Sonic the Hedgehog's run with Archie is almost as iconic as the classic Genesis games themselves, and it's been around for almost as long—24 years. But the comic series is officially ending this year. Sega of America and Archie's partnership is coming to a close, Sega announced, and the two companies are about to go their separate ways.
News first came to Sonic fans via the official Sonic Twitter account. The statement notes that Sonic will still have a role in comics, but that #Sega of America will take "a different direction for the series" that will be announced "at a later date." Check out the full statement below.
And here's the full statement, quoted from above:
After 24 years of memorable storytelling, SEGA of America will conclude their Sonic the Hedgehog publishing partnership program with Archie Comics. This does not mark the end of Sonic in comics, but signifies SEGA of America's decision to take a different direction for the series that will be announced at a later date. SEGA would like to thank Sonic's amazing fans for their loyalty and passion over all the years. SEGA looks forward to providing more information soon.
For most Sonic fans, the Archie series is practically a staple for the blue hedgehog. The series began in 1993, and has seen over 290 issues over the past 24 years. Polygon calls it "the longest-running monthly American comic to never be relaunched." And until today, it was the longest-running American #videogame comic, too.
But Polygon also points out that Sonic's cancellation isn't entirely unexpected. Archie reportedly removed #Sonic comic subscriptions earlier in 2017. And Sonic was oddly missing from this year's Free Comic Book Day offering. The Archie comics were highly popular in the 1990s and 2000s, but these days many Sonic fans simply aren't huge Archie fans.
Maybe the time is right for Sega and Archie to part ways. But for old-school fans, it hurts quite a bit.
How Archie and Sega Joined Together
Sonic's history with Archie first began on July 23rd, 1992, nearly 25 years ago to the day. Archie comics editor Daryl Edelman talked to on Michael Gallagher, a Betty and Veronica writer who had some experience writing for Marvel Comics, to chat about creating a #SonictheHedgehog miniseries. Gallagher wrote scripts from scratch, drawing on the Genesis game's visuals to build the world and flesh out the characters.
The Sonic the Hedgehog comic series started out as a four-part miniseries that ran through 1993. Once the series ended, Archie announced that Sonic would receive regular installments, and the series itself was born. At the time, the series was received very well by both fans and journalists.
There's an important reason why. Sonic the Hedgehog and Sonic the Hedgehog 2 focused on gameplay over plot, so there wasn't much of a story to go off of (save for whatever Sega wrote in their games' manuals). On the one hand, this largely allowed players (and localizers) to interpret Sonic's story freely. But the downside to this was that Sonic's world felt strange and unknown to most gamers. Players didn't know much about Sonic's history. It was hard to understand who Sonic was, his backstory, and why he was fighting with Dr. Robotnik.
The Archie series helped solve that problem by providing more information about Sonic, his friends, and his relationship with Tails, Knuckles, Robotnik, and other characters. That fleshed out the Sonic canon for many American fans, turning Sonic the Hedgehog into a comic staple. And in a lot of ways, the series helped lay the foundation for future games featuring Sonic and his friends
Archie has been running Sonic the Hedgehog for awhile now, though. It's always good to see Sega reassess, question Sonic's future, and think about new directions for the blue blur to head. And if it's time to part ways with Archie, well, better late than never.
But Archie and Sega both leave behind a long legacy that's influenced the Sonic fandom, and video game comics at large. Let's hope wherever Sonic goes next in the comic world, it's one that builds off 24 years of solid storytelling.
Are you sad to see Sonic and Archie split ways? Share your thoughts in the comments below.