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Fleetway Design Conventions


Osmium

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I know there's a topic on here about Archie design conventions, but I don't think there's one about Fleetway, so here's a place where we can discuss characters designs in Sonic The Comic. 

 

In my opinion, Fleetway's designs for characters are pretty mixed. 

 

There are some characters like Tekno the canary, and Shortfuse the Cybernik who look pretty Sonic-like and with a few tweaks could look like official game characters.

 

But most other characters designs are pretty off putting. The background people are extremely un-Sonic like. They all look like humans with animal heads, and they all wear normal clothes. I think its jarring to have a world with a few Sonic looking people and the rest human proportioned animals. 

 

Porker Lewis and Johnny Lightfoot are victims of this design. They started off as basically Picky and Pocky, and became full human proportioned anthros who tower over Sonic and Tails and the other game characters. 

 

So, what do you think about the designs of Fleetway? Do you like them, or do you think they're horrifying? Do you think they're better or worse than Archie? 

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Can we talk about Fleetway design variations for the Sega characters too?

I've always been curious about Amy's classic StC design. In the games, he quills were styled in the same way as Sonics, but for StC they chose to have them standing on the top of her head.

Was that a design choice to make her look less like a female Sonic? Or could it have been the only official art they had to go on at the time was:

4TuVUlh.png

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Can we talk about Fleetway design variations for the Sega characters too?

I've always been curious about Amy's classic StC design. In the games, he quills were styled in the same way as Sonics, but for StC they chose to have them standing on the top of her head.

Was that a design choice to make her look less like a female Sonic? Or could it have been the only official art they had to go on at the time was:

4TuVUlh.png

 

Yes, you can! 

 

I'm actually not sure about Amy,but I think it's probably because of that art.

 

If we're also going to talk about Fleetway's interpretation of game characters, then I think I will put this up, which is sort of an evolution of how Richard Elson drew Sonic.  

 

http://amomentofsonicthecomic.tumblr.com/post/38958959062/the-evolution-of-richard-elsons-sonic

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I think the majority of them look pretty goddamn awful.

 

I never understood why it's apparently so immensely difficult for artists on Western Sonic media to at least stay somewhat loyal to the design conventions for Sonic characters. I don't mean staying totally contrained by the design standards to the point of making every character look excessively samey, I mean at least making the effort to make characters look as if they're consistent to the same art style so they don't look uncanny valleyish like these;

 

STC96-MaxGamble.jpg

 

271px-STC49-Sab.jpg

 

STC102-WindyWallis.jpg

 

These character designs really don't harmonise well with characters that have noodly arms and legs, large eyes, vibrant color schemes and who are short and compact. It's incredibly distracting and looks extremely off.

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I think the majority of them look pretty goddamn awful.

 

I never understood why it's apparently so immensely difficult for artists on Western Sonic media to at least stay somewhat loyal to the design conventions for Sonic characters. I don't mean staying totally contrained by the design standards to the point of making every character look excessively samey, I mean at least making the effort to make characters look as if they're consistent to the same art style so they don't look uncanny valleyish like these;

 

STC96-MaxGamble.jpg

 

271px-STC49-Sab.jpg

 

STC102-WindyWallis.jpg

 

These character designs really don't harmonise well with characters that have noodly arms and legs, large eyes, vibrant color schemes and who are short and compact. It's incredibly distracting and looks extremely off.

 

i was trying to make that point in my initial post, that it's really jarring to see characters like this next to Sonic and friends. 

 

i think a reason why they all look so strange is for one reason : they really didn't give that much of a shit about overall style. 

 

Do you think these designs are worse than Archies? I think these may be even worse. Archie may have had fur-affinity type characters,and weird hair and stuff, but these... don't look like Sonic in any way whatsoever. 

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i'm still just a noob about StC.. :lol:

 

but i've been searching about some of their characters i agree some of them looks really anthro .. more than Sonic sega characters... and doesn't fit with them.. but..i think they kinda got it with some characters...

 

and i think they did it well with Tekno

STC103-Tekno.jpg  she still looked kinda Disney like.. but its cute compared to other StC characters..

 

and i also like their Sally too.. they used Ricky

STC33-SallyAcorn.jpg  hehe though its not as beautiful as the SatAM one.. or archie one at those years..

but its modest ..

 

about SEGA characters..

STC44-Knuckles.jpg the take on Knuckles was awesome!  very chubby and yet cool..

 

the same with the take on Sonic..

they concerved the CD style on his spikes even when the adventure design was already released.. i liked that..

 

about Robotnik..

i think its funny how they stayed with AOSTH design

Robotnik_(STC60).jpg

 

a design that suposed to show the ridiculous http://img1.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20140306160943/sonic/images/b/b1/Robotnik(AoStH)modelsheet2.jpg side of Sonic's nemesis..

 

Robotnik_(STC178).jpg wow..how robust he looks :D

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i'm still just a noob about StC.. :lol:

 

but i've been searching about some of their characters i agree some of them looks really anthro .. more than Sonic sega characters... and doesn't fit with them.. but..i think they kinda got it with some characters...

 

and i think they did it well with Tekno

STC103-Tekno.jpg  she still looked kinda Disney like.. but its cute compared to other StC characters..

 

and i also like their Sally too.. they used Ricky

STC33-SallyAcorn.jpg  hehe though its not as beautiful as the SatAM one.. or archie one at those years..

but its modest ..

 

about SEGA characters..

STC44-Knuckles.jpg the take on Knuckles was awesome!  very chubby and yet cool..

 

the same with the take on Sonic..

they concerved the CD style on his spikes even when the adventure design was already released.. i liked that..

 

about Robotnik..

i think its funny how they stayed with AOSTH design

Robotnik_(STC60).jpg

 

a design that suposed to show the ridiculous http://img1.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20140306160943/sonic/images/b/b1/Robotnik(AoStH)modelsheet2.jpg side of Sonic's nemesis..

 

Robotnik_(STC178).jpg wow..how robust he looks :D

 

You saw most of the really good designs. If you saw Verte's post, then you know that for every good design there are a lot of terrible ones too. 

 

Richard Elson(the artist who drew all of those pictures) had a really chubby style for all the Sonic characters, and I liked it. 

 

Robotnik originally started out with his classic "no eyes" SOA style, and turned himself into an egg and transformed into his AOSTH design (i'm not making that up XD)in issue 21. They had to change him to his AOSTH style because it was really popular in Europe at the time. Despite the goofy design, Robotnik was actually quite sinister in most of his appearances. 

 

Just look at this page! 

 

09.jpg

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Oh wow, I never really thought too much about it as a kid, but looking at it now, a lot of those designs are pretty damn terribad.

 

I always did find it kind of amusing how they actually worked Robotnik's redesign into the actual plot canon. In regards to that and Amy, I remember hearing from Richard Elson that Sega Europe gave them some absolutely ridiculous art mandates back in the day. It's why Sonic's spikes suddenly got really stupid around 1996-1997; Sega were telling them to emulate the (frankly awful) Sonic 3D boxart. And they did. And it was equally awful.

 

sonic-3d-flickies-island-cover.jpg

 

STC136.jpg

 

01.jpg

 

Hell, I also remember him saying that they weren't actually allowed to draw Sonic from behind for a while around this point, since I guess Sega stupidly had no idea how these shitty new Sonic 3D spikes should look with a rear view.

 

Also, I always found it odd how STC interpreted Knuckles' chest thing as a metal accessory. :P

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Speaking as a former StC reader, I'm kind of retrospectively amazed that I never really noticed the wildly differing design standards for the anthro characters.  As a kid, these things kind of just wash over you.  But I'll say that it did give a lot of the stories the darker aesthetic that StC generally went for... and to their credit, I don't think they ever used the very silly "hair on top of fur" design style that Archie favoured for a long time.  Amy's upwards-pointing spikes were a happy accident really, as it made her look much less of a recolour.

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It's probably the same logic as Sonic Underground was under. When you're doing a comic every two weeks, often with crowds and new background characters, you end up just doing whatever comes first to mind to get the job done. It's why Tekno ends up being one of the few really strong, SEGA-esque designs- she was planned to be important from the start, so had more thought put into from the start (plus birds at that time were still very influenced by Flickies).

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In regards to that and Amy, I remember hearing from Richard Elson that Sega Europe gave them some absolutely ridiculous art mandates back in the day. It's why Sonic's spikes suddenly got really stupid around 1996-1997; Sega were telling them to emulate the (frankly awful) Sonic 3D boxart. And they did. And it was equally awful.

 

Yeah, there was a noticible change around issue 108. It actually wasn't so bad at first when it was only his spikes sorta higher up (it reminded me of Sonic CD in a way). I actually thought it was sorta cool.

05.jpg

It started getting pretty ugly when all of his spines started to actually point up. 

04.jpg

 

 

 

Hell, I also remember him saying that they weren't actually allowed to draw Sonic from behind for a while around this point, since I guess Sega stupidly had no idea how these shitty new Sonic 3D spikes should look with a rear view.

Wait, they said that?? That's pretty ridiculous if you ask me. They might have shown his back since they shown his front all the time. 

01.jpg

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They've said often how SEGA restricted them art-wise. It becomes obvious in things like the Sonic and Knuckles story, the moment where the Death Egg takes off again and you have Sonic and Knuckles supposedly looking at it- except they're both drawn in the usual 3/4ths looking at a generic point in front of them.

 

Which makes it curious how they got to do things like change Amy so much. It's also obvious that beyond Sonic's spines, SEGA ended up giving them more freedom around the Saturn era, as seen by Elson stylizing things further and further.

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But I'll say that it did give a lot of the stories the darker aesthetic that StC generally went for... and to their credit, I don't think they ever used the very silly "hair on top of fur" design style that Archie favoured for a long time.  

 

Yeah, I really know what you mean about the darker aesthetic. Issue 75 is a big issue that I think of when it came to darker aesthetic.

 

 04.jpg

 

But seriously, look at that kid. He looks more like a teddy bear than a Sonic character. 

 

Speaking of Fleetway's darker stories, they were probably just dark enough to get their point across and not become overly angsty and melodramatic like Archie did.  

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The darker Fleetway comes from the different tradition everyone was coming from. There's a lot of Kirby influence (the Drakon in particular), although with a more "bloated" feeling thanks to Elson, but there's also a big touch of 2000AD I think.

 

Of course, while that's for years what's been touted as "StC" by the fans to non-fans, people seem to forget all the silly Beano-level nonsense Lew Stringer did that I quite like too.

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They've said often how SEGA restricted them art-wise. It becomes obvious in things like the Sonic and Knuckles story, the moment where the Death Egg takes off again and you have Sonic and Knuckles supposedly looking at it- except they're both drawn in the usual 3/4ths looking at a generic point in front of them.

 

Which makes it curious how they got to do things like change Amy so much. It's also obvious that beyond Sonic's spines, SEGA ended up giving them more freedom around the Saturn era, as seen by Elson stylizing things further and further.

 

I'm actually a bit surprised. A knew About the Sonic 3D spines thing, but I didn't know there were so many restrictions. It seemed like SEGA was a lot more strict over Fleetway than Archie at the time. 

 

And I just looked at Issue 51, and yeah, you're right. If Knuckles wanted to look at the Death Egg, then he shouldn't be looking that way. XD 

03.jpg

 

 

In fact, I've been noticing a lot more recently how many poses are extremely "off" from what they're supposed to be looking or facing at. (If you know what I mean.)

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The darker Fleetway comes from the different tradition everyone was coming from. There's a lot of Kirby influence (the Drakon in particular), although with a more "bloated" feeling thanks to Elson, but there's also a big touch of 2000AD I think.

 

Of course, while that's for years what's been touted as "StC" by the fans to non-fans, people seem to forget all the silly Beano-level nonsense Lew Stringer did that I quite like too.

 

When it came to serious issues though in both comics... 

 

Yeah, there was definite difference between Fleetway and Archie at the time. At Archie, everything started to get all anime like and everyone got all tall and muscular and stuff, while Fleetway kept the Sonic characters all chubby. 

 

It's quite interesting to see how both comics progressed throughout the 90's. 

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The darker Fleetway comes from the different tradition everyone was coming from. There's a lot of Kirby influence (the Drakon in particular), although with a more "bloated" feeling thanks to Elson, but there's also a big touch of 2000AD I think.

 

Of course, while that's for years what's been touted as "StC" by the fans to non-fans, people seem to forget all the silly Beano-level nonsense Lew Stringer did that I quite like too.

 

The first one that spring to mind for me was the story where the whole thing was basically a poem about it raining bananas. :lol:

Because they had to be on-model at all times.

 

That said, SEGA also gave them immense freedom story-wise, so that's the trade-off.

 

>Had to be on-model at all times

 

>Mick McMahon's art for the comic

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>Had to be on-model at all times

 

>Mick McMahon's art for the comic

 

Oh god, the less said about his art the better. Did anyone notice that he used like one expression for Sonic? 

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I actually quite liked the varying styles for the original characters in STC, I thought it gave quite a bit of variety to the world. Wheras the archie originals all feel a bit samey to me, there was a lot of variation in body types and style between the STC cast.

 

I get that a lot of them were fairly humanoid but I think there was enough traditionalc sonic body types for it to never seem like Sonic and co were out of place.

 

STH.Cast.STC.CaptainPlunder.jpg

Characters like Captain Plunder were probably the most notably un-sonic and yeah, I guess the design could be kind of jarring but even as a kid I never felt it was totally out of place.

 

STC114-Leaf.jpg

The leaf was one character that had a pretty traditional Sonic look to him. The face was a little off but the body type and general look was pretty much the same.

 

HobsonChoy.jpg

 

Hobson and Choy were a couple of characters that I think got the best of both worlds, neither have quite the traditional Sonic look but I think they emulate it well enough while delivering a bit of the STC detailed, un-sonic style to be a good cross section. I really wish they'd shown up more.

 

Even if you're not a fan of the overall style, you've got to admit that STC had some pretty cool unique looking designs for their supporting characters, even if they weren't too Sonicy.

Frankly I'd take a thousand characters like ebony, porker lewis and fabian vane over the bland and ugly characters Mick McMahon populated his strips with

STC126-BeansonCoastZone.jpg

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I actually quite liked the varying styles for the original characters in STC, I thought it gave quite a bit of variety to the world. Wheras the archie originals all feel a bit samey to me, there was a lot of variation in body types and style between the STC cast.

 

I get that a lot of them were fairly humanoid but I think there was enough traditionalc sonic body types for it to never seem like Sonic and co were out of place.

 

STH.Cast.STC.CaptainPlunder.jpg

Characters like Captain Plunder were probably the most notably un-sonic and yeah, I guess the design could be kind of jarring but even as a kid I never felt it was totally out of place.

 

STC114-Leaf.jpg

The leaf was one character that had a pretty traditional Sonic look to him. The face was a little off but the body type and general look was pretty much the same.

 

HobsonChoy.jpg

 

Hobson and Choy were a couple of characters that I think got the best of both worlds, neither have quite the traditional Sonic look but I think they emulate it well enough while delivering a bit of the STC detailed, un-sonic style to be a good cross section. I really wish they'd shown up more.

 

Even if you're not a fan of the overall style, you've got to admit that STC had some pretty cool unique looking designs for their supporting characters, even if they weren't too Sonicy.

Frankly I'd take a thousand characters like ebony, porker lewis and fabian vane over the bland and ugly characters Mick McMahon populated his strips with

STC126-BeansonCoastZone.jpg

 

I think it really depended on the artist's mood. Because many of the artists created both Sonic like characters and un-Sonic like characters simultaneously. 

 

And yeah, what even IS that last dude?

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We call it the Generic McMahon Pink Mouse.

 

Carl Flint I feel had both some of the most bizarre and some of the most Sonic-like designs going on.

 

Carl Flint probably had the most "on model" Sonic and Tails at the time, concerning actual SEGA designs. 

 

What is your favourite design of Sonic throughout the comics history ? 

 

Mine is Richard Elson's Sonic 3 design. 

 

06.jpg

 

07.jpg

 

08.jpg

 

i think it was one of his most expressive and loose designs. 

 

But I do also like his Issue 7 design a ton too. 

 

03.jpg

 

One really underrated artist that I liked was Ferran Rodriguez from issue 6 who had probable the most SOJ-like art ever in the comic. 

 

03.jpg

 

05.jpg

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