Over the past week there has been rumors circulating that Archie Comics would be losing the license to Sonic the Hedgehog, effectively cancelling the long running series. The rumors began when fans noticed that the Archie store was deeply discounting back issues and trade paperbacks by 75% and both Sonic the Hedgehog and Sonic Universe were dropped from the subscriptions page. The deep discounts are no sign for alarm, Archie has discounted sales all the time, but the missing subscription pages are a big red flag.
Sonic Stadium forum member doctorbenMD decided to call Archie directly and reported the following:
I just spoke with Lisa at subscriptions at Archie (914-381-5155). I told her I was considering subscribing to Sonic the Hedgehog and Sonic Universe, but that I cannot seem to subscribe to them on their site. She said that right now, “until they have more information,” they are not taking anymore subscriptions. I then asked if this meant the possibility of those titles getting cancelled, and she said yes. I asked what would be the final issue to then hit stores would be, and she said “I believe…290.” (I forgot to ask about Sonic Universe and the final Megadrive issue, “Overdrive,” and forgot to ask about resolving storylines and whatnot). And of course, I mentioned that a lot of fans are showing concern and would like to know what’s going on, to which she said “Archie will be providing more information as it comes.” That was it.
Since then, several other fans have called and received a similar reply.
My take: Archie Comics has screwed up time and time again with the Sonic line, between poorly written contracts with creatives, lawsuits, cancelling successful lines like Sonic Boom and Mega Man due to Archie’s own financial struggles, postponing trade paperbacks due to ongoing lawsuits and financial struggles, and pushing the Sonic comics to the bottom of their list of priorities as they focus on their upcoming Riverdale TV series and their rebooted Archie line. The latest Sonic comics, for example, have banner ads for Riverdale on the covers.
Since last year, SEGA has really turned things around with the Sonic brand. The Sonic social media accounts are incredibly popular thanks to the efforts of Aaron Webber and his team. Licensing the Sonic brand has seen a huge uptick, with multiple branding books for the different branches of the franchise. We’re seeing some really quality merchandise from Cook & Becker and Kid Robot. Sure Archie Sonic comics are firing on all cylinders in terms of story and artwork, but I just think that the brand deserves better when it comes to a publisher.
SEGA likely sees this too, and as the contract for the license is likely up for renewal, SEGA has finally decided to not continue with Archie. Thus, the cancellation that we are seeing play out. Does this mean that Sonic comics are no more? Maybe, or it is more likely that SEGA will go with a publisher that treats licensed comics with much more care. I can easily see Sonic the Hedgehog comics happening with a publisher like Boom! Studios or IDW. Interestingly, Sonic comics writer Ian Flynn also does work for IDW with their Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comics. Should Sonic find a home at IDW, it would be relatively easy to reassemble the team.
As for numbering, it should be noted that IDW is not against continuing the numbering of a long running series. Disney Comics & Stories, which began in 1940, is still published today by IDW. Despite being the series seventh publisher, they still continue the numbering with the series in the 700s. Also worth noting, IDW handles trade paperbacks for several Archie Comics series including classic Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comics, which existed as an Archie Adventure Series alongside Sonic in the 1990s.
While this is sad news, if true, it could lead to great things in the long run should SEGA choose another comics publisher with more stable contracts, higher quality trade paperbacks and the option for some really wild crossovers.Ad: