Re: Aesop's fables, was Re: Behind The Scenes

From: <>
Date: Sun, 11 Feb 1996 13:00:59 -0500

This is in response to those who suggest a SONIC series geared toward older
readers while letting the younger readers have their version.

Economics is not the driving force here. The main factor is what is best for
the corporate interests. Let's start with Archie, because they're a basic,
bottom-line company. Archie is Disney, pure and simple. When they veer into
other things is comparable to Disney using Miramax or Touchstone or Hollywood
Pictures as a smokescreen to do non-traditional Disney fare. Disney is many
times bigger, granted, than Archie, but what both companies are founded on is
good, clean wholesome family fun. You KNOW what to expect from an Archie
comic. Even when he met the Punisher, it was Archie's established style that
set the tone for the book.

Then you have SEGA, which created SONIC as an answer to Nintendo's SUPER
MARIO. (Remember them?) Sonic became popular with game players of all ages,
especially kids, and so SEGA sought to cement that family image with a
product produced by Archie Comics. Not DC. Not Marvel. Not even Image or Dark
Horse. It wasn't until after Mike and I wrote "THIS ISLAND HEDGEHOG" guest
starring Knuckles that SEGA began re-evaluating their attitudes about how the
characters should be handled. We submitted a sequel to "TIH" titled simply
"RETURN TO THE FLOATING ISLAND", featuring more elements of the SONIC 3 game
that didn't make it into issue #13. SEGA put that story on-hold, as they were
trying to figure out how to market KNUCKLES to an older teen crowd. By this
time, especially with the Saturday morning cartoon rating really high with
the kids, it became clear that anything that featured SONIC and his pals was
going to be scooped up by the kid crowd. If we had put out a KNUCKLES book
aimed at an older teen crowd, the parents of the pre-teen set would be out
for blood, because here they would've bought a product they thought was
appropriate for their little ones. The people at Archie knew this and
resisted efforts to push toward the older crowd. Mike and I were among those
that supported Archie in this. Sure, it meant we couldn't do some things we
would have liked to, but it did force us to get more creative in our approach
to the material.

I have an 8-year-old son who was very much into SONIC, even before his dad
started writing the book. In fact, it was his interest that led me to take
the assignment of writing the stories. He's my barometer of what type of
stories to do and how far I can push the envelope. I also have many friends
with children who read the stories to their children. Their comments are
always carefully considered when I try to incorporate an idea or concept that
might be too "adult" for the book. I'm always striving for the balance.

If one chooses to, one can go back and reread the stories Mike and I have
done on a number of levels. For example, "IN THE STILL OF THE NIGHT", I had a
number of mothers read this story to see if we handled the subject of death
appropriately enough. Not one objected. Not one. On the other hand "FIRST
STAR I SEE TONIGHT" elicited knowing laughs from the same audience at the
appropriate moments. Then there's the concepts of other dimensions, parallel
universes, time travel and other science fiction staples. I try to make
certain the concept can be grasped easily enough by the non-science fiction
fan, but it gets tricky.

If this is not quite what you were hoping for, at least there is a book that
can be enjoyed with the possibility of expanding the envelope wherever and
whenever we can. (All within the boundaries of good taste, of course.)

Received on Sun Feb 11 1996 - 14:04:42 PST

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