I’m sure all of you caught Ken Pender’s little announcement yesterday, regarding his newfound ownership of everything he created in the Archie book. It’s taken a little while, but Ian Flynn has finally delivered an in depth response to these claims, which you can find in full below. He posted this over at his forum, BumbleKing Comics:
I had wanted to let this ride out by itself and not mire BKC in paranoia and speculation, but given the amount of email, PMs and general broo-ha-ha around the net, I guess a little pat on the head and “everything will be fine” doesn’t quite cut it.
I still do not want this to blow itself out or proportion, so this is the go-to thread for info and news. There will be no discussion because there’s nothing to discuss, and all it will do is get everyone in a tizzy.
The Short Version
The Archie legal department is handling things. I’ve been told to keep writing as usual and to continue with our plans for the end of 2010/start of 2011. As I said before: no worries.
The Longer Version
Bear in mind that I don’t have all the information. All I’m going off of is my limited understanding of the ownership of things within the book and franchise. So unless Mr. Penders pulls a rabbit out of his hat, I feel fairly confident in my understanding of things.
1) Work-for-Hire – While I’m bound by my contract to not talk about my contract, I can say I’m work-for-hire. I’ve been on the book for five years (!!!) and I’m still freelance, part-time, on-the-side. All of my contributions to the book are for the book, and I’m paid for that.
All the stuff I came up with for “Young Salem” – Foreman Armstrong, Mortimer Destiny, the Lizarmyn, Horde Lord, concept, etc. – is Archie’s. I can’t do my own book under BKC about Mortimer and Felicia’s younger days.
Sonic-wise, I have a harder parallel to draw since I’ve spent more time using the content within the book and taking it in new directions. I suppose Thrash is the best example, lean as he is character-wise. He’s Archie’s. Plain and simple.
Everyone on staff (and I include us freelaners when I say this) has to sign that contract. So unless Mr. Penders’s contract was wildly different, he signed away those characters before he even created them.
2) SEGA – It is my understanding, as explained by Mr. Penders himself years ago on his forum – that ultimately SEGA owns everything in the book. If it’s associated with Sonic in the book, it is by extension SEGA’s. From my understanding, that is why BioWare could so freely emulate the Dark Legion for the Marauders.
I know there was some confusion elsewhere concerning rights to SatAM. As it was explained, SEGA owns the intellectual property – the characters and such – but DiC retains the rights to the animation. So you wouldn’t see SEGA reselling SatAM boxsets willy-nilly. Conversely, DiC wouldn’t be able to just up and make a new Sonic cartoon.
3) Reboot – Oh if I had a nickle for every time this word got tossed around. I’ve already begun material for 2011 and, as I said before, have been told there’s no need to change. Not that we’re blindly forging ahead, but that we have no reason to stop.
What would need a reboot, in the scenario that Mr. Penders somehow did win out in all this, is his plans. SEGA would not grant him the license to use Knuckles, I can flat-out tell you that with certainty. So right there the core component of the Echidna Lore – the main character – is gone.
He would not be able to use Angel Island, Mobius, or the Chaos Emeralds. Easy enough fix, though, right? It’s Skyhigh Island on Terra using the Magi-Gems for flight. (copyright, by the way. Double-tappsies, no take-backs).
But the entire Echidna cast is comprised of Knuckles knock-offs. Mr. Penders would be required to redesign the entire cast, unless he’s planning on trying to pass it off as parody (which I doubt).
By the time the property would be safe to touch, it would be unrecognizable. It’s not about Knuckles’s society or family. It’s not about echidnas (the kind we think of, at least). It would now be a sci-fi-lite story about some dudes on a flying island. That could be interesting in its own right, but it’s not the story I think Mr. Penders wants to tell, and it’s not the one the echidna fans want to read. So I’m not entirely sure what his greater thinking is here.
Again, take my words with a grain of salt. I’m not privy to absolutely everything going on. But from what I do know I am confident I – and you all – have nothing to worry about.
So relax, curl up with the latest SONIC book, and enjoy it while ignoring the storm outside. This too shall pass.