With the news that SEGA of America and Paramount have dated the release of the first Sonic the Hedgehog feature film for November 2019, we’re wondering if we might see the character return to British comics. The character once enjoyed a lively history – not least in the UK, where Sonic the Comic once ruled newsagents shelves.
SEGA of America and Paramount Pictures announced they’ve finalised an agreement to co-produce a Sonic the Hedgehog feature film recently, with a planned release date in the US of 15th November 2019, before rolling out to international markets around the world.
The film is planned as a CG animation meets live-action feature, brought to life by MARZA Animation Planet, a production arm of SEGA itself and Paramount Pictures will work closely with SEGA of America to bring Sonic to the big screen.
It’s another step for the Sonic toward even greater global recognition, building on his fame as an animated character on television, consumer products, console and mobile games – and, of course, comics.
Earlier this month, US publisher IDW announced it was launching new comic book adventures in partnership with SEGA, which will be available in comic shops, starting with a four-issue mini series that will kick off with a new issue each and every Wednesday during April.
Following the release of the first four issues, the ongoing series will continue on a monthly release schedule from May onward.
Longtime Sonic scribe Ian Flynn has been tapped as the series writer, whose contributions to the Sonic comic mythos cannot be overstated and his return to the franchise has been met with overwhelming fan approval. Flynn will be joined by a stable of talented artists, some who will be familiar faces to readers, and others who will be making their Sonic comics debut.
Among those contributing to the first four issues are Tracy Yardley (interior art on issue 1), Adam Bryce Thomas(issue 2), Jennifer Hernandez (issue 3), Evan Stanley (issue 4), Tyson Hesse (main covers), Nathalie Fourdraine (variant covers), Rafa Knight (variant cover), Jamal Peppers (variant cover), Jonathan Gray(variant cover), and Sonic Mania artist Kieran Gates (variant cover).
But what about the UK news stand? Surely this is a character with the kind of visibility worthy of a launch in newsagents?
Sonic the Hedgehog was first seen in 1991 on the SEGA Genesis. The character’s first comic appearance was in a promotional comic printed in the US title Disney Adventures magazine (and also given away as a free pull-out with a copy of Mean Machines magazine), which established a backstory for the character involving the origin of his colour and abilities and the transformation of kindly scientist Dr. Ovi Kintobor into the evil Dr. Ivo Robotnik.
A number of British publications followed, including Fantail’s Stay Sonic: The Official Sega Handbook in 1993, four novels published by Virgin Books and, most importantly, Sonic the Comic published by Fleetway Publications and Egmont Publishing and between 1993–2001.
While there have been other Sonic comics published by Archie Comics and Sirène in France, and two different manga, it’s the fortnightly Sonic the Comic, edited variously by Deborah Tate, Andy Diggle and, later, Steve MacManus, that stands out for so many fans, even inspiring an online continuation.
The title was the UK’s official Sega comic, featuring stories about its mascot Sonic the Hedgehog and related characters, as well as comic strips based on other Sega video games, and featured work by creators such as Nigel Dobbyn, Richard Elson, Carl Flint (who drew over 50 covers), Nigel Kitching, Mike McMahon, Mark Millar, Dave Windett and many, many more.
It’s much missed and any chance of a return I’m sure would be welcomed.
As for the upcoming film, there’s a lot of enthusiasm for the project already.
“I am very honoured that our companies, SEGA and MARZA, have this incredible opportunity to partner with Paramount Pictures for this production, which will bring Sonic to the big screen for the first time,” said SEGA Holdings Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Haruki Satomi.
“Since he was first introduced to the world 26 years ago, Sonic has continued to grow in popularity as part of our core strategy to focus on video games. In addition to video games, this provides SEGA with a fantastic opportunity to share Sonic with everyone and we can’t wait to reveal more to eager audiences in the future.”
Jim Gianopulos, chairman and CEO of Paramount Pictures, said: “We are incredibly excited to work with SEGA to bring this iconic property and character to audiences around the world. We look forward to our partnership on this great venture.”
Cartoonists such as Abigail Ryder have done work for this online fan site, although she tells us it was some years ago now. “The STC creators were a massive influence for me,” says Abigail.
• Sonic the Hedgehog Official Site: www.sonicthehedgehog.com
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The founder of downthetubes, John describes himself as is a "freelance comics operative", currently working as a freelance editor for TITAN COMICS, as Creative Consultant on the new DAN DARE audio adventures for B7 Media, and on promotional work for the LAKES INTERNATIONAL COMIC ART FESTIVAL and LANCASTER COMICS DAY.
John has worked in British comics publishing for over 30 years, starting out at Marvel UK, where he edited a number of the Genesis 1992 books with Paul Neary. His numerous credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine at Marvel and Star Trek Magazine and Babylon 5 Magazine at Titan Magazines, where he was Managing Editor.
He also edited STRIP Magazine and worked as an editor on several audio comics for ROK Comics, including TEAM M.O.B.I.L.E. and THE BEATLES STORY.
Most recently he is writing CRUCIBLE as a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz, published on Tapastic; and DEATH DUTY and SKOW DOGS with Dave Hailwood for the digital comic 100% Biodegradable.