Unfortunately, the most recent BumbleKast was delayed between Ian Flynn‘s busy schedule and Kyle Crouse dealing with a bout of pneumonia, but to make up for it, he is gifting us with an extra long question and answer bonanza! Ian answered a plethora of questions from fan, and you can listen to the whole episode below! Get ready because there are a lot of questions even when just transcribing those relevant to IDW Sonic below!
The theme of this episode seems to be Ian’s intent to stick to canon and avoid going into specifics anywhere SEGA has not been clear. This however, covers large swaths of the Sonic landscape. Reflecting upon this, it makes it all the more amazing that Flynn can pull together such quality books while traversing such complex terrain!
Q: Hi, Ian! Reading the latest issue of Sonic and seeing Silver saying, “Oh crap!” got me thinking. Unless I’m mistaken, I think this was the first time a Sonic character in any official Sega-licensed product has said ‘crap’, or anything stronger than “Oh geeze,” with the obvious exception of the Shadow the Hedgehog game. Fan-created material is obviously a whole different story, but I highly doubt any characters would have been allowed to say ‘crap’ back in the Sonic comics of the ’90’s, or even in the comics in 2005 when Shadow the Hedgehog came out. So I was wondering: what do you feel is and is not okay to put in a comic book for kids these days, and how does that differ from what was not allowed in the past? Oh, and also: is Silver going to start asking where that DAMN fourth Chaos Emerald is? I don’t think Shadow would appreciate Silver stepping on his turf.
A: No, Silver’s not going to start doing that because it really would be especially adorably dorky of him. I mean, Shadow’s all grim and dark, “Where’s that damn 4th Chaos Emerald? Silver is not; Silver is “adorkable”, “Where’s that damn 4th Chaos Emerald? It just doesn’t read right. I remember seeing a lot of these reactions when the issue came out, and this is where we’re all going to have to agree to disagree. I don’t see “crap” as a curse word. Silver did not say a “swear”. It’s a terse, no, not terse; it’s not a polite term, but it’s not like an out-and-out swear word. It is an euphemism for stuff we usually won’t say on the show. It’s stronger than “doodoo”, but it is definitely non-bleepable territory. That and with that particular scene, “Oh no!” just felt hollow to me. What they have discovered is too big to be just, “Oh gosh, snuggaly bum bums!” It’s, “Oh crap!”, so that’s what it is.
I do remember having some back and forth with various editors on the old run on the usage of the word and if it was acceptable or not. What was OK under one publishing house is not OK under another and vice versa. It depends on where you go. So to me, “crap” is kind of the upper limit of potty mouthery you can do in a kids comic. It’s just enough of an edge to maybe make some of the more sheltered childrens go “Oooh, he said the word!” While the rest of us are going, “What? Ah? Ya, he said the word, so what?
I think there’s a much larger discussion to be had there over etymology in general and the origin of swear words, and what powers words are given to us within their social context and yada yada yada, but that’s like a whole discussion for an episode. This is just, he said a word that some people wouldn’t use in polite company, and others use without batting an eyelash, and most people just let it roll.
I too did not bat an eyelash when Silver uttered the word “crap”. Granted, I am a full grown adult and have been exposed to enough “mature” language to be able to tolerate it. Without getting into that full discussion Ian mentioned, some words are just considered taboo or at least impolite by society for whatever reason. Outside of the context of that society they are just sounds we make with our mouths. We ascribe meaning and value to it as a culture or as individuals. “Swears” or “curses” are just those word society has put on a “blacklist”, so to speak.
Ultimately, “crap”, a PG term, is equivalent to it’s more PG-13 counterpart or its G rated version, “Oh no.” It has the same exact meaning, a euphemism, but for some reason is deemed an acceptable word to use, while the other is not. However, one difference, as Ian pointed out, is the intensity. By using a word that is slightly less acceptable, it gives the statement a bit more weight. When telling a story, one would expect the characters’ speech to reflect their personalities. It would be jarring and unbelievable if a hardened criminal spoke used silly euphemisms, for example.
Personally, while I hold to the opinion that the meaning you are trying to communicate is more important than the words you use, I try not to use swears in polite company. However, it is natural for someone to use more intense expletives when startled or scared than they normally would. The fear and surprise lower your inhibitions and the exclamation helps you to deal with the sudden stress. While this might not have been normal language for Silver, his “slip up” relays the shock and surprise the character experienced.
Regardless, I do not think we need to worry about Sonic characters going down the slippery slope into becoming obscene potty mouths.
Q: I understand you won’t say specifically if a character will appear or not in IDW comics, but could you at least update us on the usability of the Modern Sonic game characters that were unusable for unknown reasons in the Archie comics? For example will Eggman’s descendant, Eggman Nega, be off-limits for the IDW comics like he was for Archie comics?
A: I honestly don’t know. The series is still very new, so I haven’t had an opportunity to ask or push certain characters. Some characters that were approved for a story at one point were then rescinded at another point and we had to revise. I don’t think it’s a matter of ‘these characters are off the table’, it was more like ‘we don’t want them in this story arc for reasons.’ As of right now, as far as I know, any character that is alive, is on that table, but really it is going to be a case by case basis. Since I don’t want to rush through the entire modern cast just to put them in the book, we’ll just have to wait and see.
It’s good to have some assurance that the entire Modern cast is on the table. I think the pace that they have been introducing characters is perfectly fine, and I would not even mind slowing it down a bit from the current average of 2 per issue. Most importantly, this gives me hope that it is only a matter of time before Big the Cat returns in all his glory!
Q: Ok, this has confused me for some time, now.
The first issue of IDW Sonic has flashbacks to previous Sonic games. They appear to show Sonic Adventure 1, Sonic Heroes, Sonic Unleashed, and Sonic Forces, in that order. Then issue #5 of IDW also has flashbacks, Sonic Adventure 1, Sonic Adventure 2, Sonic Generations, and Sonic Unleashed, in that order. The flashbacks are all in chronological order, except for Sonic Unleashed being placed in between Sonic Generations and Sonic Forces. I wouldn’t think anything of it, except the book Welcome to the World of Sonic lists the games in the same order, appearing to list them in chronological order, but ending the list with “Sonic Generations, Sonic Lost World, Sonic and the Secret Rings, Sonic and the Black Knight, Sonic Unleashed, Sonic and Sega All-Stars Racing Transformed,” Are the Flashbacks in issue 5 not in chronological order, or does Sonic Unleashed happen in between Sonic Generations/Sonic Lost World and Sonic Forces?
A: 1) Those scenes are not in any particular order. They’re just flashback scene that say hey remember this? Wasn’t this cool or exciting or dramatic
2) The comics are inspired by the game events, but they are not continuations of them. Yes, the initial arc is heavily inspired and influenced by Sonic Forces, but it should not be taken as the canon continuation of that story. So, if you see references to previous game events, it’s kind of in a broad strokes sort of thing. It’s like, OK, that generally happened in the past, cool, move on. If it doesn’t quite sync up with the game stuff, congratulations, you have found brand-new comic exclusive continuity. The comics are their own thing.
Once again, Flynn needs to confirm that the comics are their own continuity inspired by the games yet separate from them. While Flynn is not bound to the events of the games, it is clear that he is attempting not to conflict with established canon from the past. I imagine this is the reason why he uses a “broad strokes” approach in referencing past Sonic adventures. It allows him to build off them and their consequences as he has already done without being locked into it as hard canon. This allows him freedom to focus on building forward. Interestingly, Flynn never directly references any past events, but only depicts snapshots of past scenes in the artwork, further generalizing the events.
While Flynn has cleverly left himself plenty of wiggle room by leaving things vague, building forward into the future will prove much more difficult, as the IDW canon will inherently begin to diverge from current canon without direct guidance from SEGA. But again, that is perfectly fine, because the comic is its own world!
Q: If Sally Acorn and the Freedom Fighters do make it to IDW Sonic in 2019, will they keep their post SUPER GENESIS WAVE looks or get an IDW makeover?
A: I don’t know. That’s up to SEGA really. I would not hold my breath looking for them in 2019, so let’s not worry about that right now.
Another question from Princess Sally’s biggest fan. Beyond whether or not they will be appearing in 2019, would they get a new look for the new series? Flynn quickly avoided this question and bluntly lowered expectations. It would seem we are not going to see them anytime soon, if at all.
Personally, I am fine with this. At this point, with this cast, in this world, I do not think there is a place for them. I cannot see them being the characters they were before without the significant spotlight they had in the Archie series. Perhaps one day if the world becomes expansive enough for them, they could return, but I just do not feel that now is the time, nor do I expect SEGA to have much interest in doing so when they could be promoting characters that will actually be appearing in their games.
Q: I would like to know if any the villages Sonic visited have names?
A: No they don’t, simply because in the old books, anything and everywhere had a name. Everything had all this world building put on it even if it didn’t matter and some people critiqued that as being needless clutter, and I kind of see where they’re coming from. With the opening arc, this villages may never be seen again. Tangle’s will, at some point, because Tangle’s hugely popular, and we will be coming back to her town and that will get a name, obviously, because it is a setting that will have a meaning and a purpose, but the other ones weren’t going to be reoccurring settings. So, in my mind, tacking a name onto them was just making useless wiki fluff. It’s kind of like in some of the older books, you’d have the pilot of the plane named something even though that character was never to be seen before or after. That isn’t world building. That is not character crafting. That is not making a more immersive world. It’s just fluff. The villages in the first pass do not have names, but area we are going to return to and are going to have a narrative purpose will be named.
Once again, Flynn allows himself wiggle room by being vague. I am fine with this method, it allows readers to gauge the importance of a locations based on how much information is given. Why waste valuable page space expounding on things that are not relevant. Likewise, it is a much more natural method of world building to expand on revisited locations or characters as the book progresses. In the world, those towns have names, but learning those names and discovering more about the locales themselves are something to delve into when it enhances the story or progresses or further sets up the plot.
Q: How is Silver able to jump freely between past and future? I assumed Chaos Emeralds are needed, but he seems to be lacking one.
A: I don’t know. Until the games give me a distinct answer, I’m going to follow suit and say he finds a way. At this point, if I try to come up with anything else, I’m just begging for it to get retconned at some point. He has a ways of doing it. The Time Stones exist. Dual Chaos control exists. He does it somehow. It hasn’t ever been really been crucial to any story outside of 06. So, I’m content to wait until SEGA says this is how he does it and role with that, than try to figure it out myself again, and be told, ‘no that’s wrong’. So, we are just going to wait and see.
This essentially confirms for me what I was positing from the last couple of questions. Although the comic is its own continuity, Flynn has a strong desire to keep it in line with official canon whenever and where ever possible. So far, he has navigated this challenging task well, with no apparent contradictions from established canon, and vague enough settings and plot devices to minimize the risk of future paradoxes.
Q: Will there be more of a rogues gallery besides Eggman and anyone under him in IDW? We just have Metal Sonic (who I count under Eggman’s rule) and Rough/Tumble (who I recall that they were hinted to join somebody’s side, who I assume is Eggman).
A: Rough and Tumble were free agents, but they will definitely be open to other alternatives in their attempts to get revenge on Sonic and Knuckles. We may build a greater rogues’ gallery. It’s hard to say since we’re 8 issues into the new run. I like to plan ahead, you know me, but you have to keep in mind that not everything I plan gets approved. So, I’m not going to say, “Yes, definitely were going to have the Battle Bird Armada show up in year 5!”, because I have no idea. That all depends on what SEGA let’s us do. Now, I do want to explore other antagonistic forces beyond Eggman, because if everything is Eggman, it gets a little repetitive, but that’s not a steadfast, “yes, we’re going to have this new villainous force out of nowhere.” Give it time. Let’s finish Year 1 and see what Year 2 has in store before we think about going too nuts.
It seems they are referencing the Kotaku article where editor David Mariotte introduces Rough and Tumble, noting that they are not masterminds, but are powerful enough to become someone else’s henchmen down the line. While this has a taste of foreshadowing, it does not mean they will become someone’s underlings, but only that they have the potential to do so. We saw in issue #3 that while they are strong and clever, they do not necessarily have the highest ambitions or foresight.
While the Archie series had an extensive rogues’ gallery, many of which were exclusive to the comic. Sonic is not lacking in foes derived from game canon. In fact, its interesting that Eggman has not yet even been an antagonistic force in the book’s run thus far, and that Neo Metal Sonic is the big bad, despite his loyalty to the empire. I’m sure we will see villains new and old popping up when we least suspect it just like Eggman and Metal have already!
Q: Does your viewpoint of Blaze being from the future, sealed into the Sol Zone, and her history having been rewritten to having always been from the Sol Zone thanks to Iblis’ erasure still exist? Has it changed at all? I remember you mentioning this once?
A: It’s something I keep coming back to and wrestling with, because it bugs me that she seals Iblis into herself, goes into another dimension, and that’s it. It’s never referenced again, and it’s sorely tempting to play with that aspect of Iblis within her, but that is way, way deep into the SEGA needs to lay down the ground rules for that territory. I can fudge a lot of stuff. I can insert what I want here and there, but I feel like Blaze’s relationship to the Sol Dimension, to Iblis, to the Sol Emeralds, all of that. I think that needs to come from SEGA. I definitely have ideas of how I would like to tack it, but I feel like that’s too deep in the weeds, that’s playing too much with someone else’s toys.
A theme emerges! Once again, Flynn avoids going into details on subjects that SEGA has not adequately explained in their games. Unfortunately, things that SEGA has not adequately explained abound in Sonic games!
Q: Did you notice that the sprite for Ray is as tall at Sonic and Mighty? I guess canonically he is about the same age as them and not Tails. Does that mean any future potential appearance in the comic would have him the same as in Mania?
A: Ya! If we ever do anything with the Classic era, we’ll be following what is the new standard. I don’t know where the idea of Ray being came from short of the comics. I feel like that was a comic exclusive idea that kind of permeated the collective consciousness and kind of endured. It did throw me for a loop to see him just paling around with Might and Sonic as if he was just another one of the guys, that’s weird, but they are back in an official capacity, the most official capacity perhaps ever, arguably. Ray is, I guess, the same as Mighty and Sonic, and I guess we’ll just have to get used to that.
Flynn again mentions his openness to potentially doing a series based on the Classic Sonic universe. I wish Ray and especially Mighty could somehow make the jump to Modern as well, but I hope we get to see more of these characters beyond the Sonic Mania Adventures!
Q: I was just wondering if you know if there is any possible way that any of the characters from the Archie comics or IDW comics can appear in the games or if Archie characters can appear in the IDW comics?
A: That is entirely up to SEGA, and if Archie has any control of the comic exclusive characters, I don’t know. It’s a bit of a tangled mess that I only kind of have some insight on, so I don’t really want to comment on it, because I don’t know.
Q: Is there a chance of Tangle and Whisper coming to the mainline Sonic games for some story innovation?
A: Entirely up to SEGA. I would be really happy if anything IDW Sonic made it into the games, but that is not up to me. When we were designing the characters, it’s with them being game characters in mind. I actively designed them with the thought process of how would they appear in a game setting, and Tangle is basically the avatar character without the Wispon. I mean it’s a grappling hook thing.
Another oft repeated question. Flynn has no plans to bring back any characters because of the complex legal issues involved with the rights in the comic industry.
While SEGA has been highly receptive of the new comic characters, there is no sign of them putting Tangle or Whisper into the games, but they could easily be transplanted into them!
Q: For one of the Sonic IDW comic issues, can one of those upcoming issue comics be one where we’ll finally know about Amy’s family?
A: Most likely not. SEGA is very not keen on introducing family members to the SEGA characters. I know you’re already saying, “…But in the Archie books!” I know, especially pre-reboot, but things change. As I’ve said before, “What is yesterday can be no tomorrow and vice versa. So, as things stand right now, no, we are most likely never going to see any additional family members to any of the characters. Yes, Cream has Vanilla but that is SEGA created, that is not comic created.
Archie was quite notorious for creating family members for many of the characters and giving them various roles, often villanous! However, it seems SEGA does not want their licencors taking such liberties anymore and thus Flynn will be limited it to canon characters only. This is practical, since it avoid contradicting future canon from SEGA and protects their brand from any connotations that such close familiar relations might cast upon a given character.
Q: As I have thankfully been redirected to the proper place by Mr Flynn; In issue 7 of Sonic, what exactly is Metal talking about by “clashed since then”? Last time I checked, he hadn’t appeared in the Sonic timeline after Heroes.
A: Sonic the Hedgehog 4, Sonic Rivals, shoot I know I’m forgetting something, He’s shown up since then.
Q: Please make Silver and Blaze a couple.
Maybe you guys don’t know that, but the most part of the fanbase wants Silver and Blaze together, I beg you Ian Flynn, WE BEG YOU! I LOVE THEM! DON’T DO LIKE SALLY! PLEASE, MAKE THEM A COUPLE! PLEASE! I BEG YOU!
A: No, no, no, no, no, no, no! No shipping! None! I’m done with it! You can set sail with any ship you want, but do not come to me and say the majority of the fanbase wants it, because they do not! They do not! I have seen every corner. I know that the battle flags fly high. For everyone who says, “Oh, absolutely Silver-Blaze is a sure thing!”; there’s someone else saying, “No, no, no, it’s clearly Sonic and Blaze, they’ve set this up!” And now because of the comic there’s just as many saying Blaze and Tangle, and Sonic and Tangle probably. No no no, not shipping. I’m not taking sides. I don’t exist to launch ships. I don’t exist to sink ships. I am not a harbor. If you like a certain pairing, happy for you. Enjoy it, but mm-mm, no, especially with the official characters. unless SEGA says they are together as a smoochums couple, not touching it. I’ve been through that headache. Never again, NEVER again.
As he has stated in previous Q&A’s regarding this topic, Flynn has no desire to promote or even be involved in characters having relationships outside SEGA designated ones. This Q&A’s thread continues to be how Flynn is wary of diverging from Sonic canon and is committed to protecting the brand as SEGA puts it forth, something the Archie comic really let get away from them in times past. Many felt that Sonic’s many tumultuous relationship in the Archie series, were one of the worst aspects of it, needlessly generating drama.
Q: Hi Ian, I was wondering if there will be more Blaze comics in the future. I love your comics.
A: I’m so glad you do. I don’t know if we’ll get any Blaze specific spin-off comics, but Blaze will definitely be showing up in the main series more, and boy howdy, will she be cool!
Q: Are the Babylon Rogues going to appear in a near future? – (I know that you don’t like ’em very much).
A: Where did this come from? I don’t have anything against the Rogues! I think the Rogues can be fun characters. I don’t have any immediate plans for them, but that could change, and I don’t dislike them. I think Zero Gravity is the only fun game they’re featured in.