Kill Audio by Claudio Sanchez

Kill Audio is a 208 page graphic novel written by Claudio Sanchez, with artwork by Chondra Echert and Sheldon Vella (Mr Sheldon). It was cautiously lent to me, as the style and content are much stranger and darker than some of Claudio’s other writings, even considering the fact that most of his stuff is weird and dark. For background info, Claudio Sanchez is the lead singer of prog-rock band, Coheed and Cambria, which has a rich story written with a corresponding graphic novel to each album (all but two). Sanchez almost always focuses on music and its power in his books, and Kill Audio is no exception.

Kill Audio Alternate CoverThe story of Kill Audio is set in Sight and Sound, which I believe is a city–there are other places referenced, so I’m not positive about how it actually fits in the world. Sight and Sound was created by Clockwork, the mechanical being on the top half of the cover (featured below), who is in charge of the members of the Void. The Void is comprised of four created siblings who are devoid of creativity. They are four siblings featured in the cover to the right, known as, clockwise, Art Murder, Writ End, Kill Audio, and Demise O’Drama. These four are in charge of policing creativity in Sight and Sound.

Kill Audio (KA) is the main character of the book, featured on the lower half of the cover (the alternate cover featured below) with a blade in his head, which refers to his immortality. The “Fixler” is a mechanical-looking man who has it in his head that he must “fix” KA’s immortality. In the meantime, KA gets together a strange group of compatriots–a living hip-hop pillow, a skeleton in a beaver costume, and a drunk newspaper–in order to find his purpose in Sight and Sound. When musical chaos spirals out of control, spawning, for example, six “progressive” sub-genres, KA and his friends search for the fathers of the original genres to bring order back to music.

The characters, especially the Void, were really fun to read about. Even though they are “devoid of creativity,” they are still wonderfully creative characters, with fascinating ties to their respective subjects (art, written word, music, drama). By the end of the novel, I also felt that the “side-kick” characters even deserved quite a bit of empathy and contemplation. The pillow and the beaver skeleton had a running commentary about music that was a fun little side story.

There were many references to music, not surprisingly, that were quite enjoyable. However, there were also plenty of references that I’m aware went over my head. Claudio at least provided a “recommended listening” list at the end of the story, which had some of the songs that had lyrical references throughout the story. I know I missed some of the background ideas that framed the story, but I believe I still got the meaning.

I can’t talk about a graphic novel without talking about the art. On the musical side, there are lyrics that weave in and out of panels, evoking the meaning of the songs and KA’s mental state. The imagery of character and scene are dark and bloody, as is KA with the knife cleaving his skull on the cover suggests. Much of the book seems jumbled and cluttered, which fits KA’s mental chaos. This makes for great contrast when one panel takes up a whole page, or even two pages, to make one narrative point. It’s like taking a step back and seeing a bigger picture, which is really KA’s goal throughout the story. Considering the content, the artwork is fantastic.

Overall, the crazy story and bloody art are fascinating. Although I found myself questioning some things, like the coked-out chicken, the end of the story brought everything together and showed some great depth of character for KA. It was a fun, relatively quick read. If you’ve never read any of Sanchez’s work, or aren’t comfortable jumping into graphic novels, I wouldn’t recommend this. However, if you’re creatively inclined, this is a must read. It’s a thought-provoking journey about creative censorship and control.

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