TSS Interviews: Archie Comics at San Diego Comic Con

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While at Comic Con Alex and I got the chance to interview the recently promoted executive director of editorial Paul Kaminski, art director Jon “Dubs” Gray and artist Evan Stanley. We discuss all things Sonic and Megaman and even throw in the Mighty Crusaders for a little variety. It was pretty hard to get an interview schedule in as Archie booth was incredibly busy this year, so you’ll notice that the interview is in two parts. We have the second part of the interview in the comments page. I think the second part came out much better as it was more off the cuff and natural and my stomach isn’t as stuck out, making me look like I’m 9 months pregnant. Enjoy!

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The Sonic/Mega Man Q&A Panel From San Diego Comic Con

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Here’s the Q&A session from the Sonic/Mega Man panel that took place just over a week ago at Comic Con International. Artists Jon Gray and Evan Stanley were there along with Editor Paul Kaminski and Archie president Mike Perrilto among others. Mike and Paul are still arguing on whether Rotor Sucks or not, but everyone shows their love for the freedom fighting clam, Bivalve. I’ll be showing photos from the panel in a later update and my interview with Archie Editor Paul Kaminski will also be up later this week. The audio kinda echos through the room, so I’d recommend some headphones so you can hear what they are saying. Enjoy!

Interview: Paul Kaminski

Paul on the left. followed by Mike Pellerito, Ben Bates and Ian Flynn

Down at the 2500 isle of the San Diego Comic Con, Archie Comics had thier biggest booth yet. Stationed next to IDW Comics and Boom Studios. In recent years, Archie comics has been doing well at making their presence known, making headlines with the “Archie Marries” and “Kevin Keller” series. Their biggest acquisition in the past year has been the Mega Man license. Sales of the comic have been doing phenomenally well pushing past sales of their former top seller and still big seller Sonic the Hedgehog. Sega was also at Archie’s booth with two demo stations playing Sonic Generations. Needless to say, as a Sonic fan, I hung out there quite a bit. On Friday, I sat down with Archie Comics editor Paul Kaminki to discuss Mega Man, Cosmo and all things Sonic. Here’s what he had to say.

Last year, you used one word to hint at the events of this year “Genesis”. Ian hinted at the events of #225 with “BLAM!BLAM!BLAM!” What is the one word you would use to hint at #230 and beyond?

Paul – The best. I’ve seen 230 and 231 pencils and it’s the best stuff we’ve ever done. It’s the fallout from 225, the aftermath of Genesis and the road to 250 all in one. Ben Bates worked on those and he outdid himself. He worked on 232 and it’s coming along fantastic as well.

Awesome. Out of the main four Sega characters, Knuckles, Tails and Sonic have all had their backgrounds fleshed out well. But Amy Rose seems to have little known about her. Will we ever see an arc about her backstory?

Paul – Yes. You won’t see too much in the near future, but you will see some more of that next year. Amy will be taking up a larger role as well. I really can’t say to much more than that, but Sonic’s gonna need her help.

Sounds very interesting. With Sally’s life hanging on the line, it seems to have divided some of the fanbase. Some who want her to live and some who’d love to see her dead. Will the outcome of this current story be able to please both sides?

Paul – I think so. It satisfied me anyway. (Laughs) We’re not trying to disrespect the character at all. We just want to make a real interesting story like you’ve never quite seen with her before. It’s easy to say she’s got Jean Grey syndrome in that she’s taken out and brought back again over and over, but I think what we’ve done with her and what we’re about to with her is unique. Whether she’s alive or dead, her story is not over at all.

In Sonic Genesis, it’s kind of a flashback to Sonic 1 and 2 as Eggman reset the world. Will the effects from the Genesis storyline affect the Prime World at all?

Paul – Yea. Definitely. With some characters you might not expect it to have an effect on. It will have an effect on the cast going forward.

I kind of like what was done with Rotor/Boomer in Genesis. Making him smarter and tougher.

Paul – Yea. I saw online that this reviewer’s little kid loved it when Boomer smashed up the Caterkiller. I love him too! Mike (Perrilito) hates him. He keeps telling me. “Why do you keep using the dumb Walrus?” I tell him “Cuz Rotor’s cool man!” (Laughs) Genesis has some great qualities that I think will transition nicely into the main universe.

Will Silver’s search for the traitor come to fruition soon?

Paul – VERY soon. 

Moving onto Mega Man which is doing absolutely incredible in sales. Are you surprised at the high sales in the direct market? Even surpassing Sonic by quite a bit?

Paul – Yes. Quite happy with direct market and newstands too. We saw a particular spike in newstands that we’re hoping to stretch ever further with the graphic novel later this year. Because, I became a big fan of Fables through the graphic novels so I’m hoping more people will become fans of Mega Man and Sonic through the trades. 

I think the first 3 issues were handled very well. It seems less of a game adaption as it does about a boy being sent off into a war and the effects it has on him. In issue #2, he has to kill other robots for the first time and he hates it. He doesn’t like killing his own kind. In issue #3, he’s become desensitized to it and he starts getting an attitude. Did you and Ian mean to develop his character in this manner?

Paul – His character is the most important thing we’re trying to juggle. It’s very important to us that we develop this character properly in the first arc and beyond.

The only small complaint I had about the first three issues is that the Robot Masters seem to get squashed pretty quickly with no time for their characters to get any personality (outside of Cutman). Will this be addressed in future stories?

Paul – Well, the comic isn’t called “Robot Masters” it’s called Mega Man so he’s the main thing we’re focused on. The Robot Masters are not going away. They’ll be back and back and back as part of the regular cast. I’ve read alot abut the complaints about them being taken out too easily. They are part of Mega Man’s evolution as a character. Wily’s the real bad guy. He won’t be gone for long either. In hindsight, maybe we took them out too fast, but we needed to get through the book to establish the first story. I think in the graphic novel, it won’t seem so fast and it will seem like a very coherent tale.

What will we see from Mega Man in the future?

Paul – An integration of original stuff to a limited degree with faithful adaptions of the other games. Different artists. All stories done in a 4-issue arc Sonic Universe style.

So we can expect to see his robo dog Rush next year?

Paul – Yes. I saw the preliminaries of his design. but we work pretty far in advance. I’m pretty excited myself. I’ve seen the finished pencils from the next arc and it looks great.

Going onto Cosmo the Merry Martian. Can you tell us what this title is all about?

Paul – Cosmo is still something we’re working out. we don’t have a set date for him yet. He’s an old character from the 50’s and 60’s. He’s pretty much Spongebob in space. It’s Ian’s opportunity to run wild.

Speaking of poor Ian, he’s got a lot on his plate now. What with four titles to work on. Is there any chance for a not-so-young up and comer with a popular webcomic that Yardley’s worked on to have a shot at one of the titles to ease his burden? (Nudge, nudge. Wink, wink)

Paul – (Laughter) Is that a pitch? You’ll see some changes in the writing lineup in the future. Tracy will be writing the Babylon arc after Scourge is done. We have two other writers coming in to do backup stories, so you’ll see a little switch up here and there. Ian’s still the brain trust. He and I get together to workout the storylines for years to come.

Well, thank you so much for your time Paul, it’s been a pleasure.

Paul – Thank you.

Stay tuned this week to see how you can win a Comic-Con package that includes an exclusive SDCC copy of #226 signed by Ian Flynn. Along with Sonic Boom buttons and an animation cell from “Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog”!

 

 

 

 

Interview: Sonic Colors Adaptation – Paul Kaminski

The creative team of Sonic the Hedgehog and Sonic Universe have been gracious enough to grant us a three part interview about their upcoming adaption of the Sonic Colors game. The adaption will be included as the backstory of Sonic the Hedgehog #219, which releases later this month. First up is the comic’s Editor, Paul Kaminski! Enjoy.


TSS: Hello Mr. Kaminski, thank you for taking the time to answer a few questions for us!

PK: My pleasure!

TSS: Did SEGA approach you with the idea of a Sonic Colors adaption story?

PK: After the game announcement back in May, we approached SEGA to see if they would be interested in working out a “Sonic Colors” story the same way we worked the past few game adaptation back-ups. SEGA seemed as enthused about the idea as we were and shortly after the exchange the details were ironed out and Ian was hard at work on draft one of the script!

TSS: As I understand it, the comics are meant to help advertise the games in the series. Why does SEGA ask you to only do adaptions for a fraction of the Sonic games released every year?

PK: Whether games get adaptations or not, at least in my experience, is less of a strict mandate and more a matter of practicality/availability. Our primary goal, besides trying to tell a good story, is to help promote the Sonic  franchise as a whole, and I think we do a pretty good job of doing just that.

TSS: Do you have any idea what it is about the Sonic Colors game that separates it from the other games that haven’t been adapted, in particular Sonic 4 and the upcoming Sonic Free Riders?

PK: A comic adaptation of ‘Sonic Colors’ just makes sense. The game has fantastically stunning visuals, plus new characters like the Wisps that lend themselves to the types of storytelling we seek to achieve month after month with the Sonic comics. As for the other Sonic game releases this year, you may in fact see adaptations of these games, just not in the traditional “another time, another place” style.

TSS: SEGA has a reputation for keeping actual game material very close to its chest when it comes to game adaptions in the comics. What sorts of materials did SEGA lend you to allow you to do a proper adaption for this game?

PK: We had access to a pretty awesome collection of materials and imagery from the game to make the adaptation as faithful to the source material as possible.

TSS: How much lead time did you have with this adaption compared to typical Archie stories? Has it significantly altered plans for comic’s near future stories?

PK: The game adaptation stories require a little extra lead time because of the sensitive game materials and more meticulous rounds of approvals. The first conversation about doing the adaptation was back in May so that’ll give you a rough idea of how long the process took. As for altering plans, it hasn’t really. Ian wound up having to cut “Welcome back Chao” down to a one-parter but that was pretty much it. Other back-up stories got shifted around too to make sure the game story came out at around the same time as the game’s release.

TSS: What sorts of behind the scenes work have you done for this story in particular?

PK: Just a lot of coordinating with SEGA contacts, freelancers and media types to make the thing come together-  which sounds boring but is in fact a lot of hard work! I LOVE to get creative with the books and contribute as much as I can, but this story is SEGA’s baby and we’re just here to help the team!

TSS: Are the wisps and other Sonic Colors characters off limits for the in canon stories in the same way Eggman Nega is, or will you be able to include these characters on your whim?

PK: Well I can’t speak for SEGA, but the only folks I’ve ever dealt with over there are wonderfully creative cats that are just as interested in telling a good story as we are. I would guess that if there was a story that demanded we include the Wisps down the line, they would be cool with it.

TSS: Have you had a chance to play the game at any point? Maybe at NYCC?

PK: What is this…”leaving the Archie booth” you speak of?

TSS: Thank you for your time Mr. Kaminski

PK: Anytime!


Tomorrow, we’ll be interviewing Ian Flynn, and after that, artist Tracy Yardley, complete with exclusive concept art straight from the story!

NYCC: Interview with Sonic Editor Paul Kaminski!

These videos have been a long time coming, but their finally here! Over the next few days we’ll be bringing you some awesome, in depth interviews with the Archie staff. ECC’s Thomas Selinka was kind enough to take the time out of his day to record these interviews and panels in full HD.

First up, Paul Kaminski, the editor for Sonic the Hedgehog, Sonic Universe, and the upcoming Megaman books.

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Of course, Paul isn’t the biggest interview we got (sorry Paul, we still love you!). Coming up later in the day…the first ever video interview with Patrick Spaziente, the famously reclusive and hard to contact cover artist of the both the Sonic books (well, occasionally these days) and the upcoming Megaman book. We also got some guy called Ian Flynn hogging up some camera space with him, but you don’t care about him, right?