• John Michlig

Going Deep With Sonic the Hedgehog

I haven't created a Fully Articulated blog post for quite some time, and, ironically, the last title I had set up for later completion was "Sonic the Hedgehog." Just a title and a big blank space.


By complete coincidence, I was once again driven to write about my involvement with the famous blue rodent, but for an entirely different reason.

A bit of background: In 1992, right after I left a short-lived designer/writer job at an ad agency (pretty much my only traditional office gig to date), I immediately made my availability known to Western Publishing, home of Little Golden Books and a mere 25-minute drive from my base in a Milwaukee suburb. I'd done some work for them while employed at the agency; they were not actual clients, so they were outside of my noncompete agreement.


A lot of what I'd done for Western Publishing was game-related. I'd watch kids play an as-yet unnamed board game and then come up with a name and/or tagline for it. Other times I'd write the instruction sheet. It was interesting work. While at the agency, I traveled down there with an Account Executive who also appeared on the eventual invoice. Now I was offering myself minus the "pimp," which they thought was a pretty good deal.


(Quick side note: My work at Western Publishing proved to be a pivotal tool in meeting my wife, but that's another story...).


One day they asked if I'd like to write what they called a Golden Look-Look Book, starring Sonic the Hedgehog. I pretended to be aware of Sonic and jumped at the chance. I'd be paired with artist Art Mawhinney, whose work I knew. Turns out he lived and worked minutes away from Western Publishing's Racine headquarters, and I eventually found that he was a terrific person with whom to collaborate.


I took the gig, of course. Job one was to borrow a Sega game console and play the hell out of the Sonic games to get a sense of what I was dealing with. Fortunately, I was given a fairly detailed "character bible" so I could better understand what the "Sonic-verse" was all about -- this was before Sonic cartoons and movies appeared (just a year later there would be two cartoons, the syndicated Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog and ABC's Sonic the Hedgehog 1993–1994, produced by DIC Entertainment).


As I recall, the first book went fairly smoothly. My premise was simple: Sonic loses his "super-cool red shoes," and the cocky rodent begins to doubt himself a bit. Can he still be super-fast and super-heroic without his "shoes that can't lose"? Would his friends still stick with him if he couldn't pull off amazing feats of speed?


Last week I was on the GoodReads site, a place where people share what they are reading, and it occurred to me -- years after signing on to the app -- that I could search for reviews of books I'd written.


I'm not humble. Just absent-minded.


It turns out there is a review of my first Sonic the Hedgehog book on the site. And it's pretty... deep!


So, without further ado, Chance Hansen's review of SONIC'S SHOES BLUES:


Firstly I want to say this book actually has Easter eggs! (I'll get to that soon.)

This version of Sonic is based on the comic book series and TV show Sonic the Hedgehog Saturday Morning. (Man that's a weird title for a show.) (I just want to say that it's sad to see that the Freedom Fighters aka everyone but Sonic and Tails will be disappearing due to legal issues. Hence possibly ending a 20 year comic book series!)


The basis to this book is Sonic lost his shoes, (It's a messy bedroom concept.) and is actually pretty good!


It isn't your early readers type of book because it's actually heavier on text than more books I know.


The art is actually really great and believe it or not has a decent amount of detail. The first two pages set the tone of the book describing the take over. I love the hilarious gag of Sonic having trophies for being the fastest. The art is really charming and all the characters really have a diverse personalities for being a picture book. Hilariously thing, Eggman's humor reminded me of Sonic Boom humor. It was a charming sort lit bit in the book.


One thing I noticed only after seeing Eric's review that I noticed a slight pattern in the book and how he treated his friends. (As he put it.) The author slipped three stages of grief into the book.


1) Denial (Searching everywhere in his room but still can't find it.)

2) Anger (He turns against his friends believing someone stole them.)

3) Bargaining (Turns the lights off so the thief can return them anonymously)

4) Depression (Bit of a stretch but he doesn't shoot wisecracks back at Antwan and Princess Sally)

5) Acceptance (Decides friends are more important than footwear.)

Now what I really want to talk about! Easter Eggs I found in the book. (Coolest is at the end.)

1) One page is actually dedicated to the Christmas song. Since Sonic finds a partridge in a pear tree in his room.

2) Sonic actually tosses a blue SEGA shirt over his shoulder, (That he forgot he had.) looking for his shoes.

3) I am almost certain Cluck (Eggman's pet) has a cameo on page 19.

4) Sonic has comic books in his room. Not just any comic book but an X Men rip off Y Men.

5) Along with Y-Men comic book he also has a Sonic comic book.

INTERESTING FACT!

This book is published in 1993, The show released 1993, the comic book released 1993.

6) The coolest thing is that this book has is a Sega Genesis with a Sonic 2 in it's port.


As a whole this book was great and Sega should consider bringing picture/chapter books back.


Lest I get too full of myself for a good review of a book I wrote almost 30 years ago, there is another review of SONIC'S SHOES BLUES on GOODREADS that begins like this:


This book is absolutely terrible.


Not that that should be surprising given that it is a book based on the cartoon based on the video game.


But the sexist banter between sonic and the princess (who knew there was even a princess in Sonic?) is horrific, and I purposely skipped over it when reading it to Daphne.


I have to admit I was a little worried -- did some "pre-woke" version of me toss in a bunch of lunk-headed "boys are best" dialogue that needed to be shielded from poor, impressionable "Daphne"?


Much to my relief, Princess Sally gave as good (or better) than she got during a back-and-forth with Sonic, who does/did indeed harbor a bit of a "boys club" mentality. "I think even a he-man like you will need to finish dressing before heading out on any 'too dangerous-for-a-girl' mission," she says with a snark at one point.


Daphne would have appreciated it - trust me.


{Turns out you can read the whole SONIC'S SHOE'S BLUES book right here)



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