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Was the 90's Sonic fandom in the west really dominated by the cartoons and comics?

Discussion in 'General Sonic Discussion' started by Frostav, Sep 27, 2021.

  1. Frostav


    I was born in 1995, I didn't start playing video games until I was about 6, and my first ever console was the gamecube. My first Sonic fandom was in the SA2B-spawned "modern" fandom where nobody knew what the hell a dreamcast was or found the thought of Sonic on Nintendo hardware to be anything mind-blowing. So, when resident member @Josh, in his recent (excellent as always) Sonic Jam video mentioned that in the 90's, the fandom overwhelmingly was centered around the comics and cartoons (specifically, SATAM), I found that really surprising. Now I'm not saying Josh was wrong: he was there, but I always thought the fandom was more an even split back then. After all, the modern classic side of the fanbase (lord that sounds weird) is nigh-exclusively focused on the games (that is, they're the descendants of the "SegaSonic" people). You ask me, or hell most gamers, to imagine a classic Sonic fan, you will universally get a person who is obsessed with momentum physics and level design, and who views the western spinoffs as basically not mattering in the slightest.

    So what even happened to the SATAM/comics people? They clearly cared more about story and characters, but they didn't become or get folded into the modern/Adventure side of the fandom: I was there for that, and that side basically didn't care about anything pre-SA2B*. Josh said that people would commonly call Sonic "Sonic Maurice Takeshi Hedgehog" without explanation in the 90's, but by like 2003-2005, I guarantee that none of us on deviantart would have the slightest goddamn clue what the hell that meant. So, did this side of the fandom just, like, die that suddenly and abruptly? Did they get folded back into the "SegaSonic" (side note: that video was the first I ever learned of that being a thing outside of the arcade game called that) side? This is really fascinating because I had no idea that SATAM and the comics were that dominant. They have left almost zero actual impact on the fandom or the wider gaming community's perception of Sonic.

    *: now that I mention it, I DO remember there always being these singular weirdos obsessed with Sally and other comic characters mingling with us Adventure kids, but they were pretty much all regarded as weird old people with inexplicable tastes
  2. Taylor


    I'm your age, but from what I can remember, I think SATAM/comics people did have a fair amount of influence that has definitely dwindled over time. I base this off seeing some pretty dedicated SATAM communities in the mid-00s. Also worth noting that Sonic Cult had on their frontpage something like "yea dude we aren't one of those bullshit comics/cartoon websites!!!" which only really makes sense if that sorta content was really popular at that time :P

    As for where all those fans went, I imagine they just moved on with their life. If you were an active part of the Sonic fandom posting online in the 90s, then you're likely in your late 30s or even early 40s. People change and let go of interests, especially if they end up having kids and such. Even those that still post online likely frolic different communities than 20-somethings, such as Facebook groups or secluded message boards, not Twitter or Reddit.

    I think this might just be a result of fandoms & the internet as a whole in the age of social media moving very rapidly.
  3. doc eggfan

    doc eggfan

    Are you pondering what I'm pondering? Wiki Sysop
    GreatMegaLD, GreatSC3k, Great SG1k
    It is probably more an American thing. In Australia during the 90s, my fandom was largely centred around the games. I caught the occasional episode of the AoSTH cartoon, but SaTAM was never shown at a good timeslot, always stupidly early like 6am on Saturday, and was often gazumped by televised Golfing tournaments. I think I had some random issue of the Archie comic, but American imports weren't cheap or commonly found. There were a few books that featured Sally Acorn, and it is interesting to note that that SegaWorld Sydney went with Sally as their female mascot just prior to the release of the Dreamcast and Sonic Adventure.
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2021
  4. Laura


    Brightened Eyes Member
    So this was just my perspective, but when I was a kid, Sonic was just Sonic. Didn't matter if it was games, cartoons, or VHS tapes.

    I used to read Fleetway STC a lot and never thought it was separate from the games. At that age I didn't know what 'canon' was and just took everything for what it was.
  5. Overlord


    Now playable in Smash Bros Ultimate Moderator
    Long-term happiness
    There's also the obligatory Anglosphere angle that American pop culture will sound louder than the overall impact might have been. Random example: Next to no-one gave a shit about Archie in the UK because it simply didn't exist here in any meaningful form. Ask someone in the UK in their late 20s or early to mid 30s about "the Sonic comic" and you'll hear talk about Shortfuse the Cybernik and Tekno the Canary, not Bunny Rabbot or Antoine.
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  6. Black Squirrel

    Black Squirrel

    no reverse gear Wiki Sysop
    Northumberland, UK
    steamboat wiki
    It was something to talk about.

    I'm not sure I'd characterise it as "dominating" the "fandom" because there wasn't much of an internet to help obsess over these things. They were just things that existed, like Sonic the Hedgehog bedspreads and lunchboxes.

    As far as I recall, AoStH was relegated to that weird 4AM timeslot pretty quickly in the UK. My neighbours will know the one - if you were up at that time, you didn't know if you were watching TV or having a fever dream:

  7. qwertysonic


    creating the biggest sonic collection
    As an American Sonic fan in the 90's I didn't even know the cartoons existed. I had heard of the comics, but never read any any. The games were the only parts of the fandom that I or my friends knew.
  8. I watched the cartoons on tv, but was baffled why sonic had a mohawk, why everything looked different to the game art, and why he sounded like an absolute bellend :V

    But like Overlord said, that might be because I am also in the UK. Most of my friends at school also thought it was a bit crap. I think the art direction was probably confusing for the European audience, as it was made primarily for the US, so followed the US art aesthetic and story threads (but I could be wrong there).

    No disrespect though to anyone that did enjoy it, or are fans of it of course

    I do remember taping a few episodes to a VHS that had Coronation Street taped on it (a bad UK soap) and when Mum found out she whacked me round the head

    Sonic The Comic was the shit though!! We all loved that
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2021
  9. Mecha Sally

    Mecha Sally

    Another American fan here, specifically one who grew up inhaling SatAM/Archie and all the online stuff that came with it. Those continuities definitely seemed to dominate the fandom back then, but then again that seemed to be mainly in English-speaking circles (and as others have pointed out above, mostly in the US too). I remember going onto Yahoo and to the directory they had for Sonic the Hedgehog and almost all the sites there leaned towards SatAM/Archie. Fanfiction from that era was definitely all based on the U.S. cartoons/comics. I don't recall seeing a single fanfic that took place in the video game universe (what little one it had). I think the first game universe-only story I read was NetRaptor's adaptation of S3&K, and I don't think that came out until the early 2000's.

    That's not to say the games were ignored; I remember Sonic the Webhog and I think some other sites having game-specific things on their sites. Like Taylor said, Sonic Cult proudly boasted about not being one of those sites (I specifically remember it saying it wasn't a "sucky ass Freedom Fighter site" or something like that, and that the site was for the "real fans").

    I think the discovery of the Sonic 2 Beta ROM and the rise of all the secrets/hacking sites in the late 90's helped bring the game side of things a bit more to the front. When the Adventure games came out and Sega started to seriously try and establish some continuity with the games, things definitely began to shift more towards that direction, especially since the 90's cartoons were off the air by that point (except maybe AoStH reruns on Toon Disney) and the Archie comic seemed to become obscured and only appealing to the die-hard fans of that universe. So the younger fans are probably more likely to have grown up with just the games and maybe the Sonic X anime. Nowadays no one under the age of 15-20 will probably have seen the 90's cartoons or read an issue of Archie unless they happened to be exposed to it.
  10. JaxTH


    Pudding Deity Oldbie
    Los Angeles
    Jack shit.
    The American side was dominated by SatAM pretty much, yeah. There were like, no AoStH sites that I remember during that time besides one, and that one was a technicality because it was a "continuation series" of it.

    I think sites like Sonic HQ may have had a healthy balance but I actually only REALLY remember the comic news posts with their solicites and posting of unfinished/in-production artworks, etc.

    And yeah, I remember Sonic being called Takeshi. The old days were truly fun.
  11. Hivebrain


    53.4N, 1.5W
    I think the first time it was shown in the UK was part of The Big Breakfast, along with Biker Mice From Mars. They split each episode up into 5 or 10 minute chunks, of which they'd show one per day.

    SatAM I'd never even heard of until I got the internet in 2000. In fact, I knew about the OVA (from Sonic Jam) before SatAM.
  12. Metalwario64


    I was born in 90, and my early years were dominated with consuming video game cartoons from the late 80s and early 90s. Every Mario cartoon, AoSTH, Captain N. I even saw one or two SatAM episodes and was unaware it was it's own show, and assumed it was some later, darker season of AoSTH or something. I didn't really remember I had seen it until I saw the opening and some clips of it on YouTube years later when it all came running back to me. I think it was the first time I heard the word "attitude", me being so young at the time of viewing it. :P
  13. Josh


    GREAT post, and yeah, that's how I remember it going, too. I remember being really surprised by how much spotlight the fandom put on SatAM when I first got online in 1995, and correspondingly, how much they seemed to hate on AoStH, because it was all just "Sonic" to me, and I loved Sonic in all its forms!

    But it makes sense in hindsight: SatAM appealed to a slightly older demographic, and the Sonic series was still new enough that almost nobody online HAD grown up with it, at best you still WERE growing up with it. SatAM was almost synonymous with being a Sonic fan on the internet in the 90s. It was inescapable. Even the games were often analyzed through that lens. While people were aware of the overseas "SegaSonic" canon (so weird how they call Robotnik "Eggman" over there, how could you take that seriously!?), just about everything in the fandom revolved around SatAM until the late 90s. The Freedom Fighters, the planet Mobius, Roboticizers and coups and Uncle Chuck... Princess Sally was, no joke, probably THE single most popular character among fans for years and years. You also have to remember, Archie/StC were basically the primary output of the series through the Saturn years, which coincided with the early internet becoming mainstream. It seems like whenever there's a lull between games, the fandom ends up focusing on the story/character aspects in lieu of having anything else to discuss, haha.

    And even though I was always a fan of the games first and foremost, you might be able to imagine why it was QUITE a fracture point when the Adventure games established a worldwide canon, and those elements, locations, and characters that were so integral to the way fans of the day thought about Sonic not only went away, they were basically unknown and unappreciated by huge swaths of the next generation. As for where they went, I mean... it varies, right? Some of them DID get folded into the Archie fandom, some of them joined us here on Retro in obsessing over the gameplay mechanics, some of them jumped off the series when it stopped feeling like Sonic to them, some of them are still around! But they, like every other niche in the fandom, eventually tended to get overshadowed by whichever niche was making the most noise.

    That "modern classic" fandom has its roots around 1998, when people started coalescing around uncovering the secrets and cut content of the 16-bit classics. Through this effort of digging deep into the mechanics of how the games worked, the fangaming/hacking scene started taking off, and this particular focus on the technical aspects of the series is why, as Frostav said, classic fans have such a reputation of prioritizing gameplay above all else (and WE were the niche making the most noise by the late 2000s). Especially here on Retro, some degree of interest in that stuff was literally a prerequisite for becoming a member for a long time, so it's something that unites most of us oldbies. (I believe you still had to pass a quiz about the inner workings of Sonic game physics back when I signed up, haha.)
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2021
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  14. JaxTH


    Pudding Deity Oldbie
    Los Angeles
    Jack shit.
    I assume this is still being done by those from Sonique's website?

    I know this started out as comics before they got rid of those and redid them at least.
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  15. Sid Starkiller

    Sid Starkiller

    Virginia, USA
    Paying off student loans
    Born in 87. I never actually remembered when or what channel AoSTH was on (approximately when I got home from school, that's about it), so I only ever caught the occasional episode when channel surfing. It was neat, but I was always about the games. I didn't know about SATAM until years later ("wait, there were two Sonic shows?"), and Underground later than that ("there were THREE Sonic shows?!"). I also had 1 or 2 picture books set of those 2 universes, fuck me which was which.
  16. Wildcat


    I’m 36 in the US. I was always about both the games and Cartoons/Comics. I watched SatAm early in the mornings, Adventures in the afternoon and collected the comic up until around mid 2000s. I couldn’t find them here anymore and completely lost track. Found Underground later on in reruns.

    I have 2 of those picture Golden Books also. They’re set in the SatAm universe. Interesting how they’re numbered after the games. I have Up Against the Wall but I forgot the other. I think Shoes Blues.
    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    I also have these.

    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    I think I got them from the Book It program they had through school.
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  17. Asagoth


    Behold! The mighty, the flawless, salted cod eater Member
    wiki stuff... and a beer... or two... or more...
    Yes, I'm a 90s dude (more a mid 80s/90s dude) ... Yes I followed AoStH and SatAM religiously on weekend mornings ... Yes, I knew and played the classic Sonic games (except Chaotix) ... No, I never heard of the comics at the time, so I never read any of them...
  18. McAleeCh


    They originally aired full-length episodes for a while - I actually have a diary entry describing the first episode from the week it aired, complete with a badly-drawn picture - but a bit later on they wrapped them into The Big Breakfast and started splitting them up in the manner you describe. "Grounder the Genius" is the first episode I remember seeing in split form, so that may have been the first to suffer that treatment - I can't be sure though, as I missed the first 5-minute segment of that one so was playing catch-up on the plot as best I could, haha...!

    SatAM definitely aired on terrestrial TV within a year or so of AoSTH, as I remember watching and taping all the episodes of Season 1 as a small kid. I don't remember seeing Season 2 until much later though - I accidentally tuned in in the middle of an airing of one part of "Blast to the Past". Think that was a few years later - and may not have been on terrestrial TV, as depending on the year we would finally have access to other channels in my house - but I definitely didn't see more than a few episodes so don't have much useful info there.

    The fact I didn't religiously watch the remainder of the season makes me think it was a good couple of years later that I caught that airing, since I fell out of Sonic for a bit post-'94 - occasionally dipped in and out of the comic and replayed the Mega Drive games once I bought my friend's Mega Drive off him, but I wasn't religously into it like I had been. Eventually I got swept back in by the hype for the announcement of Sonic Adventure. So it's probably sometime between '95-'97 that I caught that airing.
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2021
  19. Jason


    *Results not lab tested. Member
    I was born in 1990, and got into Sonic in 1996, so I wasn't particularly current with the franchise, but SATAM and AoStH were still in syndication for many years after their initial runs. I definitely had schoolmates who had watched the shows, too. I even brought a VHS of AoStH to show-and-tell in 3rd grade. But I was the biggest Sonic fan in class, so I don't know how much of which side of the franchise was liked by everyone else. I know I'd pick up a comic from the shop in the local mall, be very confused, and put it back. Multiple times. I wasn't getting into online fandoms until the mid-00s, so I couldn't speak for them. But the sites I'd go to in the late 90s, like The Sonic Foundation and SonicHQ, as well as the official Sega website, didn't make a whole lot of mention of the comics or shows from what I recall.
  20. Fuck, The Big Breakfast! And Biker Mice from Mars, completely forgot about those, my memory is rubbish. Stop the mop

    One thing I will give the Sonic cartoon is that I've never forgotten Sonic's guitar/rap song on one episode - way past cool
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2021