Ken Penders speaks his mind on Ian Flynn’s performance on the Sonic comic, updated with Flynn’s comments

Ken Penders speaks his mind on Ian Flynn’s performance on the Sonic comic, updated with Flynn’s comments

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.

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Alex Peal has been an editor at Sonic Stadium since 2007, and has been covering events like E3, PAX, and SDCC since 2010. An avid retro gamer, he runs a monthly stream on Twitch where he explores obscure Sonic oddities, and how aspects of the franchise have evolved over the decades.


  1. Alright, just to make sure everyone catches what I requested in the end of the news post (I know most of you SKIM, lazy blaggards), I would also like to request here that no one flames either creator here, or on their respective forums. BE RESPECTFUL to both, please. I posted this strictly in the interest of the fans, not so that people can get all angry and start nonsense with the creators. PLEASE don’t make me regret putting this up, thanks.

  2. I will say this, and this is not a flame, but a stern criticism.

    Ken has no idea what a writer who has to do to write for a continuous and shared universe, or how to build off and advance a cast of characters that both exist and has to evolve.

    At best, it’s asking too much of Ian to expect him not to use the characters the comic universe has provided.

    At worst, it is selfish and asks WAY too much of Ian Flynn and the writers that have followed after him. Hell, he is passive aggressive about the role of his fellow writers from the book’s previous era.

    This is egomaniacal. Flat out.

  3. Intresting, I can see where he is coming from, their hasn’t been anything really new introduced for a while now in the comics that hasn’t at least been partialy established in older issues. However I feel the comics have recently had very intresting stories that have kept me wanting more so ian must be doing something right.

  4. Ken also said this…

    “Besides, at this point, if I were to go back to working on something like SONIC, I’d pretty much pick up where I left off, ignoring everything that came after since, which was pretty much what I was in the process of doing so after Karl left, which Mike allowed as he was unhappy with the direction Karl had taken the book. This is not to be taken as a knock on Ian’s work whatsoever. The only work I consider significant to any character is the work done by the original creators. Anything done afterwards by anyone else pretty much doesn’t count. For example, I consider the original issues of FANTASTIC FOUR by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby to be the only stories that matter in the entire run. Anything being done today is by writers and artists who are simply building off the work Stan and Jack originated. I apply this standard to just about every character I ever enjoyed over the years.”

    I feel this would be VERY disrespectful to Ian and would destroy any kind of cannon or continuity that has been built up at this time. You can’t just ignore what has come before just because you don’t like it. Also, SONIC is a licensed comic. You don’t own the characters you create. Nor should you ignore what has become before as it will create huge continuity errors. Such as Rotors “love-then-hate” of firearms.

    I can understand his feelings on Locke. That was his favorite character he created and one of mine. I’d have preferred Ian killed off the fireant instead, but what’s done is done.

    That said, I think Ken’s a great guy. I’ve met with him several times at comic con, and I loved his work on Knuckles.

  5. “I don’t like how he did this so I’m going to act like it never happened”? This is why I can’t stand canonfags. >_>

    It happened, he’s dead, he at least died a beneficial and worthwhile death and did one last thing for Knuckles. Quit crying Ken. -.o

    I happen to be enjoying the comics immensely right now. I don’t care how the hell the plots were made, I just care that it gets made so I have something to be entertained with. The only thing that really matters are the results, and from what I’ve seen in the results, people are rather satisfied with things.

    Well, most people anyways. :3

  6. I’ve met Ken at Comic-Con too, which was a huge geek moment for me. And while I quite liked him when I met him, I don’t really approve of what he has to say here. He seems awfully bitter and resentful. I think that the quality of the comic in the last few years has definitely improved, especially from say, issue #175. Compared with what the comics were like back between issues #100 and #125, they’re much more enjoyable. I do understand how he could be upset about the killing off of Locke, but the rest strikes me as… well, like he said, sour grapes.

  7. It sounds like Ken IS resentful. He admits he hasn’t read any of the comics Ian has written since he took over and is basing his opinion on what he has seen and heard from others. (which on his own message board tilt to those that wish for him to return) He should have at least read the issues before posting this wall of text.

  8. Sounds like both these guys could do with learning a thing or two from Nigel Kitching 🙂

    STC forever!

  9. I can respect Pender’s view, but in all honesty, I think Ian’s been doing a brilliant job so far. I can understand Penders not wanting it to sound like he’s sour, but the part where he says that ANYTHING IAN WRITES can apparently be counter-written DOES come off as sour. It seems that Pender’s work could be reversed as well if Ian so wished, although I know that he respects what’s been set down because Ian’s not the kind of writer to destroy a previous canon in the main universe. And Pender’s saying he would completely ignore Ian’s canon comes off as EXTREMELY harsh.

    Ken Penders made some great stories and I highly respect him for them, but Ian’s doing the job just fine and if Penders is truly happy with how his life is leading, then he won’t step on any other writer’s toes and let the sales figures do the talking. Fact is that I prefer Ian, I’m just sayin’

  10. That guy is an arrogant jerk. I’ll be honest, I never thought his stuff was that good anyway. STC was miles better than Archie.

  11. Ken Penders did shaped the Archie comics throughout his years with but to me some of his storylines seems a bit too real
    but all in fairness, Ken is what made the Sonic Archie comics stand out (though Ian Flynn does shows good performance currently)

  12. I’ve gotta say I much preffered STC over Archie as well. Archie used to be pretty funky in the early days when it was a comic aimed at kids (you know, what Sonic is ALL about) but now it reads like a emo’s fan fiction. It’s been slowly becoming a sprawling mass of angsty weirdness for some time now.

  13. @sonicyoda
    How is it emo? Is it because it has serious stories compared to pre issue 30 of Sonic? The ENDGAME saga must have been the emoest of the comic, if thats what you mean. LOL

    Anyway, isnt Ken the one who thought it was a good idea for the teenage love stories for Sonic? That was the worst period of the Sonic comics.

  14. You know Ken, there were alot of times when you were on the comic when I would most often than not disagree with you, and sometimes dislike you. But today you’ve earnt my respect by voicing what needed to be said but no one would. Good on you sir. And good luck with whatever the future holds for you.

  15. I’am loving the comics right now, But remember if it went all ‘Star Trek’ Rebootin it’ll lose a hell ov a lot of fans, besides Ian’s update a while back sounds promising old villains are starting to come back, the Journey to the east SU arc is sounding good, seeing a apart of mobius we havent really seen before as well and the AMARDA finally making their appearence, now we just need the 4 characters from Tails SkyPatrol Cream and Mephillis to make appearences and that is every character in the Game universe done. Oh yeah Metal Knuckles should be in it soon!

    By The Way MATRICULATED! Bonus points for Nigel Kitching’s name being put on the topic 🙂 I remember the 1st day I saw Issue number 1 of the FLEETWAY series on the 29th of May 1994, iam 26 and its been 17 years since I started collecting them, and as a celebration closer to the date (which happens to be NK’s Birthday) Ill be doing something special for it,

    Back on the comics I feel that its only now that it is starting to go in a darker direction again I mean Robotnik is slowly getting his mind back which means it’s a pissed off Robotnik wanting revenge, In the fleetway we had many dark stories for eg Sonic coming back from the Special zone finding Robotnik has 100% control over Mobius, the famous ‘RUNNING WILD arc having SUPER SONIC as a demon wanting destruction! SONIC having being respnsible for kinda creating Robotnik etc.

    So I sat as well STC FOREVER! (hmmm thinking now is the right time for it to be brought back you know 🙂 )

  16. Like many of you, I can see where Ken is coming from here. His arguments about lack of creativity regarding story lines may in fact be relevant if what he says about his original outline is true, and I am not doubting that it is right now. He did so much making the Archie series a really interesting world and one fun to come back to once or more a month. But his position on the subject of canon and related subjects seems so immature it’s almost out of character. I am glad he takes pride in what he did, but a comic like this, taking only things from the original creators as canon is ignoring what this type of medium is all about.

    Like many superhero characters, Sonic’s character and world are up for interpretation. And that’s part of the fun of comics like these, and the cartoons, and of course the games. Seeing how a certain writer is going to take the story and world and put their own spin on it is fun, and kind of expected in this kind of medium. So, I feel like lines like ” he can never alter the fact that in MY universe” come across as horribly arrogant and off putting. “His” world is actually the combination of what came before, what he created, and what the team created.

    If he came back for whatever reason, I wouldn’t complain though. He could come back and pull a good ol fashion comic reboot with benefits. (keep what he liked or whatever) However much I think he is being a little self righteous and cocky and all those things, he also clearly cares about the world he had so much to do with. For that I have to give him credit. Gargoyles season 3 was declared non-canon, and I seriously agree with the writer on that front; so I can’t completely dismiss Ken’s annoying tone and personality without being hypocritical.

    I will finish off by saying it it wasn’t for Ian’s writing I wouldn’t be buying both comics every month right now. Ken can call it lazy creativity, but I find it really great dialog, characterization, and most importantly, a really really fun read. I can’t say anything about the whole re-using already made stories because I don’t know the story behind that; but that really wouldn’t change things for me. At the very least, his original stories, or interpretations, or whatever, are absolutely vibrant, life filled adventures that I look forward to, which is more than I can say for the end of Ken’s run. (Though as he says, ENDGAME and the Dark Legion were triumphs in Sonic storytelling.)

    Both comics sell out at my local comic shop every month, and I believe there’s good reason for that.

  17. This is extremely unprofessional on Ken’s part.

    By his logic, the book itself is not canon because it was based on SatAM, and SatAM isn’t canon because it was based on the games.

    I enjoy the comics. Ian’s doing fine.

  18. I think Ian is doing a great job, especially with continuing the plot after Robotnik’s defeat. To be honest, I’ve enjoyed issues 175 and on more than the earlier issues.

  19. I agree with pretty much everyone here, Ken seems kind of disrespectful resentful of Ian. Personally, I don’t see why he’s proud that he ignored Karl Bollers stories (though I’m for some reason impressed that he managed to not use any characters). One of the main things I like about how Ian is doing the series is how straight forward it is. Since he is the only lead writer, he can plan ahead and can lead up to plots thaat he had been building tension to, that way the comic plays out like a linear tv show instead of just random stories.

    Also, doesn’t it seem unfair to tell him to use his own characters and plots? The comic had been going on for 160 issues and due to his abrupt hiring, there were a lot of stories left unfinished He should be allowed to build on the characters and stories that already exist, just like how Ken built on the stories and characters created for the games/satAM/early comics.

    I kind of understand why he’s sour about Locke though. I still don’t agree since even then the story was called a potential alternate future, but I think the reason he prefers his story is because he wrote it in memory of his own father, and probably felt it was more relatable that way. But at the same time Locke’s real death was done with honor and dignity. His line makes me think he still writes a continuation his stories in his basment that he considers to be the real canon. 😛

    I hope that wasn’t too much flaming.

  20. @Jason the Jackass

    “Such as Rotors “love-then-hate” of firearms.”

    What’s ironic is that it was KEN himself who reconned that. (Rotor used firearms in around issues #40-50, and then during the “The Good, the Bad and the Unknown” story arc, Rotor said that the Freedom Fighters have never used guns and never will).

  21. @Eric

    “One of the main things I like about how Ian is doing the series is how straight forward it is.”

    DAMN STRAIGHT. Ken made the original “Mobius 25 Years Later” story go on for OVER A YEAR, with the first 3 or 4 chapters just being small talk which leads up to the MAIN SITUATION. With Ian, his M25/30YL stories lasted for 2 or 4 issues.

    …wait, here I am saying this, when Ian has us stuck right in the middle of the “Iron Dominion” story arc for almost a year XD

  22. I personally don’t think that everything Ian has done has been gold. In fact, a lot of it, while not BAD, has been somewhat boring and felt lackluster. Regardless, I am otherwise happy with Ian’s run. When he does a good job, he does a GOOD job. This is also true for Ken. Even Ken is my favorite of the two, I won’t deny the fact that some of his stories were just as dull, boring, and lackluster on several occasions. I can see where Ken is coming from, but at the same time, I can’t.

  23. No offfense Ken, but honesty. Ian is doing a much better job than you did. Hes clearing things up and giving characters more depth. I know loads of people quit reading the comics while you were writing and rejoined after Ian started to write.
    I liked both of you, but after this.. wow.

    That was unprofessional of you. You’ve proved to be a prick, don’t come back to the comics, as i want a REAL writer.


  24. 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.

  25. He is right in saying that his stuff hasn’t really evolved the setting of the series. Every ending conflict leads them right back to where they started. The endings are rushed and it’s way too predictable. In the end you know what’s going to happen just not how it happened.

  26. Honestly, can he get anymore immature? He sounds like a child saying “I didn’t like it, so it didn’t happen” and then poking his tounge at Ian.

    Not everything Ian’s done has been great, I admit, but seriously,what did Ken have? “Evil Sonic takes Sonic’s place.”, wow Ken, that’s original of you, use a repeatedly overused plot device and a whole lot of other stuff that just sucked, ie; Shaodw uses Dues Ex Machina! Super Effective!

    Post the Knuckles comics, nothing that great happened under Ken’s pen, which is sad because Bollers wasn’t that great either.

  27. I wonder if Ken realizes that the reason why Ian’s used to much of his material is that a HUGE portion of Ian’s run has been consumed by cleaning up the horrible mess that Ken left.

  28. …….

    I gotta say that I’m really not too sure what to think of Ken. I mean I know where he stands storywise: he’s a good writer that really set up the foundations for the Archie sonic universe, but even so I lot of what he did wasn’t very good either.

    But I’m talking about personality wise. I’m pretty stable on Ian, but I’m still not sure of Ken, though it’s things like this that tilt my opinion in a negative way. I still don’t know the full story of him leaving the comic, so I can’t comment on him being bitter or not. However, his whole comment seems very…self righteous, prideful, and uplifting. I can understand pride and the desire to protect your work, but still, what happens in the industry happens: life sucks, what’s new? To just go and blame the current writer of lack of originality or skill because he builds on what’s been done (160 issues) is immature, unproffessional and smacks of being a jerk. Especially with his comments like ‘did he create an endgame?’ I mean, c’mon!! uncalled for.

    The point is, Ken started at the beginning, so he had to build from very little, and of course he set up so much. Ian, on the other hand, came in waaaaay later, and the so the situation was totally different. Ken says that he ignored the other writers, which is why there were so many problems with the comic before Ian came in. That doesn’t happen anymore, which is good. And for Ken to just up and say he would ignore EVERYTHING Ian has worked on is completely uncalled for. Ian’s got A LOT to work with, and besides, there was only ever ONE endgame, and not even Ken made another. And endgame itself was hated by A LOT of ppl, for many reasons.

    I know that some here said that they met him and he was nice, but can’t ANYBODY seem nice upon mere acquaintance? That’s how perverted pedafilers get kids, afterall. You gotta look at more than that, and I haven’t seen a whole lot of Ken (online or otherwise).

    There was however, one account, related by sonic SatAM writer Ben Hurst, who talked of an attempt to make a SatAM based movie. He mentioned how he was going to work on it alongside Ken himself, and that all seemed hopeful, until Ken kinda of sabotaged it, saying along the lines that if there was gonna be a sonic movie, HE was going to be the one who wrote it.

    Here’s the link to the source: it’s about half way down, in the first 2005 section, about half way through that.

    So that, along with this new ‘comment’ have really worked to discolor my view of Ken. And really, he doesn’t OWN the characters, so what right does he have to just not count whatever anyone besides numero uno has done as obsolete? Stan Lee CREATED his characters; sonic writers DID NOT create the main cast, and Ken didn’t create Knuckles.

    So overall, while I like a lot of what Ken did, I’m rather ashamed of him, acting like this. I mean, whether you like Ian or not, it’s just plain not right.

  29. Wow, Ken’s comments were pretty harsh. I have to say Ian’s Sonic stories are better in my opinion – he even made Sally more likeable again. Ian’s doing a good job, it made me wanna read more Sonic comic from him. Nuff said.

  30. To be quite honest, Ken’s behavior towards Ian is simply unprofessional and childish. Ian has been doing a great job with the comics, Sure I enjoyed Mr.Penders’ run on Sonic the hedgehog comic on some parts but Ian has been doing wonders for the Sonic universe in general; Like for example The antione and bunnie marriage. Like Ian brought up in his comment from here and at his forum, he showed us in even in a time of war and tragedy for Sonic and the gang there can be a moment where you can have a sigh of relief and have two characters who loved each other finally marry and say “I do”. And as for Sally, (Yes I’m gonna even bring this up.) Ken made her in the later issues almost unlikeable, someone who wanted to make Sonic’s life a living hell and couldn’t move on with her life but live in a depression, also yell at him alot. I understand that heartbreaks are tough, and hard to get over but still…While Ian however showed us that side of sally that we grew up with, The Sally we knew and loved from the Saturday morning cartoon! He even showed how Sonic and Sally made up over the break up and fallout of Sonic the hedgehog Issue #134. Yes I’m aware of the Mobius 25 years later story Ken wrote and aware that he showed Sally to Sonic’s wife and the mother of his kids.

    I respect Ian Flynn, because he’s giving us fans what we want to see in our Sonic the hedgehog comics. More Love! Comedy! Action and Thrill and Suspense! I say Thank you Ian, you are a excellent writer and look forward to reading more of your work ^^

  31. I haven’t really bought a comic since J. Axer and Penders pretty much left (Which would be M25YL or Antione & Bunnie Get Married). I think the only Flynn penned issue I have is a Sonic X comic.
    I checked out the Archie blog recently to check out the issue previews and my lord has it gone downhill. I’m suddenly nostalgic for the days when Spaz would pencil an epic story arc about Sonic and Knuckles dukeing it out over some silly argument and it would be considered a “special”. I’m not crazy about Tracy Yardley or Ian Flynn at all and it boggles my mind as to those that think he’s a spectacular writer. COME ON! That storyline about Evil Sonic has been running since 2005 and I don’t recall anyone liking Monkey Khan in the original story arc he was featured in back in 98 or 99.

  32. All I’ll say is, I stopped reading the Archie comic at some point around the #65-75 mark, and only started again at #175. The current Monkey Khan storyline is a lot better than the original Monkey Khan storylines were.

    Also, apparently there’s a need to mention that rubbish-bin liner Fleetway put out.

  33. I vote for Ian. I find the modern stories more exciting than the older ones. Everything else I have to say has already been said.

  34. If I’m not mistaken, one of the most frequent complaints about the series is the number of characters. So Penders criticizing Flynn for not putting in new characters is ironic and reveals more about him then about Flynn. At the time Penders came along the comic was still relatively new and had space for more characters and such. Flynn, on the other hand, came into a long established franchise and adding new characters would’ve been risky, not to mention unnecessary.

    Ian Flynn tries to give the fans what they want, which includes creating a cohesive universe. Penders, on the other hand, seems to think he owns the Sonic comic universe. Never mind that it was there before he came along, and will probably remain long after him. If he feels that strongly about his creations, he should create his own web comic, not try to cut down the people currently working on the official one. Frankly, I think he’s just doing this to feel good about himself, not because he actually cares about the current quality of the comic. After all, with all his current success, he has no reason to feel bitter, right?

    My only real complaint about the current plot lines is that the whole “Freedom Fighters find new home, home gets destroyed” thing is starting to get a little old. Other than that, I think Ian is doing a fine job.

  35. @Matt

    Yes, there is a need to mention that “rubbish-liner”, as you call it.

    Because, honestly, this is pretty much the reason why I don’t read the American comics.

    Yeah, I’m sticking to the British version. Well, maybe the Japanese (and that one-time French version) as well.

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