*dresses up as a vampire and emerges from behind the sofa with a scary put on deep voice*
MU-HAHAHAHAHAHA! Hello my children! It’s the time of year where the nights get colder, darker and things become just that little bit spooky! And what better way to enjoy the season by sharing a horror story?
Come my children, gather close to your uncle Hogfather and let me tell you a tale which contains a mystery, crazed villagers, a conspiracy, sacrifice and a certain red echidna treasure hunter. It’s august 1996 and despite the early time of year Fleetway has released the newest issue of their highly successful Sonic the Comic, and within its pages contains a tale so scary, it wouldn’t be out of place at any Halloween camp-fire!
So my children, in the run up to Halloween, join me as we look back at one of Fleetway’s finest and scariest stories, submitted for your approval…
We begin our tale with Knuckles, after completing his quest to get ancient artefacts in a bid to restore power to the floating islands systems, he finds himself alone in a dark forest with night drawing in.
Fortunately he spots a small village and heads over to seek shelter from the night.
It’s here we see our first little homage to classic horror, and an indication of how the writers and artists were fans of classic British and American horror movies and their mythology.
First, you might notice the name of the pub is ‘The Green Man’ we see something which could be seen as a subtle reference to multiple British horror titles. Could it be reference to a classic British horror tale of the same name, which was also adapted into a TV Movie on the BBC back in the year 1990. A horror tale fresh on our artists mind is present here in this story
Or more likely… The British Horror movie ‘The Wicker-Man.’ After Sargent Howie arrives on the island, he spends his time alone in the towns in… called ‘The Green Man.’ Later, we shall see why this is the most likely reference and homage… but not just yet my children.
But this would be one of many non-intrusive homages that would enforce the idea that all is not as it seems in this story. As Knuckles steps inside the pub, we see the next example of fine homages to classic horror.
You don’t see it my children? Well, take a good look at the pub that Knuckles enters; now take a good look at “The Slaughtered Lamb” from the movie ‘An American Werewolf in London.’
Here we now see how clever the artists and writers were on this particular issue. The differences are many, but the similarities are there, the pub is full of subtle homages to the slaughtered lamb, the star on the wall which gets them kicked out.
It’s right there, the fact that in every panel in this strip, someone is always watching Knuckles, he is an outsider, almost, foreign to this place.
After an uneasy welcome, Knuckles is given a room for the night, unknown to him, the villagers were expecting him and begin to conspire against him.
Sometime later, when Knuckles is asleep, he is awaked by a terrible scream! He rushes to the window to see a horrific sight before him, the once friendly villagers are now wearing strange costumes, branding torches and have tied a young girl to a large stone who begs for someone to save her.
This final panel once again shows how the artists and writers were careful and masterful in their craft, once again we see references to classic British Horror movies, the Green Man pub sign makes another appearance, but also, the full moon in the sky so much like an American Wereworlf in London, and the villagers themselves. Their costumes are so much like those found in the climax to the island of the original version of The WickerMan.
And you want another subtle reference? The girl on being taken away is a sheep… you might say a ‘Slaughtered Lamb…’ I point you my children towards An American Werewolf In London… the pub which it all starts in is named ‘The Slaughtered Lamb.’
This comic is a fine example of how you reference and pay homage to another media the references never distract from the action, whilst the build up to the story isn’t original, it’s enough to keep you interested, and given his character at the time, Knuckles a physical character against a whole village of insane people alone at night is fitting for his character and abilities. He can’t simply run or fly out of there, he must fight his way through them.
The artwork is also very fitting to this comic and is extremely well done. If you were to take out all the dialogue, the artwork itself would tell a clear story which matches that of the writers intention. A clear harmony existed between the artist and writer in this particular strip.
The cliff hanger may not be to everyone’s tastes, but I for one enjoy it, whilst the reader catches on that something is not right in this village long before Knuckles, he is not kept in the dark for too long or to a point that he becomes naive, his realisation is a natural and realistic one that the villagers have a terrible secret and are not what they first appear to be.
But that’s all for now my children, join me next week as we take a look at part 2 of this homage to classic horror featuring old red.
Goodnight Sonic fans… whatever you are…. MU-HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! *Vanishes into the darkness*