SAGE 2018: Interview with Ian Flynn Summary

SAGE 2018: Interview with Ian Flynn Summary

by August 26, 2018

Yesterday the SAGE team held a live interview with IDW’s Ian Flynn. In it they discussed matters such as origin stories, potential crossovers, prior inspiration and more. The discussion reached nearly two hours in length, so we’ve condensed the most important bits in the summary below.

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  • “The transition to IDW’s been fine and dandy. The folks at IDW thought they knew what Sonic was about; they did not realize what the fandom was. They didn’t truly understand what Sonic on the internet is. They learned real fast.”
  • Starting the new series from the ground up wasn’t difficult. Sonic Forces allowed for a great starting point.
  • Ian pitched the series to Sonic Team in their headquarters, sitting right across from Iizuka-san.
  • If given the chance to write a book for any game series, he’d want to do a Starfox series.
  • One of the key reasons IDW reached out to Ian was the fandom. There was an outpour of fans saying “if you’re doing a Sonic book, grab Flynn.”
  • When asked about crossovers, Ian thinks the Ninja turtles would make the most sense. “I’ve worked on Ninja Turtles. I’ve worked on Sonic. They’ve got the package deal.” He stressed this does not confirm anything.
  • Favorite classic game is Sonic Mania Plus (formerly Sonic 3 & Knuckles). Favorite modern game is a toss up between Sonic Colors and Generations.
  • Advice for future writers is to practice and persevere. Write as much as possible, no matter what it is. Keep at it and improve just by doing. “If you don’t try you never will. If you do try there’s always that chance of success.”
  • Ian’s first gig with Sonic was a lucky break that took four years for a response.
  • Mentality for game story writing is “how does the story serve the game?” Gameplay comes first, and that influences the choices made from there.
  • When writing for Sonic, Ian primarily gets inspiration from the games. He likes to ask himself, “what happens next?”
  • Claims there’s a gag in Arms Volume 1 that he’s shocked made it through.
  • He was introduced to the series through Sonic The Hedgehog 2. Ian played Sonic, while his brother was Tails. They took it very seriously. He was hooked from there.
  • While pursuing his English degree, Ian had an epiphany. “Once I graduate I need to do something with this degree.” He instantly thought Sonic.
  • Sonic and the Black Knight is Ian’s favorite Sonic game story. He loved seeing Sonic’s free spirit be taken in a different direction.
  • Ian mentioned he’d like to do a spinoff series over Adventure’s story and onward.
  • When writing dialogue for Eggman, Ian imagines Mike Pollock’s voice.
  • If ever taken on for the games, he’d set the tone the same as the books. High paced, fairly light hearted, but with stakes.
  • Claims Sonic’s a balancing act with it’s a ridiculous scenarios, but the characters taking their world seriously results in the audience doing the same.
  • When asked about balancing plot progression and world building, Ian states it depends the arc at hand. How to get from point A to point B, breaking it down to a format both Sega and IDW want, identifying the narrative and its beats, and filling in the blanks from there are all key components.
  • It was Ian’s idea to pair Fang, Bean and Bark together as Team Hooligan. Their personalities derive from their games.
    • Knack starts his levels with a wild smile but falls for various traps.  He’s very full of himself but can’t back up, similar to Wile E. Coyote. Competent, despite himself.
    • Bean had nothing to go off for a long time until translations revealed he’s a woodpecker. His music is crazy, and he has a move where he pecks you in the face while smiling like a madman. He was basically a Looney Tunes character, so Ian used him as comic relief.
    • Bark’s brute from Fighters allowed him to be the straight man of the group. He was a very direct character.
  • Some of Ian’s favorite issues, arcs and moments are Sonic #175, Sonic Universe #2, Worlds Collide, Shadow Fall, the Death Egg 2 launch, and meeting Uncle Beauregard.
  • House of Cards was rushed, to the dismay of Ian. He’s also not fond of Sonic: Genesis.
  • Often finds himself wondering what the series would look like if the OVA took off.
  • IDW Sonic is set neither on Earth nor Mobius. Just like the games’ canon, Sonic and friends live on one world, while the humans live on another.
  • With Archie, Sega was more concerned with the bigger picture. With IDW they’re more receptive to the finer details, such as characters they can use and what they can say.
  • Ian loves all the artists he works with, and tries to play to their strengths.
  • The core components of a good story are at least one compelling character, and a conflict that needs resolved/motivates the character. The plot line extrapolates from that point.
  • He thinks the Babylon Rogues are under utilized. Wants to see them outside the Riders series. He hopes to use them in the IDW books.
  • Would love to tackle silent storytelling in the vain of Sonic 3 & Knuckles and Sonic Mania Adventures.
  • In the case of Sonic Forces, Ian wishes we could explore the six months of stories we don’t get to see during Eggman’s conquer.
  • Ian’s a Gemini, likes long walks on the beach, and his favorite color is blue.

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You can watch the unedited interview in full here. We’ve timestamped the beginning for you.