| Sonic the Hedgehog
| Publisher: Archie Comics
| Country of origin: United States
| First issue date: 1992-11-24
| Last issue date: 2017-02
| Number of issues: 290
| Frequency: Monthly
| Price: $1.25
Sonic the Hedgehog was a series of comic books produced by United States-based comic book publisher Archie Comics between 1992 and 2017. With issues being released monthly during its 25 year publication (including spin-off publications, compilations and crossovers with other Archie properties) it is currently the longest running and likely most successful form of Sonic-related licensed media after the video games, and was recognised as the longest running comic series based on a video game by Guinness World Records even prior to its eventual discontinuation.
While officially licensed by Sega, the comics featured a continuity separate from the video games as the series initially started as a collective adaptation of the television series Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog and the Saturday morning Sonic the Hedgehog show, with lead character Sonic the Hedgehog being a member of a group of animal Freedom Fighters, initially aiming to liberate the planet Mobius from Dr. Robotnik. As the series progressed following the cancellation of both shows, it would attempt to incorporate the stories from newer Sonic the Hedgehog video games and other media, while also maintaining its own lore, complete with a set of original characters.
Following an undisclosed abrupt hiatus in early 2017, Sega announced the cancellation of the Archie Sonic the Hedgehog comics on July 19, 2017. It was succeeded by a new comic book series published by IDW Publishing in April 2018, with some of the creative talents from the Archie series working on it.
The reason for the comic book's abrupt discontinuation remains officially undisclosed, but it is heavily suspected by the fandom and press it may be related to various legal disputes Archie Comics has been facing with some of the comic book's former writers, and a history of internal management conflicts not directly related to the comic book series. In addition, Archie Comics was in a transitional period to focus on reinventing their own original intellectual properties, and moving away from publishing licensed comic books in general, as Sonic the Hedgehog and its spin-offs were the last remaining licensed comic book series discontinued by Archie Comics.
On the 23rd of July 1992, Archie Comics's Betty and Veronica writer Michael Gallagher was phoned by his editor, Daryl Edelman while on holiday in Florida. While expecting to talk about "new ideas for the girls", he was instead told of Archie's acquisition of the Sonic the Hedgehog license; the "hot new property" from Sega which was in the process of being turned into a cartoon by DiC Entertainment. Given some loose details on Sonic, his love interest "Princess" and arch enemy "Robotnik", Gallagher was tasked with producing a comic series, supervised not only by Archie, but by Sega and DiC, the first script being due within the week.
This was not the first time Sonic the Hedgehog was made into a comic book. Sega of America had previously released a promotional comic for the first game in 1991, following the "official" lore as outlined in the Sonic the Hedgehog Bible. DiC, however, were developing their own formula - one which would see a completely new backstory for Sonic, as well as radical redesigns some of the games' rescued animals, many of which would become core parts of the main cast. DiC provided early line art for the characters, but much of the world building was up to Archie, with elements loosely on the contents of the first Sonic game.
The first comic to be released, the free Sonic the Hedgehog ¼ would debut in late 1992, with followed by a four-issue "Mini-Series" would then be produced (issue #0 debuting alongside Sonic the Hedgehog 2 in November). Starting in July 1993, the series would become by a full monthly comic production, and would remain as such for the next 25 years. While based on DiC's designs, Archie's comics would debut ten months prior to the resulting television series ("SatAM"), and while efforts were initially made to unify the two (Princess Sally Acorn sporting an older, pink design for the first dozen issues, and Rotor Walrus being referred to as "Boomer") , Archie's comics would go on to out-live SatAM and become its own self-contained universe.
While marketed as part of Archie's "Adventure Series", Sonic the Hedgehog initially had a light-hearted tone with comedic characters, with plenty of fourth wall-breaking content and references to other publications (as well as quirks in its own history). Robotnik and his badniks were played as comedy villains similarly to DiC's weekday Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog television show rather than its Saturday morning cartoon, whereas characters such as Antoine D' Coolette took on the role of comic relief.
During 1995 and 1996, however, the series began adopting a more serious tone similar to (the now cancelled) SatAM, with Robotnik transitioning from a figure of ridicule to an evil dictator (before being ultimately defeated in issue issue #50, and then replaced with a less comedic "Dr. Eggman"). Characters began showing more emotions and developing feelings for one another, while the comic's universe was greatly expanded, in many ways mirroring that of the Marvel or DC comic universes.
While initially quite distant from the video games (largely due to the fact the writers and editors were not familiar with them), the series gradually began to incorporate more content from Sega, with characters later adopting a look more consistent with Sonic Adventure. By the time the publication had ended, most Sonic games had been incorporated (at least partially) into the ongoing story (including relatively obscure entries such as Tails Skypatrol), with head writer Ian Flynn (taking over in issue #160) being considerably more aware of the Sonic franchise history than his predecessors.
Sonic the Hedgehog was a big success for Archie, and readership remained high throughout its run. The introduction of Knuckles the Echidna in 1994 led to a separate 32-issue comic series starting in 1997, and in 2009 the Sonic Universe series was spun-off to better flesh out Sonic's world. Archie would also develop tie-in comics for TV show Sonic X in 2005 and sub-franchise Sonic Boom in 2014.
The series also had two major crossovers with Mega Man (whose comic book rights had been acquired by Archie) in 2013 and 2015, respectively, the latter of which acknowledged many Sega and Capcom video game properties.
Between January 2009 and October 2015, Sega and Archie Comics faced a number of legal cases directed by former Sonic writer Ken Penders over the rights of characters he created for the comic series. From late 2012, settlements made in court resulted in the comic's continuity being heavily rewritten after the events of issue #247, and a number of characters created and used by Penders (and other writers such as Karl Bollers) were removed from any further use or reference from the comic, including reprints.
Archie's Sonic the Hedgehog series typically featured one story per issue, and a letters feature known as "Sonic-grams". Earlier issues would also have one or two page comedy skits, though these were phased out towards the end of 1994. For the most part, issues contained stand-alone adventures for the first two years with very little overall continuity, however this soon changed, with an overarching story with major plot-changing events established in 1995. It was also around this time where stories started being split across multiple issues.
Archie used newspaper-grade paper for all of its Sonic comics up until issue #212. Older issues have since been recompiled as part of the Sonic the Hedgehog Archives, Sonic Select and Sonic Legacy series.
Sonic Super Special issues
Free Comic Book Day issues
Sonic the Hedgehog Presents: Princess Sally issues
Sonic the Hedgehog's Buddy Tails issues
Sonic's Friendly Nemesis Knuckles issues
Sonic Quest: The Death Egg Saga issues