If you're ever in need to know anything about the latest cartoon, Sonic Underground, then Shayne Thames is your gal. Webmaster of fansite SonicUnderground.net, Thames has a large database of information on characters, episodes and more. She's also famous for having a rather amazing run-in with Sonic Team leader, Yuji Naka. Read on for the story on that...
TSS: I'd like to thank Shayne Thames of SonicUnderground.net for doing this interview. Thanks Shayne!
ST: It's not a problem
TSS: Once again, we've landed a chat with another big name in the Sonic Internet Community. Shayne, would you mind explaining what you do?
ST: Well, I guess you could say I provide the best and more accurate information on the latest Sonic cartoon, Sonic Underground.
TSS: Were you a Sonic Underground fan from the start, or did the show grow on you? And, were you a Sonic fan before the cartoon aired?
ST: Yes, to both questions. Interestingly enough, I opened SU.net the same day that it began airing in the United States. As for being a Sonic fan prior to SU, I was really absorbed into the comics and games at the time.
TSS: How did you start SU.Net? Was it originally intended to be a regular Sonic fan site, or did you plan on it being about only Sonic Underground?
ST: I originally planned the site to be an 'SU' info site... but it later started to get some interest from people outside that specific fanbase, and the site started growing from there.
TSS: I remember SU being bigger, with fan scripts written by you, artwork and more interesting things. Where'd it all go?
ST: We're still in the process of rebuilding the site from when we had our big server move over the past Summer. Hopefully, it should be back sometime in 2002.
TSS: I remember a while back a story you told me - about how your website used to be called SonicTeam.com or something like that?
ST: SonicTeam.com. Yes, that was probably the best event to happen to me.
TSS: Tell us what happened.
ST: Well, as a little background info, SonicTeam.com was my original Sonic fansite. It wasn't all that big, because the site kept changing and nothing stayed the same. When SU.net came along, ST.com pretty much died, and it was just rotting there. So was my old email address, which I should have been checking.
Anyway. One day, in March 2000, I came home and found this HUGE package sitting in the hallway. I opened it, and it was some Sonic Adventures plushes along with a letter. It was written by the creator of Sonic himself, Yuji Naka, asking if he could have my old site domain, SonicTeam.com. I just HAD to say YES.
TSS: Woah, Yuji Naka himself sent a letter! I'm sure you must have felt like you were gonna die when you saw his name in the signature?
ST: I nearly fainted, truly! Instead, I screamed and went to tell the first person I could find on AIM, who happened to be Vector of Sonic HQ.
TSS: Vector made fun of you and said 'Yeah, right', I assume?
ST: No, but he WAS very sceptical and thought it may have been a fake from someone else. So I scanned the letter and showed him the proof that the letter was legit.
TSS: Fantastic story! When did you start your craze for Sonic the Hedgehog?
ST: Well, I'd say it truly started when my cousin exposed me to her Genesis when I was 7. That was around 1991. I liked the games, but I didn't go crazy for the franchise until I saw the SatAM series on US TV. That changed my life.
TSS: What did you think of the SatAM series, and did it help you get into the SU series? Also, were you a fan of AoSTH (Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog)?
ST: SatAM was really good! It had some nice storylines, and some likeable characters, though I have to be honest and say that Sally gets on my nerves. She's actually more likeable in SatAM than she was in the comics, though. But SatAM had nothing to do with me being drawn towards Sonic Underground.
On a side note, I'm NOT the biggest fan of AoStH, but I've learned to tolerate it after putting up with the likes of the Archie Sonic comics. I guess I liked the idea of Sonic actually HAVING a family (save the Sonic comics) - not to mention I like the idea of him being a prince! They also have some interesting storylines when they're not focused around Sonia (Ben Hurst and Pat Allee had this annoying pattern of centring their stories around Sonia). Oh yeah, and the fact that Knuckles is in it! The episodes with him in it are probably the best!
TSS: Why do you think Sonic Underground was cancelled? If a new Sonic cartoon series began, what would you like it to be?
ST: Bad air times, lack of advertising, and syndication is a bad combo for a kid's cartoon series. They also could have found better voice actors for SOME of the characters (Knuckles and Sonia, mainly). As for the next show, I hear rumors of a "Sonic Kids" series, which would interest me. However, my biggest hope is that DiC gets some ideas from Sonic Adventure 2 and create a saga based on that.
TSS: I talked to a few people about that Sonic Kids rumor, though it seems like a bad idea. A 'SegaSonic' series would be more like it, eh? What are your most memorable moments in the Sonic Internet Community (besides the SonicTeam.com story)?
ST: Sonic Radio. That was my first big success, and probably the best that's still going to date.
TSS: Explain what Sonic Radio's about? Do you listen to classic Sonic music?
ST: Sonic Radio was codenamed "Project R" back in October 1998. On December 5th 1998, I had aired the VERY FIRST Sonic internet radio program. It was an hour-long show; the first half was a radio drama of Sonic SatAM. The second half was called the 'Sonic R Countdown', which played the top five voted Sonic songs.
TSS: A while ago you were creating a Sonic Underground fan game, and it was an RPG, right? Can you explain?
ST: Yes, that project has changed a few times, undergoing major course corrections. We had been jumping from originally making a sequel to Sonic R for the Dreamcast, to an original video game based on fan characters that we created. It's currently in the process of becoming a text-based multiplayer RPG for both the PC and Dreamcast.
TSS: Do you think it will ever be on the PC and Dreamcast? The Dreamcast is slowly dying out.
ST: PC is no doubt. Dreamcast, I'm pretty sure of. Unlike our original plan to market the idea to Sega, this will be a free java-based game that anyone can access.
TSS: What's the game about? Is it about Sonic Underground? How do you play it?
ST: Right now, there are no real details that I can share publicly at this time.
TSS: I understand. What plans do you have for SU.Net in the near future?
ST: I've was hoping to release the 'Season 3' episodes that I've been working on this past Summer. Hopefully I'll be able to release these episodes when I get the chance to format them.
TSS: I was just looking through your site and saw the Sonic Underground RPG. Is this different from the fan game? Explain what this is and what you do here?
ST: Yes. This is a message board RPG, maintained by myself and the other staff members. It's a bit like writing a round-robin. Each player gets to add a part to the storyline that's set.
TSS: Does each player have to be a certain character?
ST: Fan characters are optional, but not required. We just make sure that no character is more powerful than the other, and we avoid crossover profiles like the plague.
TSS: If you could change one thing about the Sonic Underground cartoon series, what would it be?
ST: Sonic's fear of water. THAT was a little ridiculous.
TSS: Sonic has never been able to swim, though he could float to the bottom... I'd like to thank you for taking time to do this interview, good luck on SonicUnderground.Net and have a Merry Christmas.
ST: Merry Christmas to you too.
Visit SonicUnderground.net for a huge amount of info on DiC's sibling-based cartoon series!