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UNDER THE RADAR (C2E2 EDITION): Claudio Sanchez & Chondra Echert on Translucid

Posted on May 3, 2014 at 10:00 am by Heather Antos

UntitledComic book writing duo – and real life super powered husband and wife – Claudio Sanchez (frontman for Coheed and Cambria) and Chondra Echert sat down with me at C2E2 to talk about Batman, the Joker, and most of all, their superbly fascinating new series called Translucid



HEATHER ANTOS: How would the two of you describe the premise of Translucid?

CHONDRA ECHERT: Translucid is a story about a hero called the ‘Navigator’ and his arch-nemesis, the ‘Horse.’ Over the years their relationship becomes so co-dependent that the villain decides he wants to get out of it. He doesn’t think that the Navigator is the hero that he wants once was and he’s become too reliant on him. So he [the Horse] decides he has to kill him and, as a sort of farewell present, makes him [the Navigator] confront all of these demons in his past that have pushed him to become a hero.

HA: That sounds like a very dark relationship. Did you guys have something this dark in mind when writing?BOOM_Translucid_001_A

CLAUDIO SANCHEZ: Yeah, you know a few years ago when they released the Arkham City Batman game I was actually asked to record a song inspired by the script of the game. So I wrote this tune called Deranged which was basically about the relationship between Batman and the Joker and if the Joker was going to pass away, however he would, what would life be like? And this whole idea of “we’re one in the same and we’re both kind of crazy” came about. They sort of balance each other out, Batman and the Joker; one helps define the other. So, yeah, that was kind of the inspiration behind that.

HA: So then, I suppose the question of morality is to play a large part in Translucid? What is good versus what is evil?

CS: But also, I feel, just how much those two…I think when the story plays out and you get to the issue three through six mark you really start to see that there’s real heart in this relationship. I mean these guys, yeah, sure, they’re at war with each other, but the Horse is really trying to ultimately help the Navigator face his demons, to have closure.

CE: And in some ways it’s interesting because, you know, the Navigator comes from this place where he’s not immoral by any stretch of the imagination, but his morality is more learned from these events in his life that have traumatized him into thinking that this is the way that he should live just because it feels good to him, it’s the only thing that he has to fall back on; Whereas the Horse is almost, in some ways, more moral and more on the ‘straight and narrow’ than even our hero. He’s not an evil villain, he’s not just out to cause problems or to be destructive, and he sees the Navigator as somebody that he can push, somebody that he can make better.

HA: Absolutely. There was a line in Translucid #1 from the Navigator to the Horse “You’re the closest thing to a friend I’ve ever had.” That was such a strong moment in the book!Translucid_01_CVR_C2E2

CE: But he really is! He’s a really lonely hero. And I think heroes in general have to be lonely, you know, their identities are secret, they live these really solitary existences.

CS: Yeah, and the only ones that truly understand them are their counterpart villains. I mean, Batman is really just as crazy as they are; to dress up as a bat and jump around off of buildings? Right before we created Translucid I had this idea to do a Batman story, but they were always ‘else world’ vibes. One was more on the science fiction end where Arkham gets littered with this alien being and all of Batman’s Rogues Gallery gets transformed into these Geiger-esque renditions of themselves. Batman then has to pick up arms – which he hasn’t since around the very beginning – and basically execute all of these characters. And he has this inner monologue of him just talking about accepting that they were really the only friends he’s had. I mean he has Commissioner Gordon, but Gordon doesn’t understand him and really never knew him! So here we have Batman killing off his Rogues Gallery, who basically, I think, understand him the most!

CE: And I think that brings up another interesting point about the story of what we’ll eventually start to see as the issues unfold is that the Horse really wants to know that he knows everything about this person who he values so much. You know, because even they have their secrets and he doesn’t like that.

HA: So then how does the title Translucid fit into the story?

CE: The jumps through past and present, there’s a lot of hallucination involved. In the first issue you see that the Navigator gets stuck with a syringe of LSD basically. So ‘translucid’ means ‘to shine through.’C2E2-Variant

CS: But that’s the thing, the Horse is really trying to find the truth. And by the end, the truth shines through. He understands who his counterpart truly is and in understanding that he realizes there’s no going forward as a pair.

HA: What is working with such an illustrative artist such as Daniel Bayliss bring to the story?

CS: You know it’s just so exciting to find an artist that as you start submitting the scripts and they come back that it’s almost better than what you had envisioned. You know what I mean? But you kind of want that! You want to find an artist that you can give the freedom to do their thing. You don’t want to be too much of a dictator as a writer.

CE: Sometimes when you’re in the process of choosing an artist and you know how you want the story to look but it’s really hard to visualize that or to put it into words. So you kind of have to rely on your editors knowing where you’re going with it or just finding the magic person and this was exactly that!

HA: How does the writing process work with two writers working on one script?

CS: Well we come up with an outline first then try to detail that as much as possible, go back to the editor and they’ll help create the walls for the issue and help break it down. Normally I’ll go off and start working on something, Chondra will start scripting the bones and then we come together and we sort of give it skin.

tumblr_n3txa9EIRK1qchwdso1_r1_500CE: This is now our third title together. We’ve been together for a considerable number of years, so at this point you almost understand where you understand what each other wants; even in a bad way! I’ll put something in sometimes that I know he’s going to not like, you know? We try and sneak things past each other! But I think at the end of the day it’s really, really easy to communicate with somebody that you communicate about everything in life with and we really have fun with it.

CS: We do! It’s a lot of fun!

HA: Neither of you started your careers as comic creators. What keeps the two of you coming back to the medium?

CS: You know, I think for me it’s just that I grew up with comic books. My parents dressed us up in super hero T-shirts! I have pictures of me in onesies of the Incredible Hulk next to my brother wearing Superman. So it was just kind of always there. Eventually it became a thing where you would make pilgrimages on Wednesdays and things like that. I worked at a pet store right across the street from a shop – and that was around the time I started creating The Amory Wars and Coheed and Cambria – and a lot of those concepts were created inside that pet store and embellished on inside that comic shop! I always knew I wanted to tell some sort of visual component to the Coheed music and going to that comic shop really helped influence that idea.

CE: I actually came into comics through Claudio. He was always very passionate about it and I would look at scripts that he was working on for The Amory Wars. It was really kind of interesting to me; I was looking at this completely fresh take on writing and checking out the panels and the way things were laid out. So then at conventions you really have nothing else to do except look at books and I would come kind of as his wife and we would start picking up series like Y: The Last Man or Daytripper. Once we started working on stories together we started reading together to try and stay in touch with the medium. It’s such a great place to exist and a great medium to be creative in. So many cool people, so many talented people!EITransNOW

To get your own copy of Translucid #1 check out the below links!

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Under the Radar is a column where I, Heather Antos, interview comic creators, writers, and artists of all kinds about their talents, skills, and projects to come! If you know of a comic creator who is Under the Radar and waiting to be discovered by the comic industry, contact me: @HeatherAntos

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