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. Yash

    Yash

    CHOCOLATE! Member
    528
    83
    28
    Was going to point this out - there just wasn't really much to talk about on the "SegaSonic" side of things for a while in the mid-late 90s. In the US at least, the Archie comics were the only consistent product, and after the cancellation of both SatAM and AoStH (man, even just writing out these acronyms is giving me flashbacks) had firmly planted their feet into the SatAM side of things whereas before they tried to strike a balance between SatAM's lore and AoStH's humor. So that's kind of where the fandom was.

    With the launch of the Dreamcast there was a bit of a new flurry when it came to endless debate over which continuity was better. The OVA's US release was day and date with the Dreamcast, Underground premiered right around then, and the comics were still in full swing. As someone who even unironically enjoyed Underground at the time because hey, new Sonic, there was a ton of flame war shit between the SatAM and Underground fandoms, as well as a divide between the "old guard" SatAM fans who looked down on Archie and its feeble attempts to keep that aspect of the series going while gradually integrating the games' canon into the story.

    Even as someone who considered himself a SatAM fan first and foremost though, I could tell we were ultimately just fighting over table scraps, and the Adventure canon was the only real future the series had. For a franchise that was so often split into so many directions, that period in the mid-00s - with the launch of Heroes, the debut of Sonic X, and the SatAM elements of Archie feeling more and more like quirky artifacts of the comic's beginnings (that I appreciated were still there, mind you) - was the first time it really felt like there was any kind of franchise-wide synergy. I was still a regular poster on FUS at the time and I was starting to feel out of sorts because I just kind of felt fine with it.
     
    • Informative Informative x 2
    • Like Like x 1
    • Agree Agree x 1
    • List
  2. Fadaway

    Fadaway

    Member
    192
    30
    28
    I was a big fan of the games when the animated shows arrived and I didn't like the animated shows at all. I couldn't say which one I liked more as they were both quite bad. They didn't convey what I thought, at the time, Sonic was supposed to be like. I knew Sonic was a blue hedgehog, but I never considered it something that could crossover to standard TV cartoon fare. At least, nothing in the games really indicated it would have worked that way.

    I still say it didn't translate well to television. It was more esoteric than that in the games. Like, I didn't think Sonic would have such a weird voice because ever since Sonic 1 came out, I'd imagined that IF Sonic had a voice at all, he would probably have a very deep voice...not dissimilar to Barry White or maybe Isaac Hayes or someone, not some whiney, chirpy faux teenage voice saying “That's no good.” I was about 13 years old then and AoStH and SatAM were pure cringe for me back then.

    (Ideally, Sonic and other characters should have stayed silent and let each episode be a visual thing with cool music instead of embracing standard 1990s television animation conventions with bad plots, and to this point I say Tyson's Mania Adventures animated shorts are much closer to what I would have liked to see back in the early '90s, so thanks, Tyson!)

    I must have had Sonic all wrong. Or they did. And, they redesigned Robotnik! Everything was just bad to see on TV for me, but others' experiences may vary. Now that it is 2021, that whiney chirpy faux teenage voice has become the norm. Ben Schwartz did a somewhat similar type of voice for the movie (and did a pretty good job, too), so it must be how people think Sonic should sound. I dunno. I had a very different outlook on the character in 1991 and 1992.
     
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2021
  3. HEDGESMFG

    HEDGESMFG

    Oldbie
    410
    158
    43
    Yes, but it was more from a marketing perspective. All USA Sonic merchandise for the first 5 years unified Sonic as looking like the USA Sonic 1 boxart design, so to us as kids, there was no difference between game Sonic and cartoon/comic sonic outside of the variations of specific western interpretations themselves. AOSTH Sonic was every bit as much Sonic to me as Sonic 3 Sonic. This is actually a testament to just how good Sega's marketing was at unifying the brand in the west back then. There's a great documentary about it on Paramount Plus that shows how the Sega/Nintendo rivalry went down (mostly from Sega's perspective, but in this case that's what we're discussing), and it lines up well with a lot of things we already knew.

    The concept of calling Eggman "Robotnik" was impossible to imagine for several years of my fandom, and I didn't even realize game Eggman and AOSTH Robotnik looked so different until the late 90s. And I was 6 when Sonic 1 came out.

    That's just how it was. Sega USA's marketing was a huge, huge, huge influence in the brand on a global scale, while Sonic always had a much more limited reach in Japan.

    It wasn't even until Adventure when the brand was redesigned fully that the influence of DiC/American Sonic finally went away. This was at the same point that Sega USA lost most of its influence on the marketing and Japan essentially took over the brand again, revamping Sonic to be more like what we knew (though to their credit, they did canonize Gerald Robotnik in SA2, unifying a bit of the name discrepency.)
     
  4. Blue Spikeball

    Blue Spikeball

    Member
    1,136
    311
    63
    Can't say I agree. Even as a kid I found a massive disconnect between the games and the cartoons. Like, I was puzzled as to why SatAM had Sonic hanging out with a bunch of characters that never appeared in the games, while Tails was treated as a little kid who was too young to join Sonic in his adventures. Or why the world looked completely different from the games. Instead of being vibrant and having surreal flora, SatAM had a sterile post-apocalyptic world and largely took place in a generic and realistic forest, while AOSTH had abstract environments. Or why the games had so many cool characters and concepts that were nowhere to be seen in the cartoons, like Knuckles, Metal Sonic, the Death Egg, the Chaos Emeralds (ok, these appeared briefly in AOSTH, but they were nigh unrecognizable), Super Sonic. Or why Sonic had a mohawk, unlike in the 3d special stages :V

    Even if you ignore the games and look only at the western media, it was highly inconsistent. The two cartoons had completely different styles and tones. Robotnik and Sally had very different designs across incarnations. The tie in books took place in the SatAM world but had AOSTH Robotnik. Spinball had Sonic with a mohawk in the gameplay but not in the title screen, had characters from both cartoons, and Robotnik looked like a tweaked version of his Japanese design. The Christmas special was based on AOSTH but had Sally and Swatbots. Archie was a similar bizarre mishmash.

    Basically, I noticed all sorts of things back then. Lots of things that puzzled me as a kid started making sense years later when I learned about localizations, like Robotnik using his AOSTH design in the Triple Trouble box art but his game design in the game, or Amy being called Sally in the Sonic CD manual.
     
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2021
  5. There's a reason why chilli dogs are now canon in the games.
     
  6. Yash

    Yash

    CHOCOLATE! Member
    528
    83
    28
    I will say (and I've complained about this before) that Sega of America's insistence on making DiC Robotnik a thing for the video games was stupid as hell and bugs the crap out of me on older box art:

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    It's like... that's not what he looks like in any of the games! Even in Spinball (the Genesis version anyway).
     
  7. The KKM

    The KKM

    Welcome to the nExt level Member
    2,179
    29
    28
    Portugal
    IDW's Sonic the Hedgehog comic books
    Sadly, yes. I say sadly because while obviously people are free to enjoy what they want, there's a sort of aspect of zero-sum game to it- the kids that grew up in the America (please don't use Western interchangeable with American, as we already established things like the UK not having the same connection to Archie etc) dominated franchise are now adults getting to work with the franchise themselves, and veering the franchise in familiar directions they remember. As the poster above says, "there's a reason why chili dogs are canon" (though they've been since 2004 iirc?). And if you didn't grow up with that American vision of the characters and cast, be it the 90s vision or the 2000s Archie vision, it can be endlessly frustrating seeing things veer like that. Only hope is in the next generation that grew up with Sonic X and the Adventure games when they were 4 to come in and re-veer things away lol
     
    • Agree Agree x 1
    • Informative Informative x 1
    • List
  8. Blue Spikeball

    Blue Spikeball

    Member
    1,136
    311
    63
    Agreed. I hate how from Colors onwards Sonic, has been pretty much a completely different character thanks to Pontac writing him like his irritating characterization from the old US adaptations. To me, that's as if Link suddenly started going "Well, excuuuuse me, princess!" in the modern Zelda games.
     
  9. Ayu Tsukimiya

    Ayu Tsukimiya

    UGUU~ Member
    552
    10
    18
    That Spinball cover is so weird to me. Why'd they go out of their way to give Robotnik his DiC design while Sonic got his Japanese look?
     
  10. Yash

    Yash

    CHOCOLATE! Member
    528
    83
    28
    Yeah, I don't know. I whipped this up the last time this came up on here:

    [​IMG]

    It's not perfect (I'd need to color correct Sonic's head) but I always preferred how Sonic looked on the Game Gear cover art. No disrespect to Greg Martin, he was a great artist and as far as I can tell, just following SOA's preferred style guide.
     
  11. The Joebro64

    The Joebro64

    SAY HELLO TO MY CHOCOLATE BLEND Member
    1,488
    656
    93
    as they should be
     
    • Like Like x 8
    • Agree Agree x 1
    • List
  12. Dek Rollins

    Dek Rollins

    size of a tangerine Member
    516
    216
    43
    I honestly hate that chilidogs started showing up in games. It's just dumb.
     
    • Like Like x 1
    • Agree Agree x 1
    • List
  13. Xilla

    Xilla

    Beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep Member
    730
    112
    43
    The Big Breakfast IIRC would show the chopped up AoStH episodes during school holidays starting in Easter 1994, Channel 4 had been showing the full episodes (minus the Sonic Sez segments) in a Sunday 9:30AM slot since November 93. Halfway through the AoStH run they changed over to the first series of SatAM before completing the AoStH run. (I *think* SatAM series 2 didn't even get shown by C4, The Childrens Channel did show it years later though).

    I dunno if the Big Breakfast episodes had previously been shown in full on Sundays though, the only one I really remember was Psuedo Sonic.
     
  14. Metalwario64

    Metalwario64

    Member
    193
    73
    28
    I'm fine with them in the old cartoons and in the Archie comics, since mascot characters back then always had a favorite food associated with them (Turtles' and pizza, Mario and Italian food), but them bringing that into the games always rubbed me the wrong way. It'd kind of be like if Nintendo suddenly made Mario more referential to the old American canon by referencing that cartoon's "two worlds" dynamic (they beat Sega to that by quite a number of years, eh? :P), or made Mario always refer to eating spaghetti in, say, Odyssey 2 or something.
     
  15. grantpa

    grantpa

    Oldbie
    As an American who first started coming online in the mid-90s with AOL, I definitely remember the outsized influence of SatAM/Archie and it's distinction from "Sega Sonic" (which almost seemed like a sub-brand, rather than the main one) at the time.

    When Sonic Adventure 1 finally rolled around and established more of a lore and continuity within the games, it was a huge relief to be able to discard the SatAM/Archie stuff as being clearly a spin-off rather than an extended universe. Also the change from Robotnik to Eggman felt like a validation as well for the Sega Sonic purist fans.

    That's my memory of it, anyway.

    I think Mario still mumbles about pasta dishes in his sleep in Odyssey, as he did in SM64.

    I'm completely fine with chili dogs being in the games. Sonic in the games honestly has so few character traits besides "cool" and "impatient," even a small thing like a favorite food goes a long way toward giving him a bit more personality, imo.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 28, 2021
  16. VectorCNC

    VectorCNC

    Member
    539
    10
    18
    CNC Sculpture/Artwork
    I was born in 87. I became aware of Sonic when I was 5, and then the 2 different cartoons shortly thereafter. I remember being distinctly aware of the different forms of Sonic, and mentally categorized them by levels of “complexity”…

    I thought AoStH was very childish, like one step above care bears, but would watch it after school on YTV because I was 6. Then, level 2 was SatAM, which came on very early in the morning and was darker in tone, on ABC. I remember seeing it less frequently, and enjoying it less because of the oppressive tone and being half asleep. Although I still enjoyed SatAM, it struck me as being for slightly older kids, like 8-12, and I think I grew into it with the aid of the comics which I started collecting at the exact same time. To me, the comics and SatAM were the same universe.

    Then, there were the games (step 3), which I always understood as “pure” Sonic, like an element that other compounds were scaffolded off of. To me, this was the most “mature” version of Sonic, and the least understood. I guess I saw this incarnation as similar to anime that a young adult would be interested in. Robotnik looked downright demonic, in-game. This gave Japanese Sonic a naturally foreign feeling, and because we didn’t really have the internet back then, I knew almost nothing about it, but never really thought too much of the juxtaposition either. I definitely thought of it as apart from the cartoons, though.

    When the internet finally started becoming common place, I would go to crude fan sites and see Japanese images here and there, like Sonic Screensaver, and the Sonic OVA. I remember going to Blockbuster and they had the Sonic OVA in their catalogue, but for some reason didn’t have access to it. There was so much mystery around this foreign and official Sonic for me. I also become aware of the Fleetway comic then, and appreciated the artwork, but again, information was sparse back then, think I just mentally lumped it into the fanart you would see online, like “Team Artail” or whatever that was...

    I also remember seeing Sonic X-treme in the “Wishbook” catalogue, around Christmas one year, but it never materialized anywhere. There was just a lot of mystery before the internet really took off, I didn’t even know Sonic & Knuckles existed until one day I randomly stumbled upon it at Costco. At this point in my life, my social world was very small, but I don’t recall being aware of any rifts with the fans. The games all played the same, and for the most part the only differences which existed was with the 2 different cartoons, which I understood as separate from the game itself, which was the foreign/Mascot variant.

    During the lead up to Sonic Adventure, I remember being blown away by the visuals you would find here and there. In my mind, this was “anime” foreign Sonic. By this point I started to feel like I was maturing along with Sonic, I was 12 at this point. But Sonic Adventure still seemed to resemble the “foreign” Sonic as I thought of him. There were human people in the game, but there were also humans in Sonic Screensaver, and that anime. It felt less like Sonic was “changing” and more like my eyes were being opened to this “foreign”, “pure” Sonic.



    I don’t think it was until Sonic Adventure 2 released, that I really became aware that Adventure Sonic wasn’t the “pure” version I had seen him as, but was actually yet one more incarnation and different than the Genesis Sonic. I remember thinking that SA2 was kind of cheap, or “diluted”. It wasn’t the pure mysterious Sonic that always intrigued me as a child. Sonic Heroes was sort of the end of my devotion to Sonic. It just struck me as superficial and childish. At this point I’m about 17, and I’ve walked through the door of “Sonic Collecting”, as opposed to “ardent fan”. It’s around here that the fan base begins to fracture heavily and the good old days become nothing more than a memory.



    I really don’t even think it’s a matter of me outgrowing Sonic, I think Sega just made poor quality games, and stripped away all the meaningful aspects of the character, to resemble something more like AoStH. I think this was a HUGE error for Sega, proceeding as though it wasn’t worthwhile to give Sonic any depth because no adult or teen would be interested anyway. Maybe that wasn’t their intent, but that’s sure how it felt. I remember falling for Sonic when I first played the game at my babysitters, thinking it was intended for her teenage sons. Sega is really missing the mark by seemingly catering to the 4-8 y/o crowd.
     
  17. JaxTH

    JaxTH

    Pudding Deity Oldbie
    9,276
    185
    43
    Los Angeles
    Jack shit.
    In fact, around the time SA2: Battle was coming out I remember the official Sega website having some kind of "History of Sonic" page and the only mention of the comics was just a little blurb just confirming their existence.
     
  18. David The Lurker

    David The Lurker

    For some mysterious reason... Administrator
    The original Sonic the Hedgehog website was on rat.org. Started off as just an ftp server, but had a WWW front facing directory. You can see an image of it in Josh's video! That was how so many people were introduced to Sonic on the web. Also had the first Sonic mailing list connected to it, though it certainly wouldn't be the last. Rat.org's Sonic site wasn't the first time Sonic was mentioned on the Internet, of course - there's plenty of discourse to be found when the first game was released, and the sequel. But the shows, and the comics, offered a more accessible version of Sonic to the masses. A comic was a $1.50. The shows were free, as long as you knew when they aired. So if you're, say, someone in college who already has an enjoyment of funny animals, and suddenly you get this show which features a band of freedom fighters going up against tyranny, with a mix of sci-fi and fantasy elements, it's going to appeal to you. That was the setting that appealed to Ratman when he made that first Sonic site. Even though the show was cancelled by that point, the comic kept it alive, and was still relatively close to what the show had been doing. When rat.org went down in 1997, it was lamented by a lot of people. Might not seem it now, but the site was the largest resource for Sonic information! It didn't take long after the site's closure to be eclipsed by sites like Sonic HQ, The Sonic Foundation, and Team Artail, but it was important. A hub of the Sonic community.

    SatAM also inspired quite a bit of early fan content - Dan Drazen wasn't the first Sonic fanfic author, but he was a man in his 30's who was extremely well read, and knew how to write because of it. His stories spoke to people, inspired them to write fanfiction themselves in that same setting. And creating an "original character" made sense in that context, too. In the games, Sonic was friends with Tails, maybe Knuckles if you squinted. In the show? There was a whole group of Freedom Fighters! You could be living in the hut next to Sonic, and just be on other missions. So if you also went online to roleplay (and believe me, people did even in 1995 on AOL's proprietary message boards) it was easy to just use that setting as well.

    To have anything focused solely on the games was a rarity at that point. The Green Hill Zone is the first website that I remember which concerned itself with the games, specifically the Japanese game canon. Even if things weren't properly translated at that point in time, it was clear there was something going on in those manuals and strategy guides that was decidedly different than the Kintobor stuff we had been told was the true origin, and definitely way different than anything SatAM and Archie gave us.

    For whatever reason, American Sonic discourse is what dominated the Internet back in the day. I heard a theory about this on Sonic the Comic the Podcast, but I don't remember what episode it was (well over a year ago at this point), something to do with phone rates and whatnot. I don't know, I didn't live in the UK, I had America Online! But yeah, StC was just this strange, unknown thing. People knew about it. There were a handful of pages scanned and online, but other than that, it was an unknown entity. Alessandro's Sonic the Hedgehog Info Page tried to make it less mysterious, but it's not like there were full scans of the comic available on his page, either. One of the reasons I joined the Sonic the Comic Mailing List was because I wanted to know more about "the other side" of Sonic, and read very excitedly as the comic prepared to adapt Sonic Adventure! And then was immediately cancelled.

    I wonder if part of the reason Archie dominanted the Internet fandom landscape at that point is because it felt legitimized by the show. We knew what Princess Sally sounded like. Johnny Lightfoot? Who the heck knew! And even when us Americans sat confused as one tried to explain Tekno the Canary at us, we could bring up Rotor and they would know who we're talking about because the show aired over there.

    Clearly you've never eaten a chili dog ;)
     
    • Like Like x 10
    • Informative Informative x 3
    • List
  19. RyogaMasaki

    RyogaMasaki

    0xffffffff Oldbie
    I was born in 1982, so I'm a bonafide 90's kid.

    The internet was only starting to become public by the mid 90's and while adoption rate was fast, the internet of that time was *nothing* like it is today, or even like it was 10 years ago.

    In other words, there wasn't really an over-arching "fandom" for much of anything that didn't have a convention. The fandom was yourself and whatever friends you had who shared your interests. I was lucky enough to have a close friend who was also interest in Sonic, but it was really just the two of us. And even then, it was just me who read the Archie comics and watched the (non-SatAM) cartoon; he was really only interested in the games while I loved it all.

    When the later 90's rolled around and most of us were online (likely on AOL), there was indeed a Sonic fandom online, and indeed it felt like it was biased towards the American cartoons and comics. Hell, my first website was "TailsTT's Freedom Fighters Homepage" back in like 1996. I also feel like there was more overlap with Sonic comic/cartoon fandom with the furry community than with being distinctly Sonic. Things like the Sonic games were just a part of video game fandom in general. There was little crossover, likely because the games had little in common with the other media.

    (I'm speaking from my own memory, of course.)

    Eventually, there were sites like SSRG and Area 51, but these started to appear towards the very tail end of the 90s and into the very early 2000s. But it definitely felt like, in the early beginning, Sonic the Hegdhog fandom *online* was about the media and less about the games.
     
    • Like Like x 3
    • Informative Informative x 3
    • List
  20. To David the Lurker. There were actually a few Russian sites in English that actually housed full issues of both StC and the American comics as well. I know that a lot of people in the 90s fandom message boards used to actually pass those around in private. It was a more obscure part of the fandom, but I know as an American by the time StC was done and over with stuck on reprints, I stumbled across everything and binged the entire series in a weekend barring a couple of missing issues. I can certainly understand the fragmentation of the fandom since the beginning with just how all of the various parts of different media portrayed things so differently. I mean, the entire "Sonic Fans Can Never Agree on Anything" line made far more sense back then with just how actually different each portrayal was.

    Even I remember Rat.org from forever a go. Then, before SonicHQ there was Zifei's Sonic Page which was sort of the intermediary between the two by HQ's original owner who I think was also inspired by Rat, and also a part of that community originally. They overlapped and I'd have to do some searching if I wanted to dredge that all up. If I remember right it was more on the game sonic news side before HQ covered more of everything. I'll give it to HQ, they had sections on just about every Sonic media branch over time, from every widely known regional series and with scans enough to get an idea what was what and from where. I only think the manga (and maybe the French comics) only had nods because of just how little was known until much more recent times.

    I think a couple of pages may still be on one of those old free hosting sites of Zifei's site though, unless it's disappeared in the last few years. On the flip side, a lot of Sonic's history kind of reflected in other video game properties. I've always been a comics guy, and while reading a lot of mainstream stuff I also read Valiant Comic's Nintendo Entertainment System line. As well as all of the comics in Nintendo Power. It was just how marketing wings of various companies worked, but it's still weird seeing people randomly reference the most obscure things even in modern times. It all certainly had staying power, and with Archie at least it was just hard to stop. I do remember some Japanese fans I knew who saw the comic covers in one of the comic collections and being a little confused though. Certainly used to be more of a wall before the age of wikis.
     
    • Informative Informative x 4
    • Like Like x 1
    • List