Everyone loves podcasts. Podcasts are great, and with some countries still imposing lockdown measures into early 2021, the mini podcast renaissance we’re experiencing looks set to hold with so many working from home or otherwise just having more time on their hands – but what is surprising is the relatively small number of Sonic-related offerings out there.
This is where Tom Campbell comes in. Well-known to wrestling fans for his work at Cultaholic, Tom has launched a new podcast series called A History of Sonic the Hedgehog which covers, well… Sonic’s history. It’s all fairly self-explanatory, but there are a few things that set this effort apart. Not only is it extremely well produced, it’s absolutely packed with information while keeping things relatively brief and is peppered with various snippets of adverts and interviews from back in the day to tie everything together, as well as a few new interviews and some roundtable discussions that give the whole thing a nice personal touch.
Episode 1 and 2 go over the history of the main series games with a few pit stops along the way and while the amount of new information here will depend largely on how familiar you yourself already are with the tale (and why not acquaint yourself with our wiki?), the way it’s all presented here is very entertaining. Episode 3 goes into the history of the comics and touches mostly on Fleetway and Archie with a quick swing around to IDW to close it out. This episode is utterly fantastic for anyone with even a passing interest in any of these comics, featuring interviews with Nigel Kitching, Michael Stephenson, Ken Penders and Ian Flynn! What a line-up!
All in all, this is not only a fantastically well-written and well-produced look into the entire Sonic franchise, it’s origins and history and how things got to where they are today, it’s also a love letter to it from someone who is very clearly a passionate, lifelong fan and whose expertise has allowed him to do it the justice it deserves. It goes without saying that I think you should absolutely check it out wherever you get your podcasts from, or go straight to the source!
I reached out to Tom to ask him a few questions about the podcast and his plans with it, and what brought him here in the first place. I was pleasantly surprised by his final answer and you might be too! Hit the jump to read on.
Nova: First off, thanks for speaking with us! It’s kind of weird for me personally, speaking to someone who covers a different subject that I enjoy (being wrestling) about a subject I cover, Sonic. What was it that made you decide to set out and do a Sonic the Hedgehog podcast specifically?
Tom: Ohh, Wrestling Friend! Nice to meet a fellow struggling fan of Sports Entertainment. My full time job is with Cultaholic, the Wrestling Youtube Channel, where I present videos and produce daily Podcasts. My three passions growing up were wrestling, radio and Sonic The Hedgehog. I’ve been blessed to have worked in radio full and part time for many years now, and being able to talk about wrestling as a job is amazing. Sonic The Hedgehog was something I wanted to explore as a hobby. I’ve been a fan since the first video games, been a member of numerous forums and chat rooms, dabbled in the Sonic fan game community and spent countless hours drawing Sonic The Hedgehog comics. Back in October I stumbled across an old edition of Sonic The Comic and wondered what some of the people who worked on it were up to now. So I decided, that night, that I should do an audio production around the history of Sonic, not just the comic, but as a whole. I fired off about twenty emails that night to creators, writers, developers, voice actors and fans of Sonic to see who would want to be involved and I was AMAZED at the names that came back and said they’d be up for a chat. From there, off to the races we went!
N: When listening to your beginnings with the franchise, I couldn’t help but notice similarities in my own introduction to it. The drawing specifically jumped out at me. Bit of a random question perhaps, but do you ever still put pen to paper and doodle a few ‘hogs?
T: I don’t make comic books like I used to… I find myself drawing Sonic when I’m just nonchalantly doodling. Delighted that, if a gun was put to my head and I was told to draw Sonic, I may just get away with it.
Side note: weird that isn’t it? “If someone put a gun to your head and made you do something arbitrary how would you react?” Where did that start? Presumably with, I guess, somebody having a gun put to their head and being told to do something arbitrary…sorry, I’m drifting.
SONIC DRIFT! There we go, we’re back!
N: Was there anything you discovered during the making of this podcast that surprised you, or that you were completely unaware of before? Off the top of my head, possibly the most surprising thing to me was that Fleetway Sonic is kind-of loosely based on The Fonz!
T: The Fonz fact blew my mind. Great to get that from Nigel Kitching, the writer on Sonic The Comic. I learned so much from chatting to Ken Penders. He’s a controversial figure in this community – and I guarantee somebody has clicked on another tab upon reading that and promised to never listen to the Podcast – but he was such an integral part of the Archie Sonic world that it wouldn’t have been right if I didn’t reach out to him. I wanted to get his side of the Archie/Penders lawsuit and I’m glad I did. I hope people will listen and draw their own conclusions.
I learned why Sonic has blue arms in Sonic Boom, something that caused quite a bit of distress with some of the fandom. Away from that, comedian Sooz Kempner makes a strong case for why Sonic The Hedgehog, if he lived in the UK, would vote Liberal Democrat. This just scratches the surface. To use wrestling parlance, I “popped” on a regular basis whilst researching and writing A History Of Sonic The Hedgehog.
N: This being a four parter, the next episode is unfortunately scheduled to be the last but it’s going to go into the cartoons (which I’m really looking forward to by the way). What I was a little curious about was how familiar you are with the Sonic fandom. You briefly covered STC Online in the comics episode which was extremely cool, but did you have any plans to touch upon some of the other stuff the community has done, like fan games, or is that outside the scope of this series?
T: Well funnily enough we’ve extended the series for that reason. The final episode, the fifth episode, is dedicated to the fans of Sonic The Hedgehog. I’ll be speaking to members of the Sonic Community from all walks of life – such as the editor of Sonic The Comic Online, fan game developers, community leaders, Podcasters and some of Sonic’s famous fans – to find out all about their passion for Sonic. It wouldn’t be right to let this series end without a special mention to those who have kept Sonic’s world alive – the fans! There is no fandom on Planet Earth with the energy, the quirks and the passion like the Sonic The Hedgehog fandom. It would be wrong for me not to celebrate them!
Thanks again to Tom for speaking with us – you can find him on Twitter here.