20/06/2015

SONIC THE COMIC COVERS

Today, I thought I'd write about some covers from Sonic the Comic. I'm not sure why. Maybe I had a half-remembered dream about it. Maybe the internet's unending thirst for weird Sonic the Hedgehog fanart finally tipped me over the edge. Who knows?
If you're too young or not British enough to remember Sonic the Comic, it was "the UK's Official Sega Comic." I'm not sure if it ever had much penetration outside these sceptered isles, but for British kids it meant a fortnightly slice of cartoonish Sega action. Most of the strips focused on Sonic, naturally, but other Sega franchises were represented, including (somewhat surprisingly) a ton based on Decap Attack. I was never really into Sonic the Comic as a kid, mostly because I was never really a fan of Sonic, but I had a few issues here and there and I remember it being mostly enjoyable kid's comic stuff that really stretched out the premise of Sonic the Hedgehog, Well, there's not much plot in the original games beyond "run around a loop-the-loop, jump on a fat man," is there? Still, Sonic the Comic is fondly remembered by some, and to those people I issue an apology - I'm sorry if you think I'm being too harsh on StC, but just know that I only lash out at others to hide my own insecurities.


To establish a baseline, let's start at the start with Sonic the Comic issue one. It's pretty typical of the series' covers: a big picture of Sonic, bright colours and exclamation marks up the wazoo. It's all as you'd expect for a 1993 publication called Sonic the Comic. Two things stand out to me - okay, three things because the idea of a comic costing less than a pound is making me feel really old. The other two are the banner at the top that references Sega's "Cyber Razor Cut" advertising campaign - a set of commercials that imply you need to go to a barber / cybernetic enhancement clinic to be strong enough to handle the raw power of the Megadrive. There's an accompanying song with one of the worst forced rhymes I've ever heard, I wrote about it years ago. The other thing is the proud declaration that Sonic is "the world's most famous blue hedgehog!" Well, of course he is, he's the world's only blue hedgehog. I'm the most famous person currently writing a stupid article about old videogame comics, but that's a meaningless statement because I'm the only person doing that. At least I bloody well hope I am.


By the third issue this bold claim has been changed to "the world's fastest blue hedgehog!" See, that tagline suffers from the same problem, doesn't it?
The shark-piranha hybrid robots are admittedly quite cool, although I only bring them up so I can complain about the Sharkticons in Transformers being called Sharkticons despite being neither sharks nor Decepticons.


Sonic's default facial expression on these covers is "knowing smugness," even when he's failed to notice a squadron of robot eagle-planes swooping in behind him. Tails has spotted them, though, unless the artist captured him looking behind himself for the first time ever and realising he's a two-tailed mutant freak. As I say, I never really read Sonic the Comic as a kid but I'd be surprised if this very scene didn't play out many times, with Sonic not registering danger from inside his impervious bubble of self-satisfaction while Tails performs the usual sidekick role.


Blimey, that took a dark turn: Dr. Robotnik has decapitated Sonic and Tails and he's using their severed heads as Christmas decorations. And here you thought Robotnik was the "harmless buffoon" type of villain, not the "decorate his lair with the skulls of his fallen enemies" kind.
You might be wondering how Dr. Robotnik managed to cross over into the world of Looney Tunes and murder Porky Pig too, but that's not Porky Pig. It's an original Sonic the Comic character called Porker Lewis, which sounds like the nickname you end up with if you're a fat kid at Eton. Porker Lewis wears a leather jacket in the comics, and given that the world of Sonic the Hedgehog is filled with sentient animal-men Porker is in for an extremely awkward conversation when he eventually meets a cow-person.


You know, before the proliferation of the internet, "Sonic the Human" might well have been the strangest Sonic story ever told. Now it's not even a blip on the weird-o-meter. Also, for a character built around the concept of being cool I find it hard to believe that Sonic would dress in a crop-top and fingerless gloves, even during the mid-nineties. Maybe the bare midriff was intended to distract from his grotesquely oversized head, Newsflash, Sonic - it does not.


Speaking of clothes, Amy Rose features heavily in Sonic the Comic and she is always fully dressed, which only serves to highlight Sonic's nakedness. Thankfully Sonic put on some clothes to attend his wedding - you can see he's wearing a little bow tie to go with his gloves. I do hope he's also wearing a suit or something, otherwise he'll look like a Chippendale.


One thing you notice if you look at a lot of Sonic the Comic covers is that Sonic looks weird when viewed straight-on, his spines being rather difficult to illustrate from that viewpoint. Now you know why Sonic is blue - because if he was green, he'd look like a Christmas tree.


See? He just looks like he's got a bizarrely-shaped skull. Actually, the first time I saw this cover I though Sonic had sprouted wings and Knuckles was climbing out of a toilet. That'd be a much stranger Sonic story that Sonic the Human.


I would dearly love to believe that somewhere out there was a child who occupied the tiny overlap at the centre of a "Sonic the Comic reader / Wings fan" Venn diagram, and that said child laughed heartily at the "Bandage on the Run" pun.


No, it's fine, Sonic. Nobody else wanted to use that log bridge, you go right ahead and destroy it, you thoughtless jackass. What if Tails wanted to follow you across? Oh, right, he can fly. Well, what about Knuckles? Right, he can glide. Okay, maybe Amy Rose wanted to use it... but you want her to stay as far away from you as possible, of course. I give up, you've beaten me. Destroy as many log bridges as you like.


Note to self: start using "Welcome to the Pleasure Zone" as a chat-up line. Further study will be required to determine whether it's more effective if I point at my crotch while doing so.


Sonic is imprisoned, guilty of being the coolest hedgehog on the planet, a crime that I can't help but feel was forced onto the statute books solely to harass Sonic. It's not even necessary, either: surely there must be laws in place that mean Sonic can be arrested, if not summarily executed, simply for appearing in Sonic Underground?


"Yeah, I punched the floor so hard that it shattered. No big deal, it's just a cool thing I can do. No, it's not a dress, it's a poncho!"


More seasonal punishment from Dr. Robotnik, living up to his Eggman alter-ego by trapping Sonic and friends in a transparent Easter egg. It's a wonderful image, although I can't decide what I like best about it: that Robotnik shoved a bunny and a chick in there with Sonic to really hammer home the Easter theme, or that he took the time to pretty the whole thing up with a ribbon. Hang on, those gems on Robotnik's glove... is he wearing the Infinity Gauntlet? I demand that the next Avengers movie opens with Robotnik trapping Thanos in an Easter egg, stealing the Infinity Gauntlet and bellowing "I HATE THOSE HEROOOOES!"


"Hi folks, I'm Sonic the Hedgehog, the world's most famous blue hedgehog. Look at these idiots behind me. They're protesting at a statue. I think they think it's the real Dr. Robotnik. What a bunch of idiots. Chilli dogs, you're too slow, etcetera."


Look at Robotnik's forehead and eyes. Now look at them again. Looks like the underside of a human nose, doesn't it? Creepy.


"Mobius is afraid of me... I have seen its true face. The Zones are extended gutters and the gutters are full of blood and when the drains finally scab over, all the vermin will drown. The accumulated filth of all their sex and murder will foam up about their waists and all the badniks and Eggmen will look up and shout "Save us!"... and I'll look down and whisper "erm, I'll get Sonic, he's much better at that kind of thing."


It appears there were several attempts to make Tails look tough. None of them worked. This one is undermined by the fact that it looks like the sword is saying "Grrrr!" and not Tails. Tails looks like he doesn't have a bloody clue what's going on.


Again, I'm not buying Tails as a tough guy. He wasn't even in Sonic Underground, so he's innocent of that heinous crime. So what is he wanted for? Aggravated cuteness? Sidekicking with intent to quip? I suppose I could read the issue in question to find out, but that would feel like I had been defeated, somehow. Instead I'll just assume Tails is wanted for burning down an orphanage.

To finish, here is a collection of Tails' goofy facial expressions.


Tails did not come out of this article with much dignity, did he? And if those weren't goofy enough for you, I've got one left.


Hey Miles, maybe you should lay off the caffeine for a while? You look kinda wired. Jaunty, but wired.

12 comments:

  1. I was curious about the Golden Axe comics mentioned on several of the front covers, so I Googled, and the first image I got was this:

    http://stc.wikia.com/wiki/Citadel_of_Dead_Souls?file=001c.jpg

    I honestly was not expecting Tyris Flare to introduce herself with a Will Smith "Aw, _hell,_ no." Well, without the "hell," given the target demographic, but I can't say that the Will Smith line honestly wasn't the first thing that came to mind.

    (At least the Golden Axe comics seem to have OK art, unlike the magazine's presumable main attraction.)

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    1. Yeah, I definitely remember preferring the Golden Axe stuff to the Sonic stuff - and poor Tyris just sounds really fed up!

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  2. Wow, your Sonic comics were even crappier than ours. And WE had Ken Penders drawing ours!

    Anyway, the character of "Porker Lewis" did pop up in a few of the early issues of the Sonic US comic, back when Francis Mao (of GamePro infamy) was drawing them. He's a reference to a FOX television series that aired in the early 1990s, about a cool kid who regularly foils the schemes of his evil principal and her creepy vampire-like sidekick. If that reminds you of Ferris Bueller, you're not far off base. Parker Lewis Can't Lose also inspired the frantic cartoonish hijinx of later sitcoms like Scrubs. And that's your American pop culture history lesson for the day.

    I like how Amy regularly changes her outfits in this series. In the original games (before the Sonic Adventure reboot) she was just known for wearing a sweater and a pleated skirt, but here, she keeps her wardrobe fresh. Is she wearing cargo pants in one of these covers? Tres chic!

    Why did it take so long for Western artists to realize that Robotnik was wearing sunglasses and didn't literally have black sclera?

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    1. Huh, I really should have guessed that Poker Lewis' name was a reference to *something," it is rather incongruos with names like Knuckles otherwise. And yeah, Amy has quite the wardrobe! Those are indeed gargo pants, whe's got a very skater look going on sometimes.

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  3. "If you're too young or not British enough to remember Sonic the Comic, it was "the UK's Official Sega Comic." I'm not sure if it ever had much penetration outside these sceptered isles, [...]"

    In fact, Sonic the Comic was also available in Germany (see this scan of mine: http://pl.vc/5nek7 [Warning: big file size!]). I remember them very fondly from my childhood, even if some the stories didn't make very much sense and as such were mostly noncanonical, some even had no real SEGA connection (Mr. T) and / or had an ugly art style :)

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    1. Nice to know that other nations got to enjoy these masterpieces too - I don't remember a Mr. T comic though, I might have to look that one up.

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  5. I had a few of those comics from when it first came out. I remember thinking how rushed the artwork looked, and how some of the storylines were a bit ropey. Sonic's "bad boy" attitude was pretty embarrassing to read at times too, and I doubt anyone thought he was really cool. To be fair to the creators they were pretty obliging and open to suggestions for games that would make good comics. I remember the Golden Axe comic having a weird storyline where Axe Battler gets knocked out and is left for dead. The local villagers gather his unconscious body in order to watch it rot (honest I'm not making this up) but are dissapointed when he wakes. Axe tosses a gold coin at an old woman for some information saying calling her an "old crone", she responds by saying "bah coin don't rot like flesh do". It was so messed up I still remember it 22 years later. Hah "crone".

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    1. Ha ha, that sounds like an amazing Golden Axe story! Is there really that much fun to be derived from watching decomposition? I suppose in ye olden time you had to make your own fun...

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  6. A Parker Lewis parody? That right there is by far the worst Sonic-related thing ever, worse even than deviantart and its creepy fetish art.

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    1. Whoa whoa whoa, let's not go crazy, there's some *really* terrible creepy Sonic fetish art out there...

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  7. In Tails' defense, you don't really need to know what you're doing when you have a sword that actually growls.

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