Sonic the Hedgehog
Here’s one of the greatest things about being a comics journalist: Every month, I get a box delivered to my home that contains the entire Archie Comics output for that month. Really, it doesn’t get any better than that.
I usually look at the comics one at a time, but this month, I thought it would be interesting to view the group as a whole, and see what it tells us about Archie and its product mix. (I should say right off the bat that this box doesn’t include graphic novels, which means there is no copy of the truly excellent Jinx 2: Little Miss Steps. If you don’t mind Jinx spoilers, go ahead and read my interview with writer J. Torres to find out what that is about.)
This month’s box contains 10 single-issue comics, six digests and two magazines. That looks like a lot, but it really isn’t because every comic and magazine this month has a variant cover. So in terms of what’s inside, that’s five singles, six digests (no variants there!) and one magazine, Life With Archie. All these have June cover dates, which means they came out in May.
Let’s take a closer look at what’s inside the box.
Editorial cartoons | Michael Cavna interviews Sacramento Bee editorial cartoonist Jack Ohman about Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s demand that the newspaper apologize for an April 25 cartoon in which the politician is depicted boasting that “Business is booming in Texas!” beneath a banner that reads, “Low Tax! Low Regs!,” juxtaposed with an image of the deadly fertilizer-plant explosion in West, Texas. “It was with extreme disgust and disappointment I viewed your recent cartoon,” Perry wrote in a letter to the editor. “While I will always welcome healthy policy debate, I won’t stand for someone mocking the tragic deaths of my fellow Texans and our fellow Americans.” Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst has reportedly called for Ohman to be fired.
Organizations | Jillian Kirby, the 16-year-old granddaughter of Jack Kirby, makes a pitch for Kirby4Heroes, a campaign to encourage donations to The Hero Initiative on Aug. 28, which would have been the legendary creator’s 95th birthday. [Los Angeles Times]
Comics | Roger Rautio, who’s spearheading an effort to establish a physical Comic Book Hall of Fame, said he’s received responses from officials in four cities — Chicago, Cleveland, New York City and San Jose — and he may meet with a Chicago city council member as early as next month. [North Country Now]
Creators | Cartoonist Reinhard Kleist discusses his graphic novel The Boxer, the true story of Polish Jew Harry Haft, who had to fight other prisoners at Auschwitz for the entertainment of the Nazi soldiers. [Deutsche Welle]
Archie Comics keeps coming up with new things, and here are two more: A deluxe, large-format Archie magazine and a Sonic the Hedgehog digest.
The Archie Comics Super Special magazine is planned as a quarterly publication, full color, with 128 pages of stories “from the Archie vault,” i.e., stories that have run before, along with a new story, “Betty and Veronica Save Christmas (or Not!).” The Archie folks are certainly making good use of their vast library by repackaging the material in different ways for different audiences — comics, digests, themed collections — and this is a format that kids will probably find appealing, especially as they will most likely be seeing the stories for the first time. This first, Christmas-themed issue, which will include creator spotlights and other bits of Archie news, will sell for $9.99 and will arrive in comics shops Oct. 31.
Last year, former Sonic the Hedgehog artist Ken Penders announced that he had retained the rights to all the characters and story lines he created while working on the comic (from issue #11 to #135), which is published by Archie Comics. Penders has sued the game companies Sega and Electronic Arts, claiming copyright infringement, and Archie Comics has sued Penders, asking the court to make a declaratory judgment on the rights question; that case is scheduled to go to court next month. It looks like a long shot, but if the court finds in Penders’s favor, Archie will be in a pickle, as they have not only reprinted those issues in digest form but also continued the storylines Penders originated, using the characters he now claims to own. (I reached out to the Archie Comics folks but they had no comment.)
In the meantime, Penders is keeping busy: He just revealed a redesign of Julie-Su, Lara-Su’s mother, for the graphic novel series he is working on, The Lara-Su Chronicles. It’s going to be an odd series, because even if the court decides that Penders should have the rights to the characters he created while working for Archie, they won’t give him the rights to Knuckles or Sonic, so the cast will be all supporting characters. On the other hand, it would be an interesting alternate universe for Sonic fans. Stay tuned!