Behind The Scenes

From: <>
Date: Thu, 8 Feb 1996 21:03:06 -0500

After reading several of the postings and checking out some of the SONIC
web-sites, as one of the main writers (and sometime artist) on Archie's SONIC
series, I thought I'd give a behind-the-scenes peek of what goes on in the
making of a typical issue.

Actually, there isn't any such animal as a typical issue, as each story is a
unique entity unto themselves. We're always trying to come up with something
different, fun and exciting that tops what we've already done. Hopefully,
people are going to have fun and enjoy the finished work when it comes out.

Readers have inquired into many aspects about the world of SONIC, especially
aspects of the characters and the continuity of the stories as they relate to
each other. Mike Kanterovich and I have always taken the attitude that
writing SONIC and his friends should be approached as if we were writing
BATMAN or SPIDER-MAN. That is, this a character that people like and we are
just mere chroniclers of his adventures. We never treat it as if it were just
another job, or "only" a funny animals story.

There are some aspects in writing the book that are simply beyond the control
of the editors at Archie Comics or we the writers. SEGA has the final say on
everything, even if they contridict themselves. I've recently seen SONIC
comics that were produced in Britain. My initial reaction ranged from one of
envy, because for many and various reasons, we simply can't do stories like
that for Archie, no matter how much we may want to, to feelings of disbelief,
that SEGA would allow stories published where SONIC appears so "off-model".
If you only knew how many times the artists at Archie have been told to
correct the spines on SONIC because the drawings looked off-model, and then
along comes offically approved stories that feature drawings that came out of
a Mike Gallagher script. (No disrepect to Mike is intended or inferred, as
I'm sure he'd be the first one to agree.)

One aspect that's been very difficult to handle has been the issue of
continuity. Mike and I have always tried to keep our stories within the
established framework while adding new pieces to the puzzle, so to speak, and
in the course of producing SONIC'S adventures, it's just not possible to be
aware of what every writer on every SONIC story is up to, so there are going
to be inconsistencies from time to time. I've just turned in the script for
issue #44. There's a chance I may have to make a revision or two based on
what occurs in #43. (The scripts I turned in for #38 and 39 were pushed back
to #41 and 42, respectively.) Right now, I've submitted a plot synopsis for
ENDGAME, a four issue spectacular that begins in issue #47 and concludes in
#50, with an ending that changes the status quo in SONIC considerably. As a
matter of fact, a harbinger of things to come can be found in SONIC #36 as
well as the KNUCKLES mini-series.

Speaking of KNUCKLES, I'd like to clarify a point here for the confused and
frustrated. The 2-page stories as seen in issues #31 through #33 were NOT
part of the story originally. The 8-page stories you will see in #34 through
36 WERE what was SUPPOSED to be there. What happened was this:

Comics are solicited to the comics shop months ahead of time. Retailers place
their orders based on what they believe they can sell. Whatever they order,
they HAVE to buy. If Archie promises a KNUCKLES story in an issue of SONIC,
and the retailer orders the book based on the information he has been
provided with, and the book appears with NO KNUCKLES story, then the retailer
can return the book. With me so far? Okay then. Archie promised KNUCKLES
stories in SONIC #31 through #33. AFTER these books were solicited to the
retailers, word came in that a traditionally NON-COMICS BIG TIME retailer
wanted to carry the KNUCKLES MINI-SERIES. The ONLY way this could be done was
if the series release date was PUSHED BACK three months. Scott Fulop, then
editor of SONIC, had only days to turn in issue #31 to the printers. He had
to make a decision and he had to make it quick. There WASN"T any way he could
get an all-new story written and drawn and APPROVED BY SEGA in under a week's
time. It's just NOT possible. So he asked Mike and I to do two-page fillers
to keep the story going so we could by-pass the process in having to get
another story approved. Since 2 pages was all that could be written,
pencilled, lettered, inked and colored in the alloted time in order to get
#31 to the printers, it was decided to stick to that format for the next two
issues. Nobody was happy with this. Scott, Mike and I anticipated that
readers would feel cheated with this, but we hope when they get to the full
stories, all will be forgiven.

I've received some mail on the stories we do, and I've found that writing for
SONIC is quite a balancing act. Take "Sonic Shot" in issue #33, for instance.
For the most part, the younger readers liked it, while some adults thought it
bland. In this case, I'd have to go with the opinions of the younger readers
because it was they who inspired the story and for whom it was intended. For
those who criticized that some parts stretched credulity because, for
example, it wasn't possible for Robotnik to communicate with SONIC as shown,
my answer is this. I only had EIGHT pages to play with. I decided to focus on
plot, pacing, fun and sportsmanship. If I had a page or two more, I could've
gone into more detail, but sometimes part of what gets you through a story is
by letting the readers fill in the blanks. While Mike and I generally go for
a more middle-of-the-road approach in aiming the stories at both younger and
older readers, the fact of the matter is that a LOT of SONIC readers are
primarily a younger audience, and once in awhile we'll do something
specifically for them.

If anyone has questions they'd like to field my way, feel free to do so. If
you have story ideas for submission to Archie, by all means, I encourage you
to try. You may get lucky. One word of caution: we're in the midst of
planning stories that take us to issue #60. No scripts have been planned or
written after #50 as yet, but issue #50 does present some really special
surprises in store for the readers, so any writer interested in submitting
should be prepared to make whatever changes necessary to the story to conform
with the continuity as it's being set up. (And no, I'm not going to give the
game away at this point.)

Take care and thanks for your interest.

Received on Thu Feb 08 1996 - 21:50:08 PST

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.3.0 : Thu Mar 19 2015 - 12:17:03 PDT