How the Power of Fan Love Kept Archie's Sonic the Hedgehog Comic Alive for 24 Years

How the Power of Fan Love Kept Archie's Sonic the Hedgehog Comic Alive for 24 Years

STARTING SCREEN | The Sonic comic is dead. Long live the Sonic comic. Plus, Mega Man X music, Ready Player One trailer reactions, and strange things are afoot in Scarborough, Ontario.

Put on your most sombre scrunchie barret and queue up some moody Aerosmith music: Archie's Sonic the Hedgehog comic, a beloved staple of the '90s (and well beyond), is officially over and done.

Following a four-issue mini-series that was published in 1992, the Sonic the Hedgehog comic was published on a regular monthly schedule (including spin-offs and additional mini-series) from July 1993 through the end of 2016. In its 24 years of life, the comic series employed several writers, many artists, and became one of the longest-running comics in America.

Weep ye not for the speedy hedgehog, though. Shortly after the official Sonic the Hedgehog Twitter account announced the property's breakaway from Archie, it announced a new partnership with IDW, which already publishes comics based on Transformers, My Little Pony, and other licensed properties. There's a big push to bring overwhelming fan-favorite Sonic comic writer Ian Flynn to the IDW iteration of the Sonic comic.

Disclosure: I'm pals with Ian. But gosh, he did such a great job on Archie's Mega Man comic. Friend or not, keeping him on board is just good horse sense (or hedgehog sense, if you like).

It's rare for an American comic to run for 24 years, let alone without any kind of a hard reboot. The Sonic comic's longevity can probably be attributed to a perfect storm of timing, marketing, and – interestingly – a lack of decent source material.

The comic hit its stride just as the Sega Saturn arrived on store shelves. Long-lived Sonic fans no doubt remember the long Sonic drought that followed. The NiGHTS-like 3D platformer Sonic X-Treme was planned for the system, but ultimately ended up being a no-show.

The "X-TREME!" title belies the sad story behind this ill-fated Sonic game.

In fact, there wasn't a mainstream Sonic game between 1994's Sonic and Knuckles for the Sega Genesis and 1999's Sonic Adventure for the Dreamcast. Sonic material of any kind became scarce during that stretch of time, at least in North America. Even the two cartoons based on the games wrapped up and faded away.

From the mid- through- late-'90s, the only outlets for Sonic enthusiasts were Archie's series and, God bless 'em, fan shrines built on Geocities using web 1.0 tools. Sonic fans had their appetite whetted for decent storytelling through the Saturday morning Sonic the Hedgehog cartoon (fondly referred to as "SatAM" to distinguish it from the goofy, light-hearted alternate animated series that ran alongside it), it didn't take much cajoling to get fans on board with the comic's continuous storylines.

Granted, a lot of the storylines that ran through the '90s weren't great. It's the kind of stuff that seems water-tight when you're a kid, but when you look back as an adult, you see a lot of sloppy writing, loose threads, and derivative storylines. The stories were still good enough to hold fans' attention back in the day, plus they were extremely accessible: Archie peddled much of its fare on grocery store magazine racks, and you'll still find its vanilla digests there today.

Sonic fans made do in the '90s, with the help of the comics and Geocities.

Well, when one Special Zone closes, another one opens. Rest in peace, hedgehog. Long may you reign, hedgehog.

Nadia's Note Block Beat Box: Sigma Stage 1 (Mega Man X)

Say, seeing how I'm in the middle of reviewing the games parked on the upcoming SNES Classic, would anyone mind terribly if I focused on highlighting music from the games contained within?

I thought not!

Here's an SNES soundchip miracle: Sigma Stage 1 from Mega Man X. God bless that slap bass. Sigma Stage 1 might be one of the heaviest Mega Man songs ever composed (matched only by Sigma Stage 1 from Mega Man X5), as it should be: It's what accompanies you when you show up on Sigma's doorstep. It even starts over again immediately after Zero bites it in his attempt to save you from Vile. Hearing the song fire up once more while X stands alone just hits me where I live.

The song was re-composed for Maverick Hunter X on the PSP. It doesn't carry the same weight as the original, but I do love those trumpets. It's Judgement Day, baby.

Game music composer and remixer Savaged Regime recently retooled the Mega Man X soundtrack for the Genesis soundchip. What do you think?

Mike's Media Minute

Over the weekend at San Diego Comic-Con, Warner Bros finally showed off the trailer Steven Spielberg's Ready Player One, based off the best-seller of the same title by Ernest Cline. The book and the film tell the story of Wade Watts, a game player in the future where everyone, poor and rich alike play a vast Second Life-style virtual reality style game. Virtual reality meets Willy Wonka meets pretty much every 80's and 90's reference you can think of.

The trailer is a bit confusing. Outside of the voice over, it's a bit of everything, showing of the virtual reality world and all the references and easter eggs to make video game fans ga-ga. But, that's all it is. It's conceptually the same as Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets - or from many years ago, Sucker Punch - a big visual push that might not be as strong as a film. I feel like it'll do better than those films, but I admit my excitement is muted currently.

It doesn't help that Spielberg's name is no longer a guaranteed thing these days. The BFG, which to all indications was a faithful adaptation of the book, grossed a whole $183 million on a production budget of $140 million. It was as real a flop as film flops come these days. I'm hoping Spielberg has gone in added a bit more heart and character to the overall film than was there in the book. I hope it goes well for him.

Caty’s AltGame Corner

Scarborough is a quaint little suburb in Toronto. But there's an unseen gloom there, a gloom that casts a fog over everyone. Little Red Lie is a bleak, bleak game from Will O'Neill, the creator behind the haunting Actual Sunlight. It's an adventure game reduced from the usual bare minimum verbs to a single one: lie. Every interaction you partake in is a lie; whether to yourself, or to others. As Actual Sunlight unflinchingly looked at depression and suicide, so does Little Red Lie with debt, family, and the inherent lies we tell ourselves and our loved ones every day. Little Red Lie is available on PC and Mac for $9.99, and it's well worth a play.

Matt’s Monday Mornings

San Diego Comic-Con was this weekend, and I spent a good portion of mine keeping up with the announcements coming out of the convention. Justice League looks cool, but I still have a hard time getting excited for a movie that will most likely not be very good. Apparently Joss Whedon is getting a full co-director credit on it, but that sort of just makes me think that the film's tone and direction will be further muddled.

Actually, the thing I'm probably most excited about is Thor: Ragnarok which probably had the best trailer coming out of the convention. Easily my most anticipated superhero movie of the fall.

I also checked in on the Pokemon Go Fest in Chicago, but that turned out to have maybe been a mini disaster. I genuinely hope that the next time Niantic hosts a festival they'll be prepared for technical difficulties because other reports seem to say that the attendees really did have a good time playing with one another.

This Week's News and Notes

  • The first Pokémon GO fest had major technical issues, leading Niantic to admit it's "horrified" at how badly things turned out. Things certainly didn't go well, but isn't "horrified" a strong word? If there was a Lord of the Flies-style revolt and people started mounting Spoink heads on sticks as a dark tribute to Giratina, that would be horrific. Anyway, Niantic is trying to make things right.
  • PlayerUnknown's Battleground is fueled, like fire. Start melting ladies and gentlemen because it's hotter than hot, it's hot Hot HOT!
  • Splatoon 2 was big news over the weekend, but players didn't just tear everything down with neon-hued ink. They took a little time to create, too.
  • Special shout-out to those of you on Twitter who helped me finalize my party choices for Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age. Here's the final tally: Vaan is an Archer / White Mage, Penelo is an Uhlan / Foebreaker, Balthier is a Monk / Shikari, Fran is a White Mage / Archer, Basch is a Bushi / Red Mage, and Ashe is a Time Battlemage / Black Mage. Don't bother telling me "Ya screwed it all up, Oxford!" because it's not like I can change my mind on any of this biz.

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Nadia Oxford

Staff Writer

Nadia has been writing about games for so long, only the wind and the rain (or the digital facsimiles thereof) remember her true name. She's written for Nerve,, Gamepro, IGN, 1UP, PlayStation Official Magazine, and other sites and magazines that sling words about video games. She co-hosts the Axe of the Blood God podcast, where she mostly screams about Dragon Quest.

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