A new interview with Ian Flynn has been posted by Game Informer. As is usually the case when we post interviews, we’ll have some highlights below. However, please check out the entire interview here.
Now that you’re working with IDW, are there any major creative changes or freedoms you have now that you didn’t before? Since it’s a newly styled canon and world, where do you and IDW want to take Sonic in ways that haven’t been done before?
When I got on the original book, there was already something like 15 years of continuity. Multiple writers, editors, changes in the game franchise direction, cartoon – I rolled all these things together. There were so many visions and I was just one person trying to contribute to the pile. I tried to streamline and bring it all into one focused vision, but that’s a lot of stuff! It set the tone for where it is and where it’s going. With IDW Sonic, we have the backdrop of the games to draw from, but there’s no overhanging expectation with what the book should be; nobody’s come before and set the tone or done something wacky. We can do whatever we want. We can go wherever we want because we have the same freedom that Sonic does to just run with it.
From the outset, I’m only considering the game material to draw from because you never know what the licenser wants represented or not. So, down the line, we might incorporate other older elements and fringes of the franchise, but for right now, it’s that core game feel. Straightforward stories, lots of cinematic action early on. No long monologues or deep world building. No heavy focus on lore or backgrounds. It’s focused on the adventure we have on hand and building on that.
It’s about the journey rather than the destination.
Exactly. That being said, folks who know my writing style know I love the long con, so we’re going to be setting up a surprise early on that will play out within the first year. There’s a new antagonistic force that…I don’t know if I can talk about it, but the first four issues are all bite-sized, but they’re all building to something, and boy howdy, it’ll be amazing once we get there.
Any hints you can drop about this new antagonistic force or what direction it’ll be taking the story in?
I will say that long-term fans will probably piece it together very early on. Casual fans will find it new, exciting, and interesting. They might not even know that it’s a reference to something older.
So it’ll feel like a new antagonist but is based on something obscure from the games’ past?
Yeah. We’ll put it that way.
What games are you drawing inspiration from specifically? Is Sega involved with the comics? Do you see the company collaborating with storylines like tie-ins?
The first few issues are kind of an unofficial follow-up to Sonic Forces. The one that’s freshest in everyone’s minds. You don’t really need to play the game because Sonic beat Eggman and the world a saved, but because Dr. Eggman had conquered the world before his defeat, he has all these robot armies scattered around the place and they’re leaderless. They’ve all gone rogue and they’re forming all these chaotic pockets of danger and Sonic is running around to take care of it. That sets the stage, so if you played Sonic Forces and you got into the storyline about the Resistance and putting your own little fuzzy buddy in there and whatnot, you get a continuation of the story. Here’s chapter two. If all you know about the game is that it’s Sonic, you’re still golden.
As for the Sega relationship, they approve everything. From the story pitches to the scripts to the artwork, everything has to go through them. This time around they’ve been more directly involved with the stories themselves. Not that they’ve dictated anything, but they’ve offered suggestions here and there on where to tweak things and I’ve been excited because it makes it feel a little more “Sonic-y,” you know? It’s not just me doing Sonic like I have all these years. Sega’s saying, “That’s a neat idea, but what if you did this instead?” and I’ll say, “Yes, we’ll do that instead!” I’m sure we’ll be incorporating future game elements. That’s just the nature of the beast, so one thing I’m trying to be mindful of when constructing new characters is that I want them to feel like they belong in the game universe, so that if Sega were to say, “Hey, that’s pretty neat. Maybe it should be in a game,” I can squeal like a happy pig in the corner and get validated a bit. Ain’t holding my breath, but it would be neat!
You have a new character coming along: Tangle the Ring-Tailed Lemur. What makes her exciting and different? What about the new villains Rough and Tumble?
When introducing any new character to the series, I don’t want them to be baggage or superfluous. I want them to fill some kind of niche that isn’t already provided by the games. For example, Dr. Eggman is the main villain. We don’t need to introduce some other major villain. Sonic doesn’t need another sidekick because he has Tails. With Tangle, there aren’t a ton of female roles within the Sonic franchise. Off the top of your head, I always think of Sonic, Knuckles, Tails, and Shadow first. Beyond that, you’ve got Amy, who’s somewhat active yet is all over the place. Rouge is competent but has that odd sex appeal for a cartoon bat. Cream is like a six-year-old who isn’t supposed to get involved, so the singular kick-butt female character is Blaze, and she’s awesome! But she has the universe problem of being from an entirely different dimension and you have to use the MacGuffins to bring her over and why she’s making the trip and so on. So, let’s have a character that can easily go on Sonic adventures and be cool. She was inspired by the prototype Sonic design back in the day. One of the concepts for Sonic was a rabbit that could use his ears to pick up and throw objects. That style of gameplay was too slow to show off the power of the Genesis, so Sonic the Hedgehog was chosen since he could roll into a ball and go down slopes, shoot up into the air, and so forth to show off how fast the processor could be. The rabbit character mutated into another game called Ristar, which needs a sequel!
But the idea of a character that can reach out and grab opponents stuck with me as a neat idea, so that morphed into Tangle. Now, what if she were in a Sonic-style game? What would her gameplay be like? You got the general running and jumping down, but the tail is like a grappling tether like Sonic meets Bionic Commando: Something engaging that’d be fun to play with a character that’s rowdy and vivacious. Someone who can keep with the pace in Sonic’s universe that’s fun to watch.
With Rough and Tumble, you need more villains than just the big bad. You need some small fry to mix things up, and I think they’re going to fulfill that role. They’re kind of nasty guys that are a lot of fun.
Was it hard to connect the two universes?
You have two mad scientists! All you need to do is open up a portal between dimensions and you’re good. Eggman and Wily have so much to bond over: they like to build robots, are underappreciated geniuses, have blue guys always getting in their way – it just wrote itself. As for IDW, I’ve been writing some of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle line by them, so being familiar with that and Sonic, I’d love to have those two meet. Just about any video game franchise would be interesting to see how they’d mix with Sonic.
What are some other properties you might like to adapt to comics?
I could write you two years of Star Fox comics right now! I’d love to play in Metroid’s sandbox. I know exactly how to approach that. Mario would be the most challenging, but I wouldn’t mind that feather in my cap. I’d love to return to Mega Man, whether that be classic, X, or Beyond. Heaven help me, I know what I’d do with an Animal Crossing book. Don’t ask me how but I figured it out. I’m actually doing a graphic novel line for ARMS with Dark Horse. Overall, whether it’s Shovel Knight or Splatoon or Pokémon, I love it all.
Overall, what should all interested readers expect from the new Sonic comic?
The new Sonic book is made by Sonic fans for Sonic fans, and if you’re not, we will convert you because it’s a fun book. You don’t need to know anything coming in. Just that Sonic’s blue and goes fast.