Ian Flynn gives in depth response to Pender’s copyright claims

Ian Flynn gives in depth response to Pender’s copyright claims

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.

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Nuckles87 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. Basically: YEAH WHAT HE SAID.

    It confirms my initial thoughrs about all of the characters- basically- are intellectual property of SEGA, and you pretty much hand over any remaining rights to the company. Think Ken might need another leg. He hasn’t got any to stand on at present it seems.

  2. Someone please post that gif of Michael Jackson eating the popcorn.

    And Archie… Hire me!

  3. Thank you Ian for clearing that up 🙂 My friend has also cleared this up for me.I’ve also done some research last night as well on this subject stating this exact same thing. Given this,I’m going to do a little more research on the copy write laws. I do remember reading somewhere also that:If you design a new character it is then taken as Archies and Sega’s property.

  4. I should have said that if you work with archie that it is there property under copy write…I mentioned sega because I think they have a say so in it as well. There’s a bit of legal print in the comics themselves as well that explains the ownership.

  5. Yeah this is pretty much the logical outcome. It was either going to come down to some kind of profitable deal with Penders (for him, not Archie or Sega) or he’d find out the legally he’s one braincell short of a logical legal set up.

    Sega most likely owns the right to the characters and there’s little, if anything Pender’s can do about that. I’m not a fan of the Archie Sonic series but I’d still hate to see some kind of forced alteration to storylines or characters that would no doubt ruin continuality.

  6. Well said. Unlike Penders it seems Flynn is handling this calmly. I do agree with him though, I see no reason for Penders to be doing this. What’s he plan on doing with characters that can’t be used unless the core chracter they revolve around is present??

  7. Need I paraphrase Billy Luto, Salem Saberhagen’s High School Bully? This came from that Sabrina Season 4 Episode, “Salem and Juliet.”


    Well, now that THAT little childish thing to do was out of the way, I guess Sonic’s stuck with Archie Comics until he’s not worth writing for.

  8. Sega representative – ” Ok boys, pack it up, we’re moving to Image Comics ”

    All depends on what the contract Penders signed stated.. If everyone knows for certain that his was the same as everyone else’s, then there’s nothing to worry about…. except Thrash who I can see turning against everyone ._.

  9. That’s what I was thinking, the characters are too tied to the Sonic world to be used for anything else. So even if by some wild twist of events Pender gets the copyrights, he’d never get past SEGA to be able to use them.

  10. Wise words, Mr. Flynn. I really don’t understand what Pender’s is trying to achieve here. Even if he won his case, he’d still have to deal with Sega and him trying to make money on characters based on the design of Knuckles. It’s not copying an art style, it’s outright copying a character design with a little add-ons here and there. I doubt Sega would let him profit on such a thing. He would never be able to win that battle. In the end, he’s pretty much an idiot. It’s sad really 🙁

  11. In the end, it’s like trying to make a buck off of fan characters, if you ask me…

  12. It’s nice to hear that SEGA owns the rights to the SatAM characters. That show had the strongest female characters of the Sonic series (i.e. Bunnie, Dulcy, Lupe) and it would be interesting if they would appear in a game, even if some of them made a cameo in one of Sonic Spinball’s bonus stages.

  13. @Vulpine You know, since that is legal, Sonic Spinball’s the ONLY time we’ll see the the SatAM characters (Original Freedom Fighters). If they wanted to, they could get Rob Paulson to reprise his role as Antoine. Hah, and Hah, again, I am saying to that.

  14. Congrats to Ian for behaving like a professional in all of this.

    Oh yeah: does anyone else think that “Dudes on a Flying Island” would be a good name for a rock group?

  15. I’m happy to hear this.

    Although I was thinking that “work for hire” would crop up.

    I’m still kind of bothered by the fact that Penders would do something like that.

    I would figure someone as creative as him would be too busy creating new ideas than to worry about old ideas that barely show his creativity.

  16. I’d figured that Ken was barking up the wrong tree.

    Quote Ian: “It is my understanding, as explained by Mr. Penders himself years ago on his forum – that ultimately SEGA owns everything in the book.”

    Gee Ken did you forget your own words! Sega is holding all the Aces while Kens Quad Ducks (all 2s) looks like shit, I don’t think you can bluff your way out of this one Ken, cause you called All-In and Sega takes the pot.

  17. Thank you Ian, you put most of my fears down alot. Especially about the reboot “wipes forehead”

  18. There’s no better way of putting it really. There is a little bit of a storm going on outside so best advice is to stay inside out of the storm and just read the comics with no fear that someone is going to be angrily snatching them from you whilst you’re reading.

  19. Well as far as I can see, It all depends on what kind of contract Ken signed but he already has a copyright signed up on a legitimate website.


    Frankly I don’t think it will change anything at all. Since Ian has be ruining all of the past and all the characters and making them flat as pancakes, personality wise of course. Think about it. Julie rarely shows up anymore, Lein-da is on the verge of being put on a bus and even tho Dimitri was mentioned he just isn’t there anymore! Geoffrey showed up for two comics in forever… Mogul is gone, Ixis is gone. Its all over already and you just don’t notice really. So if it does go through the only difference is insteand of being the ‘Dark Egg Legion’ He’ll have to come up with something perverted to more his taste like ‘Testosterone Army’ Or ‘Vaginal Birthmark’ or ‘Sexual Refference’ :/

  20. It’s good to see calm, adult reasoning being employed here.

    Even on non-fictional matters, Ian is the better writer.

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