Well, one thing people have been wondering ever since Ian Flynn became head writer over at the Sonic the Hedgehog comic is…well, what do his predecessors think? Ken Penders, who worked on the Sonic comic for over a decade, finally spoke his mind over on his forum yesterday.
Reading everyone’s comments leave me with the impression neither Mike Pellerito or Ian really know what to do with either the characters or the stories beyond regurgitating what came before.
I haven’t commented on any of this earlier because I believed it was too soon and I didn’t want to be accused of sour grapes or stealing Ian’s thunder. The fact is I get e-mail all the time asking me about this character or that storyline, and it leaves me scratching my head wondering if Ian has ever attempted going beyond what any of us did, if he’s created a character like a Julie-Su or a Geoffrey St John, or if he’s written something like an ENDGAME or THE DARK LEGION that people are still talking about years later.
The fact is I never relied on any other Archie-Sonic writer’s material for any of my stories, not even when I was working with Mike Kanterovich. I would always come up with the basic plots and Mike would throw in bits to improve them, then we would work on the dialogue. I didn’t rely on Mike Gallagher’s material to drive my stories, nor did I ever pay attention to anything Karl was doing beyond supplying him with bits of info whenever he was incorporating one of my characters into his stories. A thorough check of my work will show I never used a Karl-created character until I used Mina in SONIC #150, due more to a conversation with Mike P when working out the plot. Likewise, Athair may have appeared with the Ancient Walkers in the TAILS mini-series written by Mike Gallagher, but I had serious input with regards to Athair’s development before Mike G wrote that story, as I had with the young Knuckles story that appeared in SONIC SUPER SPECIAL #9, wherein I was handed a copy of the script and told to make whatever changes necessary in order for it to fit continuity as I saw it at the time. Otherwise, beyond the core characters established in the original games and animated DiC series in the early 90′s, as well as the settings of Robotropolis and Knothole Village, and a character or two like Lupe and Amy Rose, I pretty much engaged in serious world building to keep the series interesting in the long run. I didn’t hesitate to push for killing off Robotnik and fighting to keep him dead, thus allowing Sonic to find new adversaries and new adventures. The map of Mobius I designed for SONIC SUPER SPECIAL #2 was so I’d always have a jumping off point for Sonic to have some new adventure or a new threat to engage him.
Ian, on the other hand, hasn’t done any of that from what I see and hear. In fact, many of the stories that appeared in issues #160 through #175 were based off an outline I submitted to Mike Pellerito around the time I turned in the script to SONIC #157. I didn’t pay attention until I caught the issue where Antoine married Bunnie, which was either the exact issue I slated the story for or off just by an issue or two in the outline I submitted. I never bothered to mention it until now because I didn’t see the point. All I had was an outline that could be claimed by some to be written after the fact, resulting in a pointless flame war because some would claim I was jealous or resentful.
The fact is I’m extremely happy where my life has led to these days. Not everyone gets the experience I do directing a film in Hollywood with real stars and trying to sell it to the studios and networks. My tenure on SONIC alone has given me serious street credit in this town and opened some very unexpected doors. I have nothing to be resentful over and much to be grateful for.
So from where I sit, all Mike and Ian are doing is living off the work done by others that came before them instead of allowing SONIC to grow and evolve in a similar organic manner when I was on the book. I especially don’t consider anything either does with any of the echidna characters – especially Locke – to be canon as neither created the characters nor established them in stories as the viable fan favorites they’ve become. No matter what Ian writes, he can never alter the fact that in MY universe, the events of Locke’s passing as depicted in SONIC #143 is canon. Anything he writes can easily be counter-written by a better story with an alternative solution.
I would like to request that everyone posting in the comments section to keep in mind that these people actively use and read the internet. This means any flaming you do will likely be read by them. I’d like you all to respect both creators in the comments section. Thank you. I would also like to request that no one go to either creator’s forum for the expressed purpose of flaming. Be respectful, please.
Update: Flynn has since responded both on his board and the comments section of this news post, with the following:
In the interest of accuracy, I would like to contribute the following:
Mr. Penders is mistaken in his assumption that we used material he had prepared before his departure from the book. All stories and the over-all story direction was of my own creation. Specifically, the marriage of Antoine and Bunnie was the logical progression of their relationship, and was meant as a strong positive “high note” to be juxtaposed with the tragedy of STH#175.