Archie’s Sonic the Hedgehog comic has been around for 24 years and 282 issues. On top of that pile of dead trees, there have been companion miniseries, one-shots, alternate continuity spin-offs, crossovers, redesigns, reboots and even a cameo from Spawn. The best-selling comic based on the SEGA video games about a radical blue hedgehog was for years a behemoth of intimidating continuity and ponderous lore.

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And then a guy named Ian Flynn came along and made the book penetrable again. Since he and artist Tracey Yardley revamped the book (and rebooted its cumbersome timeline), Archie’s Sonic the Hedgehog comics have been more accessible and entertaining than ever. But for those of you who love the old school Genesis games but are still unsure about the comics, there’s the retro-styled Sonic: Mega Drive #1 coming in July. And much to our pleasure, Ian Flynn has found the time to tell AiPT! all about it.

AiPT!: Thanks for taking the time to let us pick your brain, Ian. Between Sonic, Mega Man and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, it’s kinda hard NOT to bump into your work when reviewing comics is our job. With the retro Sonic: Mega Drive #1 on the way, we’d like to get some retrospective insight from you on your time writing the World’s Most Way Past Cool comic.

Ian Flynn: My pleasure. Since this is a preview of a retro-styled story, does it make it foresight or hindsight? …I’ll let you do the questions from here on out.

AiPT!: You’ve been working on Archie’s Sonic the Hedgehog series since issue #160. With the book currently on issue #282, that’s a pretty substantial run (to say nothing of the Sonic Universe and Sonic Boom issues you’ve also written). One doesn’t write over a hundred issues of a comic without some passion for the property. So where did you get started with Sonic? The games? The DiC cartoons? The Archie book in its weird Dave Manak and Scott Shaw days?

Flynn: And let’s not forget Sonic X. I had a hand in about a third of that title, so yeah, I’ve lived and breathed hedgehogs for a decade. It started when my dad brought home a SEGA Genesis with . Then I found and fell in love with [what] the cartoon fans refer to as “SatAM” – that’s the one with the very 90s eco-friendly message and darker overtones. Then my best friend introduced me to the comic in grade school – and here I am. I’ve been a Sonic fan from pretty much the beginning and caught up on all I missed!

AiPT!: The reboot has been a lot of fun (I really dug the Fighters arc!), although picking up the narrative in a “contemporary” point in time has left Sonic with a predominantly untold back story. Editorial blurbs often recommend readers play some of the older Sega games for context, while your Sonic Super Special magazines have had short Origin comics offering histories for characters. Is Mega Drive #1, taking its cues from the old Genesis era of Sonic’s lifespan, going to fill in any more of that untold backstory? Or will it be a separate continuity from the ongoing Sonic comic?

Flynn: One day I hope to have the time and space to fill in all the events that brought us to where we are today in the comic’s continuity, but for now, if you know the games you’ve got the general idea of what happened. Mega Drive takes place during the past, but it’s very much a stand-alone story. It certainly is part of the continuity, but the continuity isn’t reliant on it. If you’re jumping onboard for a simple Sonic story, you’ll be quite satisfied. But if you stick with the main comics for a bit, you’ll see how things fit together. Casual fan, veteran fan, we’ve got you covered!

AiPT!: Although it’s retro-90s, I noticed you’re still going with “Eggman” over “Robotnik.” Was that a Sega thing or is it just better not to confuse younger readers with an outdated moniker?

Flynn: That’s one part SEGA, one part being realistic. “Dr. Robotnik” was his Western name for seven years, but it’s been “Dr. Eggman” for more than double that. Long live the Eggman Empire.

AiPT!: The artists of the series (Tyson Hesse, Jack Morelli and Matt Herms) seem to be taking their design cues not from the ’90s Sonic look most Westerners remember (the “mohawk” design from the DiC cartoons and earliest Archie comics), but from his appearance in the Sonic CD animated cutscenes and Sonic anime OVAs (released in the US as Sonic the Hedgehog: The Movie). Since Mega Drive #1 will be focusing on the Sega characters (Sonic, Tails, Amy, etc.) as opposed to the Archie original characters (Princess Sally, Bunnie, Antoine, etc.), was the choice to go with the ’90s Japanese aesthetic over the ’90s Western aesthetic also part of that shift in focus?

Flynn: Ever since the reboot, we’ve been focusing heavily on getting closer to the franchise’s roots. We have some holdovers for the older fans, but we’re much more closely built off the game material. For Mega Drive, we’re going whole (hedge)hog with the Sonic CD retro/classic Sonic style. I’m thrilled with what Tyson, Jack and Matt have done. This book is absolutely gorgeous.

AiPT!: Any plans for Mega Drive beyond the one-shot special? Is it a “wait and see how it does” sort of deal? Pre-Adventure ’90s Sonic was my jam, and just looking at those preview pages, I know I’d be all over further exploits of the squatter, shorter quilled Hedgehog.

Flynn: Thanks to early, passionate fan response we’ve announced that we’re going to be doing a sequel! You can look forward to Sonic Mega Drive: The Next Level later this year. I really hope the fans keep up the hype and the support, because I’ve got one last installment I’d love to write. And if interest keeps up from there? Who knows! Supply and demand – you demand more Classic Sonic adventures, we’ll supply them.

AiPT!: Thanks again for taking time to talk to us. Sonic the Hedgehog #283 comes out June 29 and Sonic: Mega Drive #1 comes out on July 6. We’re looking forward to both!

Flynn: My pleasure, and I hope you enjoy!