Coheed and Cambria, a band from New York, that formed in 1995 made an extraordinary move in the word of adaptation. The band’s music is tightly connected to the comic book series created by lead singer Claudio Sanchez. But Coheed and Cambria isn’t the first band to dive into this world of multiple adaptations of their music. From songs to music videos to comic books to stage presence and even to promotional vignette video clips, the world of “The Armory Wars” lives throughout the multiple forms of production. With a rise in the graphic novel and comic book interest, it is interesting to witness how a band has incorporated an idea into comic, music, and video form, engaging in transmedia storytelling. When examined more closely, Coheed and Cambria’s decision effects how someone experiences the world created.
What makes the multiple versions of Coheed and Cambria’s idea stand out against other musicians who have tried to carry their presence over into the world of comics is the decision not to create a comic book where the band members are the characters of the work, moving around through the pages (Nagy). Evie Nagy gives the tow options bands have. The other option “today means a lot more than turning your band into a superhero” (Nagy). Taking it further, Nagy quotes Virgin Comics CEO Sharad Devarajan by explaining that moving to the comic book medium is giving the artist and band “another playing field to create [their] lyrics. Let’s create something totally new–a fictional property defined by [the band], but like [their] music, will exist for generations beyond [them]” (Nagy). This is accomplished by Coheed and Cambria in much of their music. For example, the album Good Apollo, I’m Burning Star IV Volume 1:From Fear Through the Eyes of Madness. With songs such as “Welcome Home” and “Ten Speed (Of God’s Blood and Burial)” there is direct connections to the comic. When a reader is going from frame to frame in the comic Good Apollo, I’m Burning Star IV, Volume One: From Fear Through the Eyes of Madness, things jump out and click in the reader’s mind because of the multiple times they occur in the songs. Erica Court, an important character for the sins she committed against the main character The Writer, comes in and out in songs such as “the Suffering” and in moments of the comic where The Writer is remembering her and the pain of her infidelity, which causes him to inflict pain the characters he is writing. The importance of writing is clear throughout each media form of “The Armory Wars.” With a character named The Writer who is in a struggle with the story he is writing and the negative effects on his characters as his own issues affect his writing, it is difficult not to see the importance.
Adaptation crosses into the world of transmedia storytelling. “[Transmedia storytelling] is a particular narrative structure that expands through both different languages (verbal, iconic, etc.) and media (cinema, comics, television, video games, etc.). TS is not just an adaptation from one media to another. The story that the comics tell is not the same as that told on television or in cinema; the different media and languages participate and contribute to the construction of the transmedia narrative world” (Scolari 587). It is not a matter of whether the comic version of the music is better than the other but how it continues the world Coheed and Cambria singer and guitarist Claudio Sanchez dreamed up. With such multiple ways to soak up the story, “The Armory Wars” comics, such as Good Apollo (whether volume one or two), and the lyrics to the songs and the promotional videos released to promote the album all come together to give different experiences. Whether read, listened to, or watched, a person crosses media boundaries when engaging in the world the band produced. It is still important to notice that each part is its own creation and therefore, “each transmedia extension can stand on its own as an individually enjoyable entity” (Long 18). This can sometimes be forgotten by those not wrapped up in the entire adaptation universe of something such as the Coheed and Cambria and “The Armory Wars” relationship. It is uncommon for people who are only aware of a few versions, such as music and the music videos, to understand how only these things are linked and separate at the same time. Long makes a claim that “there is often a noticeable aesthetic difference between those transmedia narratives that were designed with transmedia in mind and those that weren’t” (Long 19), which comes across as only being applicable on a case to case basis. In regards to Coheed and Cambria and their many adaptations, there is an ability to enjoy the comic without realizing there were songs that connect to it and vice versa. As a person who listened first to the music and later was made aware of the comics, there is a personal bias to regard Long as being incorrect in applying his statement to all works that are transmedial and were intended to be so from the beginning.
Marsha Kinder targeted music videos, specifically rock music videos. “One of the most compelling aspects of rock video is its power to evoke specific visual images in the mind of the spectator every time one hears the music with which they have been juxtaposed on television. The experience of having watched and listened to a particular video clip on television establishes these connections in the brain circuitry” (Kinder 3) that when combined with already present images from the comic book or ideas a listener gets from hearing just the songs, amplifies the experience. While Kinder went on to speak more specifically about MTV and the effect of music videos, her work still can be applied to the idea of transmedia. Watching a music video online or on television reinforces the ideas of the song. In the case of “Welcome Home,” it reinforces the idea of the comic through images seen through frames in the music video. Someone watching that video is already experiencing adaptation of comic book and music and video.
Through multiple layers and various ways to experience Coheed and Cambria as well as “The Armory Wars,” readers, listeners, concertgoers, etc. participate in the transmedia aspect. In this case, the multiple mediums allows for further worldbuilding by the creators (Coheed and Cambria and Claudio Sanchez) as well as more to explore. Each version can stand alone but also interacts with another and all parts. Rather than simply being different adaptations with different spins (such as the various adaptations of of Alice in Wonderland), the work of Coheed and Cambria creates a world that the creators can contribute to, keeping it their idea.
The two videos have standard YouTube licenses and were used to provide information on the adaptations of Coheed and Cambria’s music. The images were also provided for the same use.
Kinder, Marsha. “Music Video and the Spectator: television, Ideology and Dream.” Film Quarterly 38.1 (1984): 2-15. 30 Apr. 2012.
Long, Geoffrey A. “Transmedia Storytelling: Business, Aesthetics and Production at the Jim Henson Company.” Massachussettes Institute of Technology. 2007:2-183. 30 Apr. 2012.
Nagy, Evie. “Geek Love.” Billboard 24 May 2008. 30 Apr. 2012.
Scolari, Carlos Alberto. “Transmedia Storytelling: Implicit Consumers, Narrative Worlds, and Branding in Contemporary Media Production.” International Journal of Communication 3 (2009): 586-606. 30 Apr. 2012.