Thursday, November 20th, 2014
Sega of Japan
Canal Side Building
1-39-9, Higashi-Shinagawa, Shinagawa-ku
I am typing this in regards to the changes made to the Sonic the Hedgehog licensed comic book currently being made by Archie comics. As you are aware, due to a still-fairly-recent legal battle involving one of Archie Comics' former writers, one Ken Penders, you renegotiated the agreement between you and Archie Comics for continued use of the license to Sonic The Hedgehog. This involved instilling a series of mandates against them dictating what can and cannot be done in the comic. This has resulted in a reboot that has seen the comic go in a radically different direction from what is was going in before, rewriting the comic's timeline, and removing several characters.
Let me first say that I can understand why this course of action was taken. You trusted Archie comics with the license to what was, at the time, a very lucrative intellectual property for you. As such, you expected Archie Comics to handle things in a professional manner. As a result, when it was revealed that Archie either lost, or didn't get one of their writers to sign, a Work For Hire contract, you were understandably angry that Archie would create a situation in which you could have been sued a one of their former writers, and he would have won. Also, you at Sega already had an established idea of what you wanted of Sonic the Hedgehog, and what you wanted it to be, and for years the comic went against that idea. So, when the legal mess happened, you decided then to bring the comic more in line with what you wanted of it. These are legitimate things for someone in your position to feel, and you should not be faulted for feeling that way.
However, I would like to believe you are also aware of the ramifications these actions have had. Ever since the reboot, several fans of the Archie Sonic Comic have been very upset at the changes. Namely, they do not like that the version of Sonic The Hedgehog, the world in which it exists, and the characters in it that they have grown attached to over the course of the comic's 22+-year run, have been unceremoniously removed from it, with their chances of returning being incredibly low. This anger has persisted for approximately a year now, which I would say is an indication of how much this incarnation of Sonic The Hedgehog has come to mean to them, and how upset they are that this incarnation has been changed to the point that it is essentially no longer their preferred incarnation of him.
As was previously stated, all this came about because Archie either never got Ken Penders to sign, or lost, his Work For Hire contract. However, would evidence that it existed, and that Ken Penders signed it, suffice? I would suggest that you put this into consideration. If security footage of Ken Penders signing a Work For Hire contract were to come up, it could be proof of who really owns the characters he created, and would cause ownership of said characters to thereby revert back to you.
Now let me say that I can understand that this may not sound like a very desirable action for you to take. Between finding yourselves in a position where you were at risk of being sued, and getting the comic more in line with the games, you are more than likely to just let the matter rest as it currently is. However, I would advise against taking this course of action. The anger from several fans about the reboot has persisted for over a year at this point, which I would say is an indication of how much the previous Archie Sonic continuity has come to mean to them. These people are passionate about that incarnation of Sonic, and wish to have it back, as unlikely as that is to happen.
Let me also say that I am aware that there are people who like the Archie Sonic continuity the way it is now. I would be willing to allow favoured characters and elements from the current continuity into the previous one if it would appease them. After all, if they have found something in the previous continuity that they like, it would help to bring it into the current one. However, I am sorry to say that this will not dissuade the fans of the previous continuity from wanting it back. They are firm in what they want of the comic, as much as it may nope happen.
Tsurumi-sama, I highly suggest you take what I have written into consideration. The anger over the reboot will not go away simply because you want it to. The fans of the previous continuity will not give it up simply because you want them to. People aren't that simple. While you are unlikely to listen to these fans, I would advise ignoring them, as that will only result in the anger persisting. And it is likely to as long as things remain the way that they are.
That is all I have to say on this subject. Thank you for taking the time to read this letter. I hope you give what I have said serious consideration.