Despite numerous failures and completely unplayable games, Sonic the Hedgehog has persevered—people just can’t get enough of the little blue devil. In ways, it seems he’s more popular than ever. Most recently, he’s catching up to his 90s rival Mario—albeit 25 years later—and finally getting his own movie.
Sonic fans have stuck with the character through thick and thin, through some of the worst games imaginable with the most bizarre stories you could think of. Fans who grew up with the series and were later struck by the weird, off-the-rails storytelling of the later 3D games might assume things started to get strange there, but I assure you—it’s been there since the very beginning, starting with the backstory of the first Sonic the Hedgehog game for the Sega Genesis.
The Sonic Bible
Let me tell you about a little thing known as “The Sonic Bible,” a beautiful, wonderful and bonkers version of Sonic lore developed by Sega of America. The Sonic Bible was an internal document made during Sonic the Hedgehog’s localization that invented a backstory for the world and characters of the game. Sega of America developed the document because Sega’s Japanese headquarters hadn’t provided them with any original lore—a common situation at the time, but possibly a result of the ongoing disputes and rivalry between the two branches.
There were multiple drafts of The Sonic Bible—the above image was part of an early draft in which Sonic was from Nebraska, a notion that was, sadly, later changed—and the final version would go on to form what many know as “Early Sonic Canon,” a collection of common elements and ideas originating from the document that permeated various pieces of western Sonic media.
Sonic has had some weird stories in his nearly 30-year-long career, but folks, let me tell you, nothing is as wonderfully wild as Early Sonic Canon. Not even Sonic kissing a human woman in Sonic ‘06, nor the President’s framed photo of Sonic and Shadow in Shadow the Hedgehog, nor even the crazy world of Archie’s Sonic comic series can compete with The Sonic Bible, so strap in.
The Origin of Sonic
Sonic the Comic—a UK comic published by Fleetway Editions from 1993 to 2002—was perhaps the best adaptation of the origin that The Sonic Bible laid out, expanding upon it and building an eight-year-long comic series out of it, so I’ll be using pages from this series to share the origin story of Sonic and Dr. Robotnik thought up by the folks at Sega of America.
This version of Sonic wasn’t always blue. He was once a “normal” anthropomorphic hedgehog with brown fur and more spiky quills, looking more like a hedgehog than he does anywhere else in the franchise. Sonic’s arch nemesis Dr. Ivo Robotnik was also quite different. He was originally known as Dr. Ovi Kintobor, a kindly scientist who wanted to rid the planet Mobius—a long ways from Nebraska—of all evil.
So how did these two become the Sonic and Robotnik we know today? This is where things get weird.
After stumbling into his lab, Sonic and Dr. Ovi Kintobor—pictured above wearing one of those nametags people wear when they’re all alone in a lab—quickly became friends, because why not? Kintobor told Sonic about his Retro-Orbital Chaos Compressor, a machine he built to rid the world of its evil energy by channeling it into the Chaos Emeralds. But, the six emeralds he had weren’t enough—Kintobor needed the seventh Chaos Emerald—and Sonic was there to help.
Using his natural super speed, Sonic helped to scour the earth for the seventh Chaos Emerald, but to no avail. Thus, Kintobor continued to study Sonic’s speed, presenting him with a pair of frictionless shoes, Sonic’s signature sneakers. Sonic still wasn’t able to find the seventh emerald with his new shoes, but he was able to finally go faster than the speed of sound.
As a result of breaking the sound barrier, Sonic’s spines were fused together into spikes and his fur turned blue, transforming him into the Sonic we know and love today.
In coming up with this ludicrous tale, Sega of America didn’t feel the need to address why Sonic could run fast—the main thing about Sonic that might be worth explaining—and instead went to great lengths to provide a reason for his blue fur, a trait that that didn’t really need a backstory and could have easily been passed off as part of a world of talking animals.
It gets stranger.
The Tragic Fate of Doctor Kintobor
After turning blue, which apparently wasn’t a big deal, Sonic opted to stick around Kintobor’s lab because he thought he was a “pretty okay guy.” One afternoon, Dr. Kintobor decided to fix some lunch, finding nothing in the fridge but a single, months-old rotten egg.
Instead of throwing the egg away like any normal person, Kintobor, a man of science, believed a little bit of salt would fix it right up. On his way to grab some, he tripped over a wire and fell onto the Retro-Orbital Chaos Compressor. The accident bathed Kintobor and the rotten egg in chaos energy, resulting in a massive explosion.
When the smoke cleared, Sonic found that Dr. Ovi Kintobor had been transformed into an egg-shaped, evil version of himself—like if The Fly met Doctor Jekyll and Mister Hyde, except Jeff Goldblum became half egg. Ivo Robotnik—the accident somehow having reversed his nametag—was the opposite of the good doctor in every way.
Now, to be fair, this is actually a great setup—the idea that Robotnik used to be a good-natured scientist and was turned into the very kind of evil he sought to rid Mobius of is a strong and tragic background for the character. But why was the rotten egg a part of it? This was most likely a reference to the character’s original name Eggman, and the character is egg-shaped, but like Sonic’s blue color, did we really need an explanation for his ovoid physique? For the sake of embracing ridiculousness, definitely. For the sake of creating a backstory for a straightforward 2D platformer video game? Not so much.
There’s more. Good God, there’s more.
Expanding The Lore
This canon was also used for a series of titles published by Virgin Books. There were four books in total: Sonic the Hedgehog in Robotnik’s Laboratory, Sonic the Hedgehog in the Fourth Dimension, Sonic the Hedgehog and the Silicon Warriors, and Sonic the Hedgehog in Castle Robotnik.
One of these books, Sonic In the Fourth Dimension further explored the Robotnik/Kintobor origin in the most roundabout way possible, through—what else—time travel. Sonic goes back in time to prevent Dr. Kintobor from becoming Robotnik, changing the future drastically. However, in order to save the future and prevent the Big Bang itself from being altered (???), Sonic has to go back once more and ensure that the accident happened after all.
This expansion was just a taste of how weird things were going to get. Once again, elements of Early Sonic Canon were adapted into Sonic The Comic. In issues 70 and 71, it was revealed that the rotten egg was apparently crucial to Kintobor’s transformation into the evil Robotnik.
In the “Return of the Chaotix” story arc, Sonic and his friends find themselves in an alternate timeline where the Metallix—a group of evil robots including Metal Sonic—had taken over Mobius. In this timeline, Kintobor never turned into Robotnik, and without his evil genius, there was no one who could stop the Metallix.
To fix the future, Sonic had to retrieve the rotten egg from Metal Sonic and put it back in the past where it belonged. So, Sonic puts the egg back and then—just to make sure—he trips Kintobor with the wire, ensuring that the accident happens. This dreadful act of sabotage puts everything back as it should be, righting the timeline so that the story of Early Sonic Canon could continue to exist in the world of Sonic The Comic.
The Final Days of Early Sonic Canon
And continue it did—Sonic the Comic ran for 223 issues and was so popular that fans have continued the story to this day with a series of online issues. Unfortunately, Sonic The Comic Online is also the last piece of Sonic-related media holding on to the lore of The Sonic Bible, an unofficial living piece of history acting as a window into the character and franchise’s strange past.
However, since Sonic The Comic Online is a fan continuation and the original is long gone, Early Sonic Canon no longer officially exists—Japanese Sonic media never integrated this lore into any releases, and as the games started to include more explicit storytelling, Early Sonic Canon was slowly, but surely done away with.
One of the final blows for Early Sonic Canon came with the release of 2001’s Sonic Adventure 2, which introduced Doctor Robotnik’s grandfather, Gerald Robotnik, revealing that Robotnik was the villain’s family name from the beginning, thus purging any lingering elements of The Sonic Bible from official game canon.
However, it should be noted that a few elements of Early Sonic Canon—namely, planet Mobius and Sonic’s friends the Freedom Fighters—would continue for a while longer in Archie’s Sonic The Hedgehog comic series, which ran until 2017. With the series’ end, there remains no official ongoing Sonic media with any trace elements of The Sonic Bible. And thus, it was just last year that marked the official death of Early Sonic Canon.
However, as we all know, the story of The Sonic Bible wouldn’t be the franchise’s final foray into creative storytelling. British writers penning tales of rotten egg mad scientists and sound barrier-breaking hedgehogs in the early 90s couldn’t imagine what the next two decades would bring for the beloved mascot—ancient water gods, human-hedgehog romance, and an unlikely partnership between Sonic and a brand of shoes designed to let the wearer grind on rails, just to name a few. Even as Sega tries to force contemporary Sonic media into a unified world—connecting Sonic Mania with Sonic Forces and placing the new IDW comic series in a universe similar to the games—the franchise will always carry that air of peculiarity that began way back when Sega of America decided that Sonic was born in Nebraska and ate trash.