read the comic along the way, but at the very least this history will allow readers to jump into the latest issues.

The Crowing: From Small Beginnings to an Explosive Rise

I first discovered Coheed and Cambria in high school. It was purely by chance, but the killer art of the Afterman album attracted me. I’m glad I chose it because immediately the music drew me in. I could hardly name the genre at the time because the music sounded so different from anything I was used to. It was like Claudio Sanchez and his band mates are so in love with all types of music that they included whatever inspired them. The important thing, however, is that it works. No matter how high or low the music is, whether it’s electric or acoustic, it always retains that Coheed sound.

READ: Interested in more rock history? Check out this history of The Monkees!

Claudio Sanchez formed the band in his hometown of Nyack, NY. They were just kids when they started, but they persevered until their music spoke for themselves. The journey truly began when they changed the name from Shabutie to Coheed and Cambria. That marked the beginning of their growth into true rock stars. The first four albums are a connected tetralogy telling the story of the Kilgannon family amidst the 78 worlds of Heaven’s Fence.

Coheed and Cambria began as the primary protagonists of Claudio’s story — a married couple of cyborgs who conspired against Whilhelm Ryan’s tyrannical rule. The plot encompasses a galactic fight for control between a tyrannical despot, space angels, and a chosen one. Pretty familiar framework, but the execution is unlike anything I’ve seen before. The first three albums each reference a number that is one greater than their order of release, making it even more confusing to figure out the chronology. That chronology, from the first comic to the latest, is SECOND STAGE TURBINE BLADE (published by Image Comics); IN KEEPING SECRETS OF SILENT EARTH: 3 (published by BOOM! Studios); GOOD APOLLO I’M BURNING STAR IV (also published by BOOM! Studios).

Claudio Sanchez
Courtesy of BOOM! Studios

Claudio Sanchez first came up with the idea for his space opera while on vacation in Paris with his high school sweetheart. The foreign sites he saw and the love he felt for his companion spurred his creativity. He thought up a super-powered couple going to alien worlds across the universe and fighting for what they believe in. THE BAG.ON.LINE ADVENTURES OF COHEED AND CAMBRIA was the original name for the concept. However, while Claudio was writing the lyrics for the album Second Stage Turbine Blade, the title characters began to resemble his own parents. Thus he shifted the focus of the story to be about himself and his family.

The new title of the series became THE AMORY WARS after the street he grew up on. This iteration of the story had more of a focus on Claudio Kilgannon, the teenage son of Coheed and Cambria and writer self-insert. Even when characters are flying between planets and shooting giant bursts of green energy, the core theme of THE AMORY WARS is about family. For many years, the story was only told through the band’s songs. However, after the fourth album, the comic adaptation began.

Claudio’s first comic adaptation of his music did not begin with the first album. Instead, he created an adaptation of the third album (Good Apollo, I’m Burning Star IV, Volume One: From Fear Through the Eyes of Madness) as a promotion alongside the album’s release. It was not highly regarded due to the choice of art style and the decision to adapt the band’s story out of order. Claudio did not give up though. With the release of their next album, THE AMORY WARS would truly begin.

Neverender: A Fusion of Mediums Creates Something Wholly Unique

In 2007, Coheed and Cambria released their fourth studio album, Good Apollo, I’m Burning Star IV, Volume Two: No World for Tomorrow. That mouthful of an album marked the conclusion of the band’s tetralogy. Alongside it was the release of the comic adaptation of their debut album, Second Stage Turbine Blade (SSTB). While Claudio’s first foray into comics was an admittedly poorly executed adaptation of the third album’s story with SSTB he started from the top. The comic perfectly reflects the tone and mood of the first album, along with the actual plot, of course.

Both the album and comic versions of SSTB give off an unrefined vibe, speaking to the band’s uphill climb. Neither one is perfect. What they are, though, are impressive touchstones in Claudio Sanchez’s creative journey. Combined, they create something more than the sum of its parts. Something special. Something that resonated deep within me and many others.

READ: If you like rock music and comics, check out this review of BILL AND TED SAVE THE UNIVERSE!

In 2010, Coheed and Cambria released their first prequel album: Year of the Black Rainbow. Coinciding with its release were two new additions to the canon. One a novel of the same name depicting the history of the two titular characters, and the other a comic adaptation of the second album, In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth; 3 (IKKSE3). The continuation of THE AMORY WARS saga follows Claudio Kilgannon as he discovers his true powers and comes to grips with his grand role in the universe. IKKSE3 is a wildly exciting epic that plays with tropes of Campbell’s The Hero’s Journey to deliver what is, I can safely say, my favorite comic book. Its tone perfectly captures the passionate love and excitement that spurred on the band’s second album.

Claudio Sanchez
Courtesy of BOOM! Studios

Welcome Home: The Story Finally Continues

Now, in 2017, the comic continues in GOOD APOLLO I’M BURNING STAR IV. The third album is a much darker and brutal departure from the rest of the music and the story. This reflects the struggle Claudio Sanchez endured when his girlfriend broke up with him. The story became a way for Claudio to vent his frustrations with his romantic life as well as life on tour. In fact, his angst was so strong that he added a meta-narrative to the plot. He inserts another version of himself into the story. He is the writer-god of THE AMORY WARS universe, whose mental state shatters after his own girlfriend left him.

The original comic adaptation of GOOD APOLLO (the one that came out before the official AMORY WARS series) told this story, but its art, while striking, did not do the story justice. The fact that Claudio wrote the comic before SSTB didn’t make it any easier to understand either. Now it is being remade as part of THE AMORY WARS. I find it as exciting and compelling as any other part of the series. I was never able to get a hold of the original adaptation, so seeing where the story will go and how it contextualizes the album is all new to me. As a Coheed and Cambria super fan, I can barely contain my excitement every time a new issue comes out.

Claudio Sanchez
Courtesy of BOOM! Studios

READ: Want another perspective on the new THE AMORY WARS series? Check out this article on GOOD APOLLO, I’M BURNING STAR IV!

Over the next couple of weeks, I will be analyzing all three arcs of the series. Hopefully, this primer has conveyed how important Claudio Sanchez, Coheed and Cambria, and THE AMORY WARS are to me. If I can get even one person interested in Claudio’s creations, these articles will be worth the effort.

Look forward to my history and analysis of the beginning of this epic saga: SECOND STAGE TURBINE BLADE.

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One Comment

  1. FR4NCESTHEMUTE

    August 2, 2017 at 4:48 pm

    Possible have an extra copy of IKSSE3 #9 C2E2 variant? Been looking for it for quite some time.

    Reply

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