Having successfully scored with the first KNUCKLES mini-series, the Publishers of Archie decided they wanted to try again. For awhile, it looked as if KNUCKLES was going to be an regular monthly series from the get-go, but the publishers were still wary of the marketplace, so they ordered up a three-issue mini-series instead, which would then be followed by another SONIC THE HEDGEHOG Special, after which the Special would then be followed up by another mini-series, and so on.
Upon getting the go-ahead from my editor Justin Gabrie, I began work by developing the villains of the piece first. Now that Enerjak had been dispatched, Knuckles would need some antagonists, and some pretty interesting ones at that if I wanted to keep the readers coming back for more, so the first thing I did was go back to the outline I had prepared shortly after the first Knuckles mini-series for a possible regular series. The outline was a synopsis of how the first twelve issues of Knuckles would play out if Archie decided to put out a regular series.
Most people assume it's an easy process for a publisher to get a book out, but the truth is there's a lot of factors that come into play, and the person writing and drawing the books can literally wait months if not years for a decision to be made by company executives. In this case, you also had to deal with a third party, the video game manufacturer Sega, as they owned the character. Since I had been working on the SONIC series going on three years at this time, not only did I have to come up with something that pleased Archie, it would also have to pass muster with the folks from Sega.
At this point in time, I had begun to solo on my scripts since my partner Mike Kanterovich had bowed out of writing altogether due to personal reasons which I understood and honored. Although Justin was happy with the way I was writing on my own, he was also enjoying the collaborative efforts between Kent Taylor and myself in regards to our SONIC stories, and felt the both of us should write KNUCKLES. As it would turn out, previous commitments of Kent's would surface during the writing of the series, allowing him to do little more than review my first drafts and make small changes here and there, in essence acting more like a de-facto editor than a co-writer.
After reviewing my outline, it was quite apparent that I couldn't proceed with my original game plan, which was to have the first three issues single issue adventures with a sub-plot setting up the arrival of what would become Knuckles' greatest enemy, the Dark Legion. In this case, it was either all or nothing, so I opened up the story with an invasion from another dimension. Knuckles was going to meet the Legion at full force.
The script met with everyone's approval and was put into production. Manny Galan was given the assignment of pencilling the strip, while Andrew Pepoy demonstrated a great compatibility to inking Manny's pencils. (One of the great frustrations in comics is when editors team-up artists whose styles just don't mix. In this case, Justin came up aces.) As for the covers, naturally regular SONIC cover artist Pat Spaziante was going to work his magic for KNUCKLES, but I got in on the act by providing layouts and the inking.
As the book was about to go to press, the orders from the direct market, AKA your local comics shops, had been provided to the publishers by Diamond Distribution. Normally, the publishers of Archie Comics make their decisions based on information and experience through the newstand market, as the comics shops prefer dealing with primarily superhero books as opposed to other genres. In the case, the direct market was indicating a stronger interest in KNUCKLES than the publishers had anticipated, and so while the book was on the printing presses, it was decreed that KNUCKLES would become a regular series.
For the time being, they were still hedging their bets by putting out three issues, then a SONIC special, then three more issues, then a SONIC special and so on. The difference here was that instead of starting over again with a first issue, there was going to be a KNUCKLES #4 and so on.
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For those of you wishing to purchase KNUCKLES #1 if you're unable to find a copy at your favorite store, go to the ORIGINAL ART & MORE STORE for further information.