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Wondercon 2018: Sonic the Hedgehog Town Hall

Sonic Panel 2018 1

Sonic Panel 2018 2

Left to right: Joe Hughes, David Mariotte, Tyson Hess, and Ian Flynn

Back in July, 2017, Sega moved their flagship character, Sonic the Hedgehog, from Archie Comics, where the publisher has been creating stories for over 24 years, to IDW Publishing. As the new publisher, IDW Publishing held their first Town Hall about the move at New York Comic Con back in October 2017 with several of the editorial staff to assure fans Sonic wasn’t going anywhere. At this year’s Wondercon, they held a second Town Hall, this time with some of the creators, and answered many of the fans’ burning questions.

Leading the panel was Sonic the Hedgehog editor Joe Hughes. He was joined by associate editor, and co-editor on Sonic, David Mariotte; head writer Ian Flynn; and cover artist and character designer Tyson Hess.

Sonic Panel 2018 3Jumping right into the news, Hughes announced that IDW would be releasing a new issue of the comic every Wednesday in April. All of the issues were written by Ian Flynn, but every issue would have a different artist and colorist. The first issue is done by veteran Archie Sonic artist Tracy Yardley and colorist Matt Herms. The story would be a re-introduction of the characters Sonic and his friend Tails. Issue #2 is drawn and colored by Adam Bryce Thomas, another Archie Comics veteran who first debuted in the original series. This second issue will feature Amy and will give her a different characterization than was seen in the Archie series.

Issue #3 is drawn by Jennifer Hernandez and colored by Heather Breckel. This issue sees the return of Knuckles and the introduction of the first IDW-created characters, Ruff and Tumble. These new characters are villains and were created to compliment Sonic and Knuckles’ buddy-combat style. Hughes described them as being similar to Rocksteady and Bebop from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comics, but about 12% smarter.

Sonic Panel 2018 5Evan Stanley pencils and inks and Matt Herms colors for issue #4. Evan is another artist from the Archie years, and this issue features the return of Blaze the cat from the Archie series as well as introducing another new character, this one a hero. Tangle is a ring-tailed lemur, an animal that hasn’t appeared in the Sonic universe yet. Her creation started with the original concept for Sonic, which was that he would be a rabbit with ears that could throw things. Tangle has a kung-fu style of fighting and is a bit of a Sonic fan.

Ian Flynn described the basic plot for this new Sonic the Hedgehog series. It is heavily inspired by the latest modern Sonic the Hedgehog video game, Sonic Forces, where Dr. Eggman has finally succeeded in taking over the World, and Sonic and his team form a resistance force to take it back. The comic series picks up in the aftermath. Dr. Eggman is nowhere to be found, but the remnants of his robot empire are still terrorizing the citizens, so Sonic and his friends are trying to clear them out. But, behind the scenes, there are hints of other forces at play. When creating the story, Flynn wanted to make sure there were things for old fans but also ensure that new fans who didn’t know anything about Sonic, other than he was blue and could run fast, could get on board as well.

Sonic Panel 2018 4The cover art will also feature both old and new artists. Nathalie Fourdraine is a new artist Hughes and Marriott discovered at practically the same time, while Rafa Knight and Kieran Gates are returning artists from the original series. While the others are doing variant covers for these first four issues, Tyson Hess did a series of four connecting covers. He spoke a little bit about the process and how it was difficult for this series, since each cover would feature only Sonic and one other character, so there wouldn’t be the variety these kinds of covers usually have. He also talked about designing the new characters Tangle, Ruff, and Tumble. Tangle wasn’t too difficult, since Flynn already had an idea of how he wanted her to look. But for Ruff and Tumble, Flynn only had characteristics, not looks. Hess went with skunks, with Tumble being an albino and missing much of his tail. There was a lot of going back and forth between IDW and Sega for the creation of these characters, where they learned one of the rules about Sonic characters: None of the males can wear pants.

Hints were dropped about issues 5 and 6, mostly about returning characters such as the Chaotix Detective Agency, Shadow the Hedgehog, and a certain round villain. After some promoting of a board game called Crash Course and a comics bundle that could be ordered, it was time for Q & A.

Sonic Panel 2018 6The first audience member asked if there would be additional writers joining the series. After joking that Flynn had at least eight years of stories plotted out, they confirmed that other writers, old and new, would be writing for the series. Another audience member asked about what kind of weird rules did Sega have that they had to follow. The “no pants” rule was brought up again, and Marriott also mentioned that Sonic can’t drink because he is underage. Other questions included whether characters other than Sonic would be the focus of future issues, which was affirmed, and whether any other humans than Dr. Eggman would appear in the series. Flynn said more might show up eventually, but since humans exist on a different world, it wouldn’t be anytime soon.

The panelists were asked who their favorite villains were, with Hughes claiming Metal Sonic, Marriott taking Infinite (the villain from Sonic Forces), Hess choosing Chaos from the Sonic Adventure 2 video game, and Flynn taking Dr. Eggman. Several questioners asked if characters from the Sonic Mania video game series would appear, but with Sonic Mania taking place in the canon universe, and the comic in the Sonic Forces universe, it would be up to Sega to decide.

This Town Hall ended up being very informative and entertaining. All of the panelists are fans of both the video games and Archie comic series. Fans at the panel were happy to hear characters from the Archie run would be returning. The announcement of the return of Chaotix got some claps and cheers. With such enthusiasm on both sides, it does appear as if the series is in good hands.

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Lori Henderson About Lori Henderson

Lori Henderson is a mother of two teenage daughters and an avid reader. She blogs about manga at her personal blog Manga Xanadu as well as contributing and editing for Manga Village. She blogs about all things fandom (mainly Doctor Who) at her other personal blog Fangirl Xanadu. She's been at it so for over 5 years now and counting!

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