"Sharper than a cyber-razor cut!"
Sonic the Comic was a comic strip-turned-comic book created by Egmont Fleetway that ran from 1993 to 2001, as the definitive British version of Sonic the Hedgehog. An official Sega comic, the publication starred Sonic the Hedgehog and every issue featured one of his adventures. As well as Sonic and his friends, STC originally included stories based on other popular Sega franchises, such as Shinobi and Streets of Rage. These were eventually phased out in favour of more Sonic-centric stories.
The comic was started by Richard Burton, who had previously worked on 2000AD. With Sonic at his peak of popularity, Burton began the comic, marketing it as a computer games comic. STC began selling for 95p, which eventually rose to £1.50 for the final issue. In this time, the comic ran for 223 issues, not including nine editions of Sonic the Poster Mag, four Summer Specials, a Knuckles the Echidna-themed edition and even an Eternal Champions Special.
In Issue 140, the editorial staff made the decision of reducing the number of original strips per issue to three, replacing the fourth strip with a reprint of an older, "classic" story. This fell to two in Issue 155 and, by Issue 157, only one original strip appeared per issue. Issue 185 was the first to be completely filled by reprints, although the Graphic Zone and Speedlines appeared from time to time, as well as the occasional free gift and competition. Issue 223 was the final issue, with STC ceasing to be published.
Originally, STC was planned to have just one Sonic story and three others starring other Sega properties. Issue 1 only had three strips, but Issue 2 began the tradition of having four stories, namely Sonic, Shinobi, The Legend of the Golden Axe and Wonder Boy. After considerable pressure from fans, Tails was given two of his own stories in quick succession, although it would still be a while longer until two Mobian stories would be the norm.
Throughout the comic's early days, a number of "Sega Superstars" passed into STC history, with Streets of Rage and Shinobi proving to be the most popular and regular. Decap Attack, a series largely produced by Nigel Kitching, was so successful that it lasted until Issue 132, far longer than any other "non-Sonic" strip. By Issue 60, Superstars series were being phased out, with only one appearing on a regular basis. Aside from Decap, the last one was The Curse of Zeon, a Shining Force one ending in Issue 78.
By far the most well-remembered stories are the ones taking part on Mobius (or, at times, in space or Planet Earth]]. Although Sonic had a story every issue, Tails was also very popular and participated in several large stories in the Nameless Zone and Chemical Plant Zone, although later strips were largely complete stories with no consequences. Knuckles the Echidna also had an extended run, with Knuckles' World Tour of Mobius being one of the most fondly-remember story arcs. After Issue 100, Amy Rose and Tekno the Canary shared many strips together, even travelling through time and space with the Ring of Eternity.
In keeping with the "Sonic" theme, the majority of extra features were suffixed with the word "Zone". The Control Zone was a "welcome screen", where editorial robot Megadroid could welcome "Boomers" to the issue and detail what was inside. For much of the comic's run, this would also feature the Sega Charts, a look at the top ten best-selling games for each Sega console.
Other regular features included the Graphic Zone (a collection of readers' art, usually revolving around a topical theme), Speedlines (letters and pictures from readers), Review Zone (reviews of new video games), News Zone (previews of new games and consoles) and the Q Zone (tips and hints for popular games). More features were exclusive to certain issues, such as interviews and competitions.
Throughout the years, a number of "Humes" have contributed to the comic. Nigel Kitching is considered to the most popular writeron the team, especially when working with artist Richard Elson. Lew Stringer is another long-running writer who shared writing duties with Kitching for much of STC's run. Other writers include Mark Eyles, Alan McKenzie and Mark Millar. There has also been a wealth of artists, including Nigel Dobbyn, Roberto Corona, Carl Flint and Mick McMahon, to name just a few.
Editorial staff has also changed frequently. Deborah Tate replaced Burton to become the longest-serving editor on the comic. She was briefly succeeded by Steve MacManus before Andy Diggle arrived to oversee the last few original stories. MacManus then continued to serve as managing editor. Several other roles have been credited throughout STC's history, with Gary Knight being the most prominent designer. Audrey Wong is also an important member of the team, occupying a number of editorial roles.
Sonic the Comic Online
Following the demise of the print comic, a group of fans conspired to create Sonic the Comic Online, an online continuation of STC. Originally termed as "unofficially official", STCO was not affiliated with Sega but had the blessing and encouragement of several former STC staff. Events from the original comic have continued on to the online edition, which is currently on Issue 277. More characters from recent Sonic games have been introduced, such as Shadow the Hedgehog, Blaze the Cat and Silver the Hedgehog. Non-Sonic strips are also published.
Differences between American canon
Sonic the Comic set itself apart from the Archie Comics and video game depictions of Sonic, but still utilizing elements of Western Sonic media as it's basis (which was still being developed and therefore there wasn't a whole lot to draw from anyways), such as the setting being Mobius, the protagonists being called the Freedom Fighters, Dr. Robotnik being a cold, intimidating, threatening villain and competent dictator who'd already conquered the world with his robotic empire, leaving Sonic and co. as an underground resistance. With only a basis, Fleetway had freedom to fill in the gaps with new aspects unique to their own canon, the most glaring and drastic being Super Sonic's portrayal as a homicidal, superpowered, evil split-personality from Sonic himself as the Chaos Emeralds were permiated with accumulated negativity, who'd come to be one of Mobius' greatest threats and therefore something best avoided, Robotnik having a quite hideous lacky in the form of Grimer, who unlike Robotnik's trecherous nephew Snively from the US cartoon Sonic SatAM, was entirely loyal (up until the very end). Other drastic differences were Sonic and Robotnik's backstory, based on an early draft from US developers.
The story was that Sonic was originally brown and only could run a little faster than others, while Robotnik was actually a kindly humanitarian scientist named Doctor Ovi Kintobor who worked underground was for the benefit of the world, by using an invention called the Retro Orbital Chaos Compressor (R.O.C.C.) and the Chaos Emeralds to rid Mobius of evil and ill intent from the hearts of it's residents. One of Kintorbor's inventions going awry while testing Sonic's speed caused Sonic to gain his blue color and was given his frictionless red sneakers by Kintobor to better maximize his speed. Kintobor would become Robotnik due to his klutziness resulting in him falling on top of the R.O.C.C while it was in process of extracting negative energies, therefore causing the corrupted Chaos Energy to merge him with the essence of a rotten egg, transforming him into the evil Ivo Robotnik.