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Tracy Yardley: Running With Sonic

Tracy Yardley has been drawing the adventure of Sonic the Hedgehog for the past 13 years, and counting. He has drawn some of the best Sonic stories, such as "Genesis" and "30 Years Later". Not only did he draw the main Sonic series for Archie Comics, but the side series "Sonic Universe" as well.

While still at Archie, he also worked on "Cosmo" with his longtime Sonic collaborator, Ian Flynn.

When Sonic moved from Archie to IDW, Tracy came along too. As a Sonic fan myself, it was a huge relief when Ian and Tracy were announced for the relaunch of "Sonic the Hedgehog". He's currently drawing the adventures of the Blue Blur as we speak, in fact he was kind enough to take a break to do this interview. If he has his way he's not going anywhere any time soon.

Comic Lounge: What was your first introduction to comic books?

Tracy Yardley: I didn't really read a lot of comic books when I was young. None really. I enjoyed newspaper comic strips and animated cartoons mostly. I tried to get into X-Men once, but it was so bogged down with backstory, I had no idea what was going on, so I gave up on making sense of it. I did read the first few Sonic comics, but after Scott Shaw left, I didn't enjoy the art as much and didn't keep up with that either (until I started working on the book.)

Comic Lounge: You've been drawing Sonic for about 13 years, how long have you been a fan of the character?

Yardley: My brother got the Genesis with Sonic 1 in 1991 I suppose it must have been. I immediately loved the game and the character. I got Sonic 2 the next year and made it a point to get Sonic 3, Knuckles and even saved up for a Sega CD and Sonic CD just so I could play that too. Also had Spinball which I enjoyed despite it being annoyingly difficult at times and not really a Sonic game. I wouldn't get deeply back into Sonic until after college when my roommate and I teamed up to get the Dreamcast with Adventure 1 and 2. I play Sonic games here and there when I can since then, but life doesn't afford me much time to play games in general.

Comic Lounge: Were you a fan of the series before landing the job?

Yardley: As I mentioned earlier, I loved Scott Shaw's cartooning on the first 3 of the 4 issue miniseries that came before the regular series I would eventually work on. Once he left, I didn't keep up with it though. Once in college, I happened to go into a comic shop and saw issue 70-something on a shelf and was surprised to see the book was still going on. Luckily it kept going for another 90 or so issues so I could get to work on it. When I started with Archie, my editor at the time and now co-president Mike Pellerito sent me a big box with nearly every comic from the series so I went back and read through them all. Some are great and some not so much as might be expected from a book over a 15-20 year span.

Comic Lounge: Would you say landing Sonic was your dream job?

Yardley: Yes and no. I say no because I never specifically dreamed of working on the book specifically. I did actually send in some samples in 2001 to the editor at the time, J.F. Gabire I believe was his name. Of course I never heard anything back at that time and didn't really expect to. I also say yes, because doing the job has been a dream. The work is (mostly) fun and its allowed me to earn a living doing what I'm good at and have trained my entire life to do. That's not something many people get to say.

Comic Lounge: Since moving from Archie to IDW, some characters haven't been brought back. Are there any any characters that you hope get brought back?

Yardley: I'm 99.9% certain he won't be brought back, but I'd like to see Scourge return. Sonic is the most fun to draw because he's almost always doing something cool, and Scourge does all that with more attitude.

Comic Lounge: Who is your favorite 'Sonic' character?

Yardley: Its tough to pick a favorite, but I'd probably say Tails. He was introduced in Sonic 2 and that's nostalgically my favorite Sonic game.

Comic Lounge: Are there any other characters you would like to work on in the future, if given the opportunity?

Yardley: I'll be happy to do just about any work I'm paid to do, but I'd like to work on TMNT, or Back to the Future, both of which IDW currently prints. Darkwing Duck was a favorite cartoon of mine. Just about anything fun and cartoony would be something I'd be willing to try my hand at.

Comic Lounge: Is there anything you can tease about the book?

Yardley: Not really. I don't find out anything until I work on a cover or read the script just before I start drawing.

Comic Lounge: Are there any other projects that you're currently working on?

Yardley: Nothing being published currently exactly. I wrote and penciled 3 issues of Galaxy Man and Cosmic Girl which were originally slated to come out from Action Lab Entertainment, but the plan seems to have moved to self publishing as of now. Archie's Cosmo miniseries that I worked on earlier this year just recently came out in trade paperback so hopefully they'll decide to do more issues in the future, but only time will tell on that score. I do have a number of ideas in various stages of consideration or production on my own or with collaborators that may (or likely may not) ever see the light of day depending on if any publishers should decide to pick them up. If nothing else I do have my fantasy epic (as does everyone) in mind that I hope to do some day, with the help of a kickstarter most likely. But for now, I do as much Sonic work as they'll give me and keep clawing along from month to month as long as I can.

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