Sonic the Hedgehog is the longest running comic book based off a video game franchise, with the series hitting issue #230 last week. Currently helmed by Ian Flynn (the same writer behind the recently-launched Mega Man series), the ongoing tale has had numerous spin-offs. Knuckles the Echidna headlined his own book for a few years, while Tails, Princess Sally, and even the Sonic X universe had their own stories. The latter was cancelled in past years to be replaced by Sonic Universe, an ongoing series featuring four-issue arcs about specific characters, giving Shadow the Hedgehog, Silver the Hedgehog, and more focus not available in the main book. One of the longest running, and most important to the book’s early days, creators was writer/artist Ken Penders, who shepherded the book for a number of years, and introduced many plot elements that continue to this day. He even drew the box art for the release of the animated series from Shout! Factory.
… and he’s been in litigation with Archie for a while now, having registered copyrights on characters and elements that he created, not SEGA. The comic books have humorously retorted, killing one of his characters off panel in a recent issue, but largely have not been affected. The recent Sonic: Genesis storyline rebooted everything to the world of the first few Sonic games, but the events have ended, returning the world back to normal. Largely, Penders vastly expounded the Archie universe’ backstory for Knuckles, dividing his ancestors into the Brotherhood of Guardians (good guys defending Angel Island) and the Dark Legion (bad guys who prefer technology over nature). Penders, reportedly, even takes issue with Sonic The Hedgehog: The Dark Brotherhood, due to similarities to the latter.
On his forum, Penders explains where he hopes to go with this.
Ever since I registered my copyrights for all my stories, characters and concepts that had played a part in one of the most popular comic series ever published in the modern age, I’ve been planning how to answer numerous reader requests regarding how I eventually intended to continue those stories, resolving many if not all of the plot points that were left dangling due to unforeseen circumstances.
While my current legal situation with three well-known companies is still an ongoing matter, I’ve decided now is the time to finally launch the continuing saga of the Brotherhood of the Guardians and Dark Legion in graphic novel format, starting with the first image of one of the story’s major characters, whom I first introduced to the world in the REUNIFICATION storyline several years ago.
Absolutely, that’s why we’re in litigation. I own the copyrights to my work, I’m defending them, and I’m going forward with projects utilizing the intellectual property that is legally mine. If I didn’t own the copyrights, I wouldn’t have standing in a court of law to prosecute those rights. The Federal Government recognizes the documents I have, therefore I have standing. ACP is not suing me for the copyrights because they have no standing in that regard, which is where a lot of people get confused over this matter.
Let me make this explicitly clear: ACP does not, has never and will never own anything published within the covers and pages of any SONIC or SONIC-related comic except for the actual books themselves. They have no claim to any of the characters, concepts and stories that the fans enjoy. There is no © Archie Comics anywhere on any of those books for precisely that reason.
As for why now, let’s just say we’re at a stage where I’m confident I will prevail moving forward with my work.
When asked if the situation would end up with Archie having to abandon all concepts and characters he worked on, and if he’d come back or allow them to wrap them up, Penders responds with:
I don’t have a problem with that, but ACP would have to pay me for the right to do so, otherwise they would have no choice but to cease using everything I created immediately. That’s what the current litigation is all about. Unless BOTH parties are willing to arrive at a solution, it ain’t gonna happen otherwise.
Effectively, Penders hopes to create his own line of comics that continue the storylines, but would logically have to avoid naming anything that SEGA owns outright (Sonic the Hedgehog, Angel Island, Knuckles the Echidna, items and characters that were created in the video games and he adapted into the books).
Of course, the inherent problem comes in with the promotional image he released. Lara-Su may have been created by Penders, but the “father” referenced in the blurb?
Knuckles the Echidna.
Source: Bleeding Cool