When I was a kid I had one major obsession turned muse... Sonic the Hedgehog.
I was a big Mario fan and I loved my NES, but when my neighbors bought a SEGA Genesis in 1992 I was mesmerised by Sonic the Hedgehog's glorious 16-bit animated sprites, looping backgrounds and scrolling landscapes. That was it for me, there was no turning back.
A few years into the fandom, a friend introduced me to the Archie Comics Sonic the Hedgehog series. I began collecting on a monthly basis when I was 12 years old (issue 25 in 1994 to be exact). At that time the series had just broken away from simple gag story lines to become more dramatic with multi part action arcs and cover illustrations by Patrick "Spaz" Spaziante.
Finding that new issue in my mailbox each month was a big deal. I'd stare in awe at Spaz's dynamic character poses on the cover. I imagined the story inside and how it would relate. Then of course I'd actually read the comic. I loved the stories, but there was so much more to appreciate. I'd study the panels and different art styles. Without reading the credits I could tell if Art Mawhinney, Ken Penders, Scott Shaw or Spaz did the inside art. I studied how each artist drew character expressions and gestures. I analyzed the panel layout and made physical notes of how they'd spell out sound effects like KA-DACK, KER-THUNK and so on.
The Archie Comics Sonic the Hedgehog series is currently up to issue #194. I've been collecting them almost constantly since issue #25 (I missed a few around the Sonic Adventure adaptation in the #80's). I ordered back issues of everything previous to issue #25 that I could get my hands on. I have all of the old 48 page special issues (that I know of), all of the character mini series including both of the NiGHTS into Dreams ones, a few issues of Knuckles' series, more than a few of Sonic X and most of the graphic novels. I've found my name in the print page, had my art and photo published, met Ken Penders, Tracey Yardley and Rich Koslowski and had Spaz help me with my eighth grade homework.
My admiration for the Sonic Comic Team's work led me to drawing for fun, but more importantly, it inspired me to study and learn to someday become a "real" artist. The whole course of my artistic existence I credit to them.
Which is why this is so difficult.
Over the years I have become less attached to the comic. Since issue #51 I haven't really felt the same. The artists have changed and I don't even flip through the new issues. I can't remember the last full story arc I read. My shelf is overflowing and I don't properly bag and board every comic like I once did. I remember issue #75 being bad, but I don't remember why. What happened in #100? Did they celebrate #125, #150 or #175? It makes me sad to say I don't remember. I got the comics... but at the time I didn't care. What I credit my artistic existence to is no longer my inspiration and hasn't been for quite some time, which is why I've decided to stop collecting at issue #200. Can I do it? Can I give up the comic that has given me so much joy, so many memories, so many lessons? I guess we'll find out soon enough