Want to feel old? Sonic the Hedgehog is 30 this year. We’ll just let that sit for a moment.
Although the Blue Blur is, canonically, only 15, his first appearance came in 1991 – technically in the arcade racer Rad Mobile, where the future Sega mascot cameoed as a rear-view mirror decoration, before debuting in the original Sonic the Hedgehog game on the Mega Drive (or Genesis, if you’re of an American persuasion). While he’s gone on to appear in more than 50 video games in the (gasp) three decades since, Sonic also has a tremendous legacy in comics – a legacy current Sonic publisher IDW is celebrating this summer.
Sonic’s comics history is complex, with two main pillars – Archie Comics in the US launched the character’s first ongoing series in 1992, publishing 290 issues plus innumerable spin-offs and mini-series, while in the UK, Fleetway published Sonic the Comic, which ran from 1993-2002, featuring original Sonic stories, its own continuity, and original comics featuring a host of other Sega games and characters. IDW took over the license in 2017, with a well-received relaunch that brought over long-time Archie Sonic writer Ian Flynn to pen new adventures for Sonic and friends.
In June’s Sonic the Hedgehog 30th Anniversary Special, IDW offers up an 80-page giant issue of stories celebrating Sonic’s momentous occasion, with three stories celebrating the speedy freedom fighter and his expansive supporting cast. The special will also feature classic creators bringing their fan-favourite touches to the characters, and fresh talent tackling Sonic’s universe for the first time.
The first story is Seasons of Chaos, penned by veteran Sonic scribe Flynn, with art by Reggie Graham and Aaron Hammerstrom. IDW describes the tale as sending Sonic on “a mission from pleasant spring valleys to winter wonderlands in search of Chaos Emeralds alongside his friends Miles ‘Tails’ Prower, Knuckles the Echidna, Amy Rose, Mighty the Armadillo, and Ray the Flying Squirrel.” With core Sonic characters from the games and niche favourites who’ve blossomed in the comics over the years, this sounds like a real crowd pleaser.
“Sonic has been central to my creative career for fifteen years,” said Flynn, via statement. “I’ve had the pleasure of writing the little blue hedgehog in a variety of media, and he in turn has introduced me to an army of artists and editors who have helped me grow as a professional (and made me look good). I’ve had a long run with Sonic, and I hope that continues for years to come!”
The second story shifts focus to Sonic’s nemesis, Dr Robotnik – or Dr Eggman, as Sega insists these days. Titled Dr Eggman’s Birthday, the story is written by Gale Galligan – known for her illustration work on The Babysitter’s Club – with art by Thomas Rothlisberger, and is described as “surprisingly poignant”.
“When my sister and I were little, we borrowed the Sonic the Hedgehog OVA from our local video library and proceeded to watch it about a billion times,” said Galligan. “I still remember quoting it back and forth with her for weeks after that! Sonic has held a special place in my heart ever since. I’m thrilled to be able to contribute to the 30th Anniversary Special, and I can’t wait to send my sister a copy!”
Finally, podcasters the McElroy Brothers – Justin, Travis and Griffin known for The Adventure Zone and My Brother, My Brother, and Me – make their Sonic debut, penning Sonic Learns to Drive, with art by Mauro Fonseca. IDW describes it as “Sonic’s up against a tough challenge: when the fastest thing alive can outrun any car, will Sonic have the patience to learn what to do behind the wheel… or will he finally get left in the dust?”, but we’re hoping it’s an explanation for Sonic’s many, many racing outings.
The Sonic the Hedgehog 30th Anniversary Special goes on sale in June, priced at $8.99 USD, with a hardcover “Deluxe Edition” following in October, packing in an extra story, cover gallery, a ‘From Script to Comic’ feature and “much more”. The current IDW ongoing Sonic the Hedgehog series, written by Flynn and various artists, will also get the deluxe edition treatment, with Sonic the Hedgehog: The IDW Collection, Vol. 1 launching on 22 June, the first in a new line of oversized Sonic hardcover editions that will collect the current continuity in the recommended reading order. The first volume collects issues #1-12, and will retail for $59.99 USD.