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NYCC: Interview with Claudio Sanchez and Chondra Echert

Written by Royal Nonesuch on Wednesday, October 24 2012 and posted in Features
NYCC: Interview with Claudio Sanchez and Chondra Echert

The creative minds behind Evil Ink Comics talked to The Outhouse about all things Evil Ink.

While Claudio Sanchez is best known as the frontman for rock band Coheed & Cambria, he's also made a name in comics along with wife/co-writer Chondra Echert.  They formed Evil Ink, a company that publishes through Boom! Studios and has done more than just adapt Coheed's sprawling science-fiction concept albums to comics.  Kill Audio and Key of Z are projects that are wholly original and don't have a precursor in another medium.  While Sanchez kept busy for much of 2012 working on the band's new double album, he and Echert found time to write sequels to both of their major comics.  Sanchez and Echert spoke to The Outhouse from the Evil Ink booth at New York Comic-Con.


The Outhouse (OH): Talk about how 2012 was for Evil Ink, as well as what you have planned for 2013.


Claudio Sanchez (CS): We just concluded Key of Z this year, with the trade paperback collection.  Now we've started working on the follow-up to Key of Z, as well as the follow-up to Kill Audio. Those have been the two main projects we've been detailing.  With Key of Z, we sort of had this roadblock where we created this new villain, and we found that maybe, in his creation, he wasn't nearly as unique as we had hoped, so we just started to add some more details to him, more conflict.  I think we're at a place where we're ready to start rebuilding the script.  We also wanted to make Ewing the main character again, seeing as how Key of Z 1 ended on this nice, romantic conclusion where you weren't necessarily sure if he lived or died.  I think we're going to bring Ewing back as the main character.  Kill Audio, we're sort of trying to reel in Mr. Sheldon [Vella, Kill Audio artist] he's been really busy with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles show.  We're trying to get him situated with the script.  We're really trying to detail the script in a different way because we really want Sheldon to blossom on this approach, as opposed to really constrain him.  He's a wonderful artist and I want him to explore his strengths as much as possible, so we're trying to find a new formula to the script for Sheldon.


Chondra Echert (CE): With the original series, we did it issue-to-issue, and some of them were "mega issues," where we'd jump from twenty-two pages to forty or thirty-six, so with this, when we originally scripted Kill Audio 2, which is actually complete, it's 140+ pages of script, that looks like any other script we would have written, so what we're doing is taking that really detailed script and sort of reverse-engineering them to be more broad strokes so Sheldon can put in his own panels and kind of work the way we like to see him work best, and it'll hopefully make him work more efficiently so we can get this sucker done as one big graphic novel, instead of [issues].


OH: Have there been a lot of moments like that in your comics career where you have to readjust as you're going along?


CS: For sure.  Definitely.  Even when we see finished pages, we find that the dialogue in panels might not flow nearly as smoothly as we'd hoped, so a lot of re-writing comes into play.  I like that.  It's always ever-changing.  You want to make it work and complement the visuals as much as possible and if it just doesn't work in the final piece, you've gotta bend it a little bit.  I like that.


CE: I was talking to somebody the other day, it was actually here, and they had said the difference in working in prose and working in comics is the use of adjectives.  You're not using adjectives, you're thinking in adjectives.  That's something that as writers, we're always expanding upon.  How can we really tweak these broad stories and ideas and make them right for the medium, and feel like the pages are bouncing?  People want stories that they're immersed, so we're always trying to come up with new ways of doing that.


OH: Now that you are comic book creators after having been comic fans, what kind of relationship do you have with the medium today?  


CS: With the release of the record, I haven't really been that attentive to the medium, but to this day... I was looking at our collection, and beneath our TV are all of the books that we've written, and in that pile of books is WatchmenWatchmen is something I like to reference because I think that is THE comic book.  It's the thing you want to attain as a writer. 


CE: For me, in contrast to Claudio –he grew up reading comics and he was always really interested in the medium, so he has all these classics that he's going back to like Watchmen and Batman stories, and things like that – the only comic I ever read growing up were Archie, Betty & Veronica, all those things.  As an adult, working in the medium has exposed me to it in a way I never was before.  It's like learning a new language where you're totally just excited...I'm reading books I should have read ten years ago, so from that perspective, yeah I'm looking at them critically as learning tools, but mostly just with these new set of eyes, I'm really excited to get into comics and find books that are intriguing and learn those classics as an adult. 


OH: You guys are married, as well as collaborators.  Does the personal relationship inform the co-writing partnership, or vice versa?  Is there anything to that notion?


CE: Claudio and I, in terms of who we are as people, are very, very different.  We are very much on opposite ends of the spectrum, which I think makes us a strong couple in general because we pull together and meet somewhere in the middle and we're always learning things from each other about life, and that applies to comic writing, or anything creative that we do is sort of drawing on each other's strengths and recognizing those in each other to come to this place where you're both lending such a different perspective to something and hopefully meeting in the middle.  I think the best books, the best movies, the best...things are when you bring people together who have such dramatically different ways of seeing the world and you create this piece that never could have existed without those differences.


OH: If Kill Audio were to be dropped into the world of Key of Z, who wins?  Kill Audio, or the zombies?


CS: Well, Kill Audio at the moment is immortal, as are the zombies, so I guess that fight goes on forever [laughs].


CE: They swap body parts.


OH: Then the Amory Wars break out!


CS: [laughs]


CE: We had a moment in time where we were really like "what if we did a three-way crossover?"


CS: Yeah, like would Kill Audio act as Bat-Mite, and Coheed is sort of the Batman, since they're both sort of weird extensions of each other...I don't know, that always sounds fun to me.  I've got a couple of other titles that I've got broad strokes for that I want to characters, like my first attempt at superheroes...There's something about the conventions and when we get to the conventions that gets me inspired to do something.  It feeds a hunger.  When we're doing the Coheed records, the comic book writing takes a back seat because that's such a big focus, so the timing couldn't be right, so the new ideas just kind of flow, and the want to create in this medium again seems very much alive.  I think the more titles that we get, the more that that could be a reality, this big crossover, with everything Evil Ink just mashed into one.


CE: Ten-way crossover!


Speaking of forthcoming projects that are percolating, you guys are working on a movie as well.


CS: Sort of.  Right now, it's just a partnership between the Amory Wars property and Leverage, the production company.  It's really just the two things coming together and making The Amory Wars a live-action reality.


OH: Want to plug the new record?


CS: Yeah, on October 9, we released The Afterman: Ascension, which is the first half of the double album.  The second, Descension, comes out in February.  It's basically the origin tale of the character of Cyrus Amory, the namesake of The Amory Wars.  He's the guy who discovered the value of the Keywork and it's relationship to the seventy-eight planets of the Heaven's Fence.


OH: And will there be a tour behind it?


Yes, we start a short tour that leads us into Europe, and then we're off for the holidays, but come February, when Descension gets released, we're going to do a full support of both records.   


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About the Author - Royal Nonesuch

As Senior Media Correspondent (which may be a made-up title), Royal Nonesuch tends to spearhead a lot of film and television content on The Outhouse. He's still a very active participant in the comic book section of the site, though. Nonesuch writes reviews of film, television, and comics, and conducts interviews for the site as well.  You can reach out to him on Twitter or with Email.


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