Ask Ian #5 - The Return

Forum devoted to Sonic the Hedgehog, Sonic Universe and the entire Sonic line by Archie Comics.

Postby Ian Flynn » Mon Oct 23, 2006 10:28 am

Goldanas wrote:I've noticed you have a firm grasp on the characters within your stories, regardless of whether or not they've been established. So I'd like to know how the characterization process works for you. Do you spend some time on it? Do you review other sources of media, take notes on real events and people? Do you sketch out reactions? Etc., etc.


I am, at heart, a method actor. In my (brief) time on the stage, my approach was to be the character. For me the best path would be to understand the character from within and - through that - I would find how they would react. To me the practice of learning the character from the "outside" - how they talk, move, react to immediate stimuli - will eventually ring false. If something happens you haven't included in your calculations you falter. If you know who and what the character is - if you are that character - then the unforeseen isn't a problem. You aren't reacting to the stimuli, the character is - channeled through you.

That same mindset is what I use when writing the characters. For each bit of dialogue, for all the staging and action, I try to do it as that character. I'm not so much the writer as the medium these beings cross through. This can lead to surprising twists in the plot or dialogue I hadn't expected until the characters brought me there. It also can be incredibly draining. =P But it's fulfilling, and I think it shows in the finished product.

BlueFantasy wrote:Since you had Sonic and Fiona together in Other-M, was it easy for you to pick it up in the Archie comics? Did it make you happy? Did Ken take the idea from you?


I don't know Ken's motivations for the Sonic/Fiona pairing. And if anything, it was more difficult for me since I did not want to rehash old work. So...well, you'll see what I mean. Give me time.

sonicxfactor wrote:I know Mammoth Mogul escaped from the egg grapes but what about Ixis Naugus, did he escape as well or is he still trapped/dead/planning an escape?


General Tekno wrote:My impression was that he'd just stopped protecting the Destructix from the grapes - and I'd guess that Naugus is powerful enough to shield himself as well.


Pretty much. Mogul went to protecting just himself and Naugus (the most powerful of his cronies), but who knows how long until he lets Naugus get Egg Graped too...

sonicxfactor wrote:And what about Mogul when’s he gonna next show up?


Very, very, very soon.

ChaosJam wrote:what r the possible ages for most of the main characters


Everyone is in their mid-to-late teens. I'm not opening that can of worms again.
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Postby Goldanas » Mon Oct 23, 2006 3:28 pm

Good to see you back, Ian. It was getting a little dead in here. :cry:

As always, thanks for the response. Good to see some more actors out there.

I've been looking over some of your unmentionable past works lately and I've found them to be exceptional in their ways. I'd like to know how you got artists to enlist with your scripts and how difficult it was. Where did you go? What was it like working with them? Was it a real trip to see your vision come to life?

This also goes out to any writer (and artist for that matter) of a fan comic. I'd love to hear about the process on any side.

Thanks again, Ian.
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Postby BlueFantasy » Mon Oct 23, 2006 7:53 pm

Well, Goldnas, I can say that as an artist, it's hard to make panel placement. XD Plus, I personally am horrible at backgrounds. =3 But, uh, the comic I work on isn't really a fan-comic. ^.^'

Ian, I am going to take that to indicate that Sonic and Fiona are going to break up. :twisted: Mehehe...
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Postby General Tekno » Mon Oct 23, 2006 11:25 pm

Well, remember what Sleuth said about Fiona...

And Tails' look after he got released by Sleuth... he knows something about her. I bet he's no longer looking up to her.

Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that she had a robot duplicate way back when?

And I can't wait to see Mogul again - I'll bet that ADAM isn't through with him. He seems to want Mogul where he can keep an eye on him - and he clearly intends to release him.

After all, what's the point of keeping him alive?

And my next question is... Any connection between ADAM and Fintevus? That's my current bet - that they're working together for the same objective.
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Postby Faded-Myth » Tue Oct 24, 2006 5:03 am

You wanna know what I think? I think Fiona is Robotnik in disguise. His secret desire was to dress as a woman, and when he died in the big Annihilation impact he thought to his dead self "Now is teh greatest chance of opportunity to both live out my dream and fool everyone at the same time", so he dressed up in Fiona's' body, waited for a bunch if issues, and then sprang his trap. He now dates Sonic in disguise as Fiona, and one day he will reveal his true self to the world, thus revealing Fionik does not love Sonic after all and Robotnik will again be back in the world and Sally will get a job as a waitress serving beverages in hot, skimpy outfits.

Am I right Ian? AM I RIGHT!?
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Postby Ian Flynn » Tue Oct 24, 2006 9:52 am

Goldanas wrote:I've been looking over some of your unmentionable past works lately and I've found them to be exceptional in their ways. I'd like to know how you got artists to enlist with your scripts and how difficult it was. Where did you go? What was it like working with them? Was it a real trip to see your vision come to life?


At the time it was rather difficult to maintain an art team. A lot of the art was done thanks to the herculean efforts of an elite few. Then there were a few others who held to their obligations and got a few issues in without many whip-cracking on my part. Some could only do part for various reasons, some vanished altogether. Some demanded payment in some form (?!?) and only one had to be fired for . . . well, they had to be fired.

I found most of them by searching through the Sonic fan-art archives for anyone whose style I liked. The others (and usually the best of them) came to me.

Unforuntately it seems like I used up the last of the talents during that Sonic "Fan Renaissance." Kureejii Lea has been making a concetrated effort to see the project to its finale (even when I've been willing to give it up). Perhaps a new wave of eager creatives will hit and see the project through to the end.
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Postby Faded-Myth » Tue Oct 24, 2006 10:33 am

If your ever in need of an artist willing to work for free, hit me up =D I'll gladly lend a hand to any projects going around.
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Postby nuckles87 » Tue Oct 24, 2006 10:39 am

This also goes out to any writer (and artist for that matter) of a fan comic. I'd love to hear about the process on any side.


Via the message board or PM?

I've learned lots of important lessons in putting my comic together that I think others could benefit from, hence why I'm asking this question instead of just using PM.
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Postby Goldanas » Tue Oct 24, 2006 5:38 pm

nuckles87 wrote:Via the message board or PM?


Well, if you feel that it's personal information but would still like to share it you can PM me, but I see no reason why others wouldn't also benefit from the information you'd provide. After all this thread does allow for open discussion of topics related to Mr. Flynn and the questions asked of him. So if you're up to it, by all means, post! (Unless the mods should dictate otherwise, in which case my point is moot)

I've noticed your name around the fandom quite frequently, nuckles87. I've seen it whilst reading SonicPKM, over on various boards showcasing scripts, and also in nods of appreciation from various artists and comic creators (such as the recent resurfacing of Sapphire Luna and her comics). I wouldn't mind hearing what you'd have to say.


And also, thank you very much, Ian, for your insight. It's always a pleasure.
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Postby Ian Flynn » Tue Oct 24, 2006 5:54 pm

Goldanas wrote:
nuckles87 wrote:Via the message board or PM?


After all this thread does allow for open discussion of topics related to Mr. Flynn and the questions asked of him. So if you're up to it, by all means, post! (Unless the mods should dictate otherwise, in which case my point is moot)


You all are free to discuss fan-comic stuffs, but it'd be better served in either the stickied fan-thread or in another thread. Not to be miserly, but let's try to keep the discussion in this thread to Q&A.

....random insanity aside.
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Postby Goldanas » Tue Oct 24, 2006 6:05 pm

Okay. Sounds fair. I wouldn't want to derail your thread, Ian (*Drat, so close this time*). I'll go ahead and reiterate my question in the Fandom Creative Corner. The FCC.


You down with FCC?
(Yeah, you know me!)

...

:(
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Postby Pundit » Wed Oct 25, 2006 12:52 am

Hey Ian, I just thought of a question after reading an answer you gave a while ago. You made a forward looking statement about a story you had planned way in the future (something to do with Knuckles and Locke, I believe) that was still subject to editorial approval. Could you give us some insight into the way the editorial process works at Archie?

More specifically, just whose job it is to come up with new stories? Does editorial propose rough directions, themes, or do they give you a free hand? Can you give us an idea of some of the restrictions you work within ie. the CCA/other considerations that might have, in your view, possibly compromised some aspects of some stories? What about your overlords at Sega America; are they benevolent and distant or relentlessly nitpicky? Do other writers/writing staff collaborate on stories? Do you actually have to pitch ideas to your bosses or do they more or less accept the stories as you come up with them? Roughly how far in advance is the plot laid out, and is it always subject to change until the last minute or set in stone?

Then of course, how do you all decide what goes into the backup pages after the main story? Archie seems to have got more creative lately in that regard; any thoughts on that? Right now it seems pretty arbitrary what gets covered, and in what detail - even the length of the backups seems pretty flexible. (I think you can tell i'm itching to @#$% about the backup in #167. Whoops, I said it :twisted: )

I understand that the above is a ridiculously extensive set of questions to go into, but i'd greatly appreciate any insight you can give us into just how the company that gave us this addictive comic works behind the scenes. Thanks!
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Postby Ed Bellis » Wed Oct 25, 2006 7:12 pm

Faded-Myth wrote:The thing that kinda saddens me though is that there doesn't seem, to me, to be the same level of balance as there was back in the day, even in the first 20 issues of Sonic the Hedgehog. No matter how goofy or hilarious a story, the battles between Sonic and the villains seemed more desperate, or at least dynamic. Even in a primarily comical episode, there felt like there was loss on the side of the good when they defeated the bad. Like they had come away a little wiser. The battles felt more lasting.
Comparatively, these days the battles never seem as long, or as fulfilling as they used to. I can count a number of one-issue battles from days past that far outweigh several issue-long wars that have taken place in recent years. There doesn't seem to be the same time to soak in a story. Ipersonally think it's because each individual subplot or character oriented story is only given so few panels to work with before moving on to the next thing.

Maybe it's just because I'm older. Maybe it's because I read at a faster pace than I did was I was 13. Maybe I don't have the time to sit back and let my imagination and naivety add to the story and fill in the gaps.
But despite the wonderful job performed by Ian and Tracy in telling a story, and the phenomenal improvement they've given the comic over Kens' method of story telling (which Ipersonally found utterly unappealing and ludicrously pretentious between issues 50 and 160), the battles just don't have that dynamic, lasting, epic feel to it.
That said, issues 160 and 161 came close. They came so very, very close, and I felt like I was 13 all over again...


Well said. This about sums up my view on the comic nowadays, and it's why I'm so excited for Ian, because he seems able to, at least partially, recapture that young and "free" spirit the comic used to have... before it became, well, a comic. >_> But yeah, FM's remark above is pretty much my experience with the comic's early days, except replace "13" with "6 or so." Same difference. =P

A quick question/speculation: the current issue confused the Bajeezus out of me (can't say I'm sad to see it come and go, sadly, and this isn't just Ian's fault - the future storyline was just a massive can of worms to begin with), but Dimitri's offhand remark about working with family brought up a lingering plot point I've been wondering about. So I'll ask it in a roundabout way: any plans for Spectre? =D
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Postby Ian Flynn » Thu Oct 26, 2006 8:30 am

Pundit hit me with some serious questionage, dudes, so I'm gonna hafta break it on down and tackle it piece-by-piece.

Pundit wrote:Could you give us some insight into the way the editorial process works at Archie?

More specifically, just whose job it is to come up with new stories? Does editorial propose rough directions, themes, or do they give you a free hand?
...
Do you actually have to pitch ideas to your bosses or do they more or less accept the stories as you come up with them?


The process (from my end) usually follows this pattern:
1) I pitch story concept
2) I send in the page-by-page breakdowns
3) I send in the rough draft of the manuscript
4) Revisions as needed
5) Additional revisions with changes in the pages (i.e. Tracy adds/removes a panel to help the flow)

By and large the direction is up to me. Mike has to approve it all, naturally, but it's my decision. That's not to say I get my way 100%. See the Script Bits! for TDS to see that. And there's been an occasional push in a certain direction, but I like that. If left to my own devices, I can wander off on a tangent and a bit of direction keeps me focused.

For example - Birthday Bash and Scourge began with Mike - a birthday-themed story and an introduction to Scourge. The rest of the details were left to me. Then stories like TDS or Leak were all me.

Pundit wrote:Can you give us an idea of some of the restrictions you work within ie. the CCA/other considerations that might have, in your view, possibly compromised some aspects of some stories? What about your overlords at Sega America; are they benevolent and distant or relentlessly nitpicky? Do other writers/writing staff collaborate on stories?


Going into any script I ask myself if I would let my youngest brother read it, or if I would let any of the smaller kids at the school I work at read it. Then I ask myself if the story would be of any interest to my older brother/anyone in his age range. If I can say "yes" to both, then I know I'm pretty much set. That sets me well within the bounds of 99.9% of the restrictions from everybody.

Sega (SoA/SoJ) hasn't been a burden at all. If anything, they're provided unprecedented insight into things. I haven't had to re-write anything major - perhaps a line or two. I feel like I have a great deal of creative freedom.

Pundit wrote:Roughly how far in advance is the plot laid out, and is it always subject to change until the last minute or set in stone?


Very far in advance. I'm not sure if I can say how far - that might be something I'm supposed to keep close to the vest - but it's very far. Some of the back-up stories got shuffled around from their originally intended order, but that's been settled for a while.

Pundit wrote:Then of course, how do you all decide what goes into the backup pages after the main story? Archie seems to have got more creative lately in that regard; any thoughts on that? Right now it seems pretty arbitrary what gets covered, and in what detail - even the length of the backups seems pretty flexible.


That's decided by what's going on in the main plot. The meat-and-potatoes has to be Sonic doing his thing. The back-ups can then be used for setting up other elements and focusing on the lives of the other characters. In some ways it allows us to tell more story than if we had just a whole issue. The back-ups for the rest of the year wrap up some long-standing secondary issues and sets up some plot elements for the future.

In terms of creativity - all I can say is thank you !

The length will see some stability in the future. I can't really get into why it's fluctuated recently.

Finally - watch the language. I'm updating the filter after this post.

Eric Bell wrote:So I'll ask it in a roundabout way: any plans for Spectre? =D


In a roundabout, indirect way....yes.
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Postby Pundit » Thu Oct 26, 2006 12:34 pm

Sorry about the language :/

I appreciate that you bothered to answer each and every one of my questions :wink:

To build on Eric Bell's question, i'd like to ask about the general fate of the Brotherhood. I understand that it makes narrative sense to take/leave them out of the current equation, especially since you're planning to rebuild Angel Island as an entity. But as far as you're willing to tell us, do you plan to abandon the Brotherhood concept, keep them on ice, or will we see them play any sort of role in the future?

Curious minds want to know!
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