Adapting video games to comics is no small task, just ask Archie's head writer on Sonic and Mega Man, Ian Flynn (or editor Paul Kaminski). Balancing someone else's creation with your own ideas, in order to create a book that fans will appreciate is daunting, to say the least. However, with Sonic in its 13th year, and an overwhelmingly positive response to the first arcs of Mega Man, it seems like Archie is doing something right. Read on to find out what Ian thinks of both series, as well as some of the hurdles that he has had to overcome while working on both books.
MTV GEEK: What kind of research was done in order to develop the back stories for the comics??
Ian Flynn: For the Sonic titles, I grew up reading the books. I was a walking encyclopedia already when I signed on to the book. (it was nice to actually have a use for all that trivia) For Mega Man, I’ve scoured the internet for wikis, LPs (“Let’s Play” run-throughs of games) and any other bit of source material I can find.
GEEK: Have there been any bumps in the road/sticking points for how the stories were told??
Flynn: Of course. Sonic and Mega Man are both licensed properties, and sometimes our ideas don’t jive with the owners’ visions for their franchises. They obviously want to keep their product recognizable, and we have to work within their boundaries. It sounds tough, but really there’s only the occasional hiccup, and the books wind up better for it in the end.
GEEK: In an ideal world, what other games would you like to work with??
Flynn: Grab a chair and a cup of coffee – I’ve got a list. Seriously, though, I’d love it if Skies of Arcadia could get another shot, and of course I’d like to work on any of the Nintendo big names. I’d also love to work with the big Vavle franchises (Half-Life, Team Fortress 2, etc.). There’s so much potential for fun comics out there.
GEEK: How long have you been a fan of each franchise??
Flynn: My first game system was a SEGA Genesis (sorry, Atari, I was too young to remember you), so I’ve been a life-long Sonic fan. Mega Man is something I’ve more appreciated at a distance, because I absolutely suck at those games.
GEEK: What’s it like to work on expanding the world of two franchises that have been around for so long before they were adapted for comics??
Flynn: It some ways it’s easy, and at the same time hard. The Sonic titles had hundreds of issues of continuity to work from, and I joined the book after the games had taken on their more story-driven style, so I was never in want of inspiration. At the same time, it creates a number of rules and precedents I have to keep up with, abide by and honor.
As for Mega Man, it’s nice that we can start from the very beginning and craft the world with all the games already laid out in front of us. At the same time, it’ll be a trick to retell “Dr. Wily attacks with Eight Robots – Again” without it getting stale.
All that aside, it’s an absolute blast to play around with these characters and their worlds!
GEEK: Sonic’s universe has been expanded to such a degree through the comics, does Sega consider all of it canon?
Flynn: I can’t speak for SEGA, but I’m under the impression that the games alone are canon. Some sources I’ve read go further and imply only the console games are canon. I don’t know – that’s not my department. I just manage the comic canon, and that’s a big melting pot of all things Sonic.??
GEEK: Who are you favorite characters to write for in each of the series??
Flynn: The villains always have a special place in my heart because they’re always so much fun to write. They move the plot along, they come up with the crazy schemes, and they can’t handle being beaten by a little blue hedgehog/robot. Beyond that, I could give you a reason why each and every one of the characters can be my “favorite.” When you’re having so much fun, it’s hard to choose.
GEEK: What have been some of the most difficult Sonic characters to write for??
Flynn: Any character with an accent is tough because it becomes a balancing act on how to display their way of speaking. Too much of a phonetic presentation and it becomes almost unreadable. Too little and they sound like everyone else. It’s also tough when I’m not familiar with the slang (e.g. Marine the Raccoon being Australian) or have no grasp on the language (e.g. Antoine D’Coolette being French).
GEEK: From a fan perspective, some of the more recent Sonic games have taken a turn for the worse, how do you think that affects the perception of the character as a whole? Do you think that fans see Archie’s representation of Sonic differently than Sega’s??
Flynn: Yeah, the games have had their rough patches in the past, but people can’t seem to get over that. Sonic Rush Adventure, Sonic Colors and Sonic Generations are all prime examples on how SEGA’s doing it right nowadays. C’mon, people. “The Cycle” is broken.
That said, I get the feeling that people view the comic and games as two wholly different things. Overall, I think people know that if they want “Sonic with a story,” they come to us.
GEEK: Mega Man is held in such high regard by fans, was it intimidating to begin work on something with such a rabid fan base? ?
Flynn: Immensely intimidating. And given that Sonic has taken such liberties with the source material (which is a long story on its own), I knew some would worry about how we treated Mega Man. Some folks also have sour memories of the last Mega Man comic. The word is beginning to spread, though, that we’re sticking much closer to the game material with the Blue Bomber, and I’ve heard almost exclusively praise (and sometimes relieved thanks) for how we’re doing the book.
GEEK: Mega Man’s universe is already expanded to a Guinness World Record winning level, would adapting the Mega Man X or Legends series ever be a possibility??
Flynn: It depends on how well Mega Man sells, and what Capcom is ready to let us do. I can tell you that the Archie crew and I are chomping at the bit to get to MMX. So support your Rock of today to see the X of tomorrow!
GEEK: What other games would you like to see turned in to comics? ?
Flynn: Refer back to the list of games I’d like to adapt to comics (read: pretty much all of them). I’d love to see Mario return to Western comics to complete the “Big Three” with Sonic and Mega Man. I think a “Legend of Zelda” on-going would be brilliant. The list goes on and on…
GEEK:What are your first memories of Sonic and Mega Man?
Flynn: For Sonic, it was when my dad brought home our SEGA Genesis, which came with Sonic the Hedgehog 2. I played Sonic, my then-youngest brother played Tails, and we spent hours chasing Chaos Emeralds and foiling mad scientists. For Mega Man, I was on a class trip and somebody had their Gameboy with Mega Man: Dr. Wily’s Revenge. I could not play it for the life of me, but I still remember it fondly.
Check out the trailer for Archie's Mega Man comic book: