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Building a Boom-iverse: An interview with Sonic Boom writers Alan Denton and Greg Hahn

We sit down for a tell-all chat with two of the minds behind Sonic's most meta cartoon.

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, nutters of all ages. Never let it be said that wishes can’t come true – especially wishes that you practically get on your knees and shamelessly beg for. For months at a time. The more loyal readers among you will be aware that I’ve been spending a decent chunk of my articles over the past year attempting to summon Alan Denton, the marvelously friendly fellow who made up one part of the writing team behind Sonic Boom.

No, not the game, I should clarify in a hackneyed manner (a cliché to which our guests draw attention in the interview), but the show. The wondrously funny, bonkers, off-the-chain, fourth-wall-decimating show. The one where Dr. Eggman gets fed up and sues Sonic for damages, where Tails muses having to navigate traffic court and the pitfalls of a degree in liberal arts, and where Knuckles almost puts an infant in a blender.

Yep, it’s one of those kind of shows.

It’s managed to carve out a sizeable fanbase for itself, making the rounds on the internet every so often when one of its classic gags gets reposted and a whole new group of viewers collectively drop their jaws and go: “how did I miss this when it came out?” The answers to that question, and many others relating to the largely ill-fated Sonic offshoot, are about to be uncovered.

Yes, not only did Mr. Denton graciously accept our long-standing invitation to come and discuss his writing work, but he brought along his partner in crime, time, nickles and dimes, Greg Hahn. This duo have dipped their toes into everything from Transformers to the LEGO universe, and continue to work on both their own and existing IP to this day. For one glorious hour, we got the amazing opportunity to pick their brains, and find out just what was going on within the Sonic Boom-iverse, from inception to (presumed) demise. Fans are in for a real treat here, so without any further delay: take the stage, Alan and Greg!

Part 1: In Which we Meet the Players

MV: Thanks to both of you for agreeing to sit down and chat with us. As you know, we’re a magazine with a bit of a focus on SEGA since our early days, so inevitably a certain blue rodent pops up from time to time. Most of our readers will probably know you as part of the writing team for the Sonic Boom-iverse, but before we get into that, we’d like to spotlight the two of you. Set the stage for us: how did you meet and get into writing for the screen?

Alan: Well, Greg and I are a writing team, but before that we were just regular old-fashioned friends. We grew up together in Marlboro, New Jersey; went to high school, played little league together, all that good stuff. I moved to L.A. roughly three years before Greg did.

Greg: Roughly that, sure. I moved a couple years after Alan. We were both thinking we wanted to be writers in the comedy space, but despite living in the same building, we were actually working on two different projects at the time – two different Curb Your Enthusiasm spec scripts. We realized doing that was silly, because while Alan had an A plot he was working on that he was really digging, I had a B plot that was fire but an A plot that blew. We just looked at each other and went: “how about we just combine these and start working together on stuff?” And that’s how that happened.

Alan Denton and Greg Hahn
Pictured: the very first thing that happened after Alan and Greg teamed up. Probably. Maybe.

Alan: Yeah. So we were working on spec scripts as a pair, and right around that time our friend, Bill Freiberger, was hired to work on Sonic Boom. I had worked with Bill before on MTV’s Warren the Ape, so he let us send him a sample of our strongest stuff. After that, it kind of just happened: we suddenly were a professional writing team, and we got right into Sonic Boom season 1. Our first assignment was to rewrite one of the early episodes – the circus episode, ‘Circus of Plunders’.

Greg: ‘Circus of Plunders’, yeah, was the first script we touched at all. We had to punch it up a bit to test the waters, and we did a good enough job I guess that we could then start pitching episodes ourselves. That snowballed into us being the go-to guys for season 1; ‘Creative Consultant’ was our official title. That meant we took a look at most of the scripts and had a hand in fixing them up a little bit to make sure the voice was consistent throughout the series.

Alan: Yeah. You have to realise, at that point Sonic Boom (the show) had absolutely no staff. It was just Bill and a handful of freelance writers. We were sort of put backwards into the staff on the show, which led into us actually being part of the staff proper on season 2, where we became ‘Story Editors’.

MV: Fascinating; any interesting facts about yourselves you’d want to share, that our readers couldn’t just find out by Googling you?

Alan: That I’m prepared to share? *laugh* Well, here’s one. I actually own a house in the middle of a Missouri farmland, way out in like the middle of America. My wife and I bought it on vacation once because it was super cheap at the time, and now? It’s a money pit. Every so often I’ll get an email from my property manager telling me the roof is all messed up… it was a terrible decision. I don’t recommend.

Snailiens ad
It’s not too hard to see why Snailiens never particularly took off.

Greg: That’s actually a new one on me too. Good advice there, Alan: don’t invest in property, ever. As for something you don’t know about me? I’m a toy collector. I collect vintage toys from the eighties and nineties. That’s my bag. I like to get complete sets, but I also like to get little samples of things. Most recently, I collected all four original Snailiens figures. They’re not terribly hard to come by.

Alan: And you have all the Battle Beasts, right?

Greg: I do have all the Battle Beasts. That was like a ‘must do’. Feel free to delete this part, by the way. (Oh, you don’t get out of it that easy, Greg – Ed)

MV: Wow, thanks guys – really paints a picture of the two of you. Before we delve even further into the Sonic Boom rabbit hole, though, any other projects of yours (not Sonic related) that you’re especially fond of?

Greg: Oh, sure. I’ll throw one out – Transformers: Botbots dropped on Netflix relatively recently, which we worked on. It’s exceptionally funny, like the first comedy version of Transformers, which is exactly the kind of thing Alan and I should be working on. Just a super funny show, and we had a blast working on it.

Transformers Botbots ad
You have now heard of Transformers: Botbots.

MV: That’s so interesting that they’ve never really pursued the comedic angle on the Transformers IP before, given how the ludicrous nature of it lends itself to laughs.

Alan: I know, right? They’re things that look like other things! They’ve never used the ‘in disguise’ part of ‘robots in disguise’ very effectively.

Part 2: Here Comes the Sonic Boom

MV: Totally. Right, time to address the technicolour elephant in the room. Back to Sonic Boom; what was the internal attitude towards the series at the time? Reportedly, it was intended to be a new cornerstone of the Sonic IP, including shows, games, comics… even a proposal for a Sonic Boom-themed mall! It was a big deal, with a lot riding on it. How much did you know about the nature of the project?

Greg: Well, obviously we grew up with the Sonic franchise, playing on the SEGA Genesis; Sonic 1, 2, 3 and Knuckles were our go-to games. Alan may have dabbled in the Mean Bean Machine a bit.

Alan: I don’t like the way you said that…

Greg: *laugh* So we were very knowledgeable about Sonic going into it, but as far as what Boom would be, when we came in it had already been in development for a while. The game was going, the show was figured out a bit before we got there, and we knew this was to be a ‘veer off to the left’ for the franchise. A spinoff, really.

Sonic Boom mall proposal
I bet you thought I was making this up.

Alan: It was positioned to us as SEGA of America’s take on Sonic; intended for the American audience, an offshoot. I remember them referring to it as a ‘three-pronged brand’ – the games, the show, and the merch. They showed us huge charts and stuff.

MV: Presumably those aren’t ordered in order of quality.

Alan: *laugh* Well, the show would have been top. Obviously. But it was this whole, massive Sonic rethink for a Western audience, basically.

MV: So was there a sense within the company that Sonic needed that kind of a jolt? At the time, he was coming off a string of fairly well-received games, following that period in the 2000s where he meandered a bit with ones folks weren’t overly keen on. Lots of fans have asked why they decided to give him that firecracker up the backside at the precise moment he didn’t seem to need it.

Greg: I’m not really sure, to be honest. We weren’t privy to that kind of stuff; we didn’t have a ton of direct contact with SEGA, except for SEGA of America, who we spoke with through Bill and Evan Bailey, the producer. We focused on the show, except for the couple of days we were brought in to punch up the script for Fire and Ice.

MV: That being the sequel to the 3DS game, of course.

Sonic Boom: Fire and Ice
In all sincerity, Fire and Ice was quite good. Check it out.

Greg: Oh, wait, no – we actually also worked on the script for Rise of Lyric.

MV: Really? That’s amazing. I wouldn’t have thought that, because a lot of the jokes in that game were really terrible.

Alan: I know. We probably wrote them. *laugh*

Greg: *laugh* But it was like a three day sprint, where the game was basically done – except not really, because of several other issues – and we were brought in.

Alan: The levels were set, and all the game mechanics were set. We were rewriting the story and dialogue in the cutscenes themselves to try and make the game match the show a little more.

MV: So the stages were in the can, the story was in the can, but they still had you reworking the script? That explains a lot.

Greg: Yep, we were punching up the script – we couldn’t change the scene order or the direction of the story, we just added jokes here and there.

Rise of Lyric cutscene
“Contractual obligations are a bitch, Ames.”

Alan: The recording session was set for that Monday, and it was always going to be that Monday. We were there about a week before that, going through the entire thing in three days, trying to make it match the show’s voice a little better.

MV: There’s always been that pervasive sense of ‘down to the wire’ about Rise of Lyric. Not that that had anything to do with you guys.

Greg: No, and I don’t think it’s fair to say it had anything to do with Big Red Button, either. They weren’t privy to everything going on higher up; the game, for all intents and purposes, should have been really good.

MV: It should have been! They had the Naughty Dog devs, and the first trailer they showed off – set to Skrillex, natch – looked ten times better than what we got. Presumably it was running on a PC or PS4, while the final game was on the Wii U.

Alan: It’s funny, we actually went to Big Red Button’s offices and they showed us the game in progress – and I’m not just blowing smoke here, it looked really cool! It looked awesome. We were like “this is gonna be sweet, a great game.” Then it got down-rezzed, didn’t really get finished, and it was a huge bummer.

Part 3: In Which we Witness the Fall of Lyric

MV: Yeah, such a shame. On the subject of Rise of Lyric, it was intended to be a prequel to the show, but many fans have noted it doesn’t really lead into that world very well. While the game tells an (attempted) epic about gathering ancient crystals to stop an evil warmongering cyborg snake, the cartoon doesn’t feature this villain, Lyric, at all. Likewise, many mechanics from the game don’t appear, and neither do established sidekicks like Cliff the archaeologist. What is the reason for this? How much of a back and forth did you have with Big Red Button during development?

Greg: Not a thing. They were working on the game and us on the show concurrently, and we didn’t even talk to each other until we came in for that three day punch-up. That’s when we first heard about Cliff, and Lyric, and all the other characters. They were being produced separately.

Rise of Lyric original graphics
I’m going to assume this is a bit closer to what Alan and Greg saw that fateful day.

Alan: Yeah. They’d decided way back before they even hired Bill that the show was to be a sitcom, just pure comedy. That was not the decision they made for the game. They didn’t even fit together tonally. My big wish for the game was that they would include an introduction for Sticks the Badger. I wanted them to properly debut her, and they didn’t. I was terrified that when the show premiered, all the fans would point and be like “who the hell is this?”, which thankfully didn’t happen. But it gave the feeling of “oh, she’s just here now.”

MV: Even in the game, when Sticks appears as a one-shot NPC, she talks to Team Sonic like she’s always known them. Did you have a backstory in mind for Sticks when you conceived her?

Alan: We pitched something – an idea that the Bigfoot episode ultimately came out of, where the gang would encounter a creature in the woods that they thought to be a monster but which turned out to be her ancestor. It never got past that stage creatively.

Greg: But we did do that one episode where her family was revealed to be involved with the name of the town. Formerly ‘Unnamed Village’. I loved doing that one.

Sonic Boom Sticks debut
Pictured: Sticks in her first major appearance. No fanfare, she’s just… there. Trust me when I say she comes into her own.

MV: It’s so intriguing that you say there was such little interaction between yourselves and Big Red Button, because some elements from the show, like the Meh Burger building and Perci the Bandicoot, did find their way into Rise of Lyric.

Greg: With regard to Meh Burger: that came into being because, as a sitcom, we needed a location for the characters to just sit and talk. We decided we wanted a fast food joint, so retroactively that tiki building they’d designed for the game became Meh Burger. It was just a collection of tables next to the tiki stall that we’d come to recognize as Meh Burger.

MV: And of course in the game, Tails excavates an ancient blue plane which they make a big deal out of, and then in the first episode of the show it’s unceremoniously blasted out of the sky and replaced with the more traditional Tornado-style plane.

Just in case you thought I was having you on, folks.

Alan: Not the Tornado. We were very careful to always refer to it as ‘Tails’ Plane’; this was a separate bit of merch. *laugh*

Greg: There were two planes? I’d completely forgotten about this, but I believe you. I’ll check the wiki.

Alan: Oh, and the Enerbeam from the game shows up in a couple of episodes. We used it when we could, threw it in there.

Part 4: In Which a Network of Cartoons is Bemoaned

MV: So let’s try and get away from the poor legacy of Rise of Lyric now, and focus on the show. Early on, it found fair ratings success, averaging upwards of 1.5 million viewers an episode. Then, suddenly, it was dumped in 6AM timeslots, advertised very sporadically, before being shunted onto Boomerang. Lots of fans believe the show was screwed by Cartoon Network. What’s your take on this?

Alan: If you look at the history of Cartoon Network, Teen Titans Go excepted, they tend to push their originals – and their acquired shows, they don’t care as much. Even though they’re paying to show them, they’re not as invested in their success. So a lot of those god-awful early Saturday and Sunday timeslots are filled with acquired shows that they’re just dumping to fulfil contractual obligations. That’s the impression I got for why Boom got tossed around like that.

Sonic Boom networking gag
Pictured: actual footage of Sonic being held hostage by the network. Free him, someone.

Greg: God. It started at 7 a.m., then it went to 6 a.m., then it got pushed to 6 p.m. on Boomerang, which was even worse. It bounced all over the place. Cartoon Network didn’t really care enough to promote it. I was disappointed that there wasn’t more promotion; I would have liked to see more promotion on SEGA’s side, because they failed to advertise when the show was on weekly, and they had a hot Twitter account that was blowing up left, right and center with memes. That was just like our show, that leaned really hard into the comedy and meme culture, and I just felt it couldn’t have hurt if they made more of an effort to be like: “hey, this is the episode that’s airing, go watch it.” But they didn’t do that. A lot of people like to blame Cartoon Network, but I didn’t see SEGA trying as hard as I thought they could have. Of course, all these decisions took place way over our heads, out of our realm of expertise.

Alan: Ultimately, Greg and I were just two guys who were hired. We served Bill at his pleasure, helping to bring his vision of the show to life and add our sensibilities to it. We often get asked “oh, what was the logic behind such and such decision from the powers that be,” but we weren’t part of those negotiations. We just received instructions, and tried to hit those benchmarks as best we could.

MV: Of course, paradoxically Cartoon Network signed off on a season 2.

Greg: Yep. Like you said, season 1 did pretty well for itself in the ratings. Despite being on first thing in the morning, the fact that over a million people tuned into a Sonic cartoon? That’s an amazing number.

Alan: Plus, this was a French co-production with Ouido Productions. The channel Gulli in France, which is like their equivalent to Cartoon Network, ran the show and it did really well over there. That was a big reason why it got renewed. The French folks were keen to get more episodes going, so that helped nudge it into the second season.

Greg: Thankfully, it wasn’t totally reliant on Cartoon Network’s money, which gave it the edge it needed.

Part 5: In Which a Classic is Born, and Shadow Cameos (Again)

MV: At the start of season 1, things feel a bit more traditionally ‘Sonic-like’; episode 1 is very action-focused, despite a heavy emphasis on comedy, and there are bigger-budget set pieces. As the show continued, and especially going into season 2, the action sequences kind of just roll up, happen, and then we’re back into wisecracking. Tell us about this gradual evolution in tone, and how hands-off SEGA were with that.

Greg: Sure. I don’t think it was as gradual as you say; Bill didn’t come on from episode 1, he joined after it was already produced. He then took over the first five or six scripts, and you can see that shift into sitcom mode.

Sonic Boom episode 2
You sure can – they have the obligatory couch and everything!

Alan: Episode 2 is the one where Eggman crashes at Sonic’s place for the week, which I feel is pretty much right into the tone the show maintained.

Greg: Yeah, when we started, Bill showed us the first few scripts – when we saw the script for episode 1, ‘The Sidekick’, we thought it was pretty good, but then we saw the one for episode 2, and we said “this is the real pilot.” So we tried to make all the stories match that episode tonally, rather than episode 1.

Alan: It was the case that in every episode there had to be one big action setpiece, and as long as that was in there, we could fill it with as much stupid dumb comedy as we wanted. Those action scenes definitely got more and more perfunctory as the show went on. For example, we’d simply write “we open on a battle,” and the whole rest of the script would be purely just stupid stuff.

Sonic Boom Shadow
Shadow got off pretty easy with the redesign hammer. Only a wee bit of stretching there.

Greg: But don’t forget, in Season 2, we got to do the four-parter ‘Robots from the Sky’ story; on that one, they really upped the budget and animation. The animation quality, shall we say, varies from episode to episode – you can see sometimes there’s more of a budget, or an episode is rushed. It’s all production stuff, I’m not sure exactly what happened, but on some episodes you can tell they put in the extra effort. I’m glad they did that for the four-parter, because that was the most epic arc we ever did.

MV: And the finale to season 2, which sees all the major characters return against Shadow, who tries to end the universe, also had a pretty big budget. Fittingly so!

Alan: Oh, man. Writing for Shadow was a challenge in itself. SEGA did not consider him a comedy character. They told us we could use him, he could be on the show, but he was not to be making any jokes. We were like “uh, sure.” So to work around that, the joke became the very fact that Shadow is completely humorless. So edgy, all the time. It was funny that he was here, having to deal with all these crazy people.

Greg: Shadow was a character that was very protected by SEGA. They were reluctant to let us use him very much, and when we did use him, he came with so many notes and restrictions that it was easier to not use him. That’s why he wasn’t on the show as much as fans would have wanted.

MV: So that’s why he was relegated to being a once-in-a-blue-moon, ‘special episode’ character. Was Metal Sonic the same? He doesn’t even talk, you could have used him more!

Alan: Yeah, Metal Sonic only put in the one appearance.

Sonic Boom Metal Sonic
Pictured: said appearance.

Greg: But we brought him back for the finale. Honestly, when characters that were existing, original-universe Sonic characters were brought in, those episodes were just too hard to write for. There were so many notes, they were such protected characters. We got to have so much more freedom with characters of our own, like Dave the Intern and the Mayor, that it was just easier. Did we want to include Big the Cat? Sure we did. But writing that would have been a huge headache, it would have had to have gone through so many layers of clearance. It would have taken ages to get approved. It wasn’t worth it. Hence why there’s only Shadow, Metal Sonic, and Vector the Crocodile in a handful of episodes.

Alan: Bill’s design was that we should be our own island, literally, away from SEGA; to have to get as few approvals from the company as we could. That way, we could play around in the sandbox of original characters, original locations. He told us not to go into lore or backstories, just to keep it all in one place because then we could mess around all we wanted.

Part 6: In Which Reality Ensues

MV: So it was very much a conscious choice, to keep everything contained on this one island, with all its different biomes and locations? For creative freedom?

Alan: Yes. We were very specifically told: “this isn’t Mobius, or Earth. It’s its own planet that the Boom characters are on.” I don’t know how they got there or any of that lore. Thinking on it, we didn’t need to keep it so local to the island, we had the whole planet. It was just we had limitations on what environments we could build.

Greg: Yeah, there were budgetary reasons too. That’s why there are so many scenes in so few locations. Meh Burger became central because it was cheap to use. That’s also how we ended up re-purposing so many character designs. Kind of like on The Simpsons, where you’ll have a one-note character who shows up for a single funny line, but they then become a character in your toolbox to work with. We gave personalities to a lot of background villagers that way.

Sonic Boom Perci and Staci
My personal fave was when they accidentally used Perci’s model twice in the background, so they spun it as her having a twin sister and actually made her into a character. I’m not kidding.

Alan: Soar the Eagle is a good example. He was introduced as a motivational speaker, and we liked the voice that Travis Willingham did for him. Later, when we needed a character to be the local news anchor, we just went “oh, just use that guy.” So Soar became the news anchor. We did that all the time.

MV: Glad you brought up the voice artists, actually. Was there ever any consideration about using a different cast to the games for the show?

Alan: When we signed on, the game cast was already attached, because the marketing angle was that the game and show would be pushed together. It was envisioned that way from the start.

Part 7: In Which Voices are Acted

MV: While we’re on the subject, any interesting tidbits about your experiences with the voice cast? Mike Pollock, Roger Craig Smith et al are all legends in their own right.

Alan: Huh. Well, Greg and I attended every recording session.

Greg: Which is actually unusual. We were very privileged to be able to do it; Bill would let us in there, and we got to have a say on the performances, be a voice in the back of the director’s head telling them to punch it up a certain way. Tweak a line here and there.

Alan: But I think my favorite anecdote has to do with Roger Craig Smith. Roger is like a machine. In the last Shadow episode, there’s a sequence where Eggman records an interview with Sonic about a bunch of random stuff, and then poorly splices it together and shows it to Shadow. Well, in the script, it was written as “Roger will record the original dialogue, then the editors will cut the clips together poorly.” But when he read it, Roger just looked at us and said “do you want me to just give you the poorly clipped together version now?” And we were like “uh.. okay?” So he proceeded to lay down, in vocals, exactly how it sounds on the show. It sounded exactly like we wanted it. So that saved us a bunch of time.

Sonic Boom voice actors
Most of these folks should need absolutely no introduction for fans. Saves me a job, eh?

Greg: The cast was so talented, and we got to have them all in the same room, save for Mike who phoned in from New York. All of them played off each other. A lot of shows these days don’t do that; they’ll have the actors just send in their performances they recorded at home. But on Sonic Boom, we got to have the whole cast standing next to each other. I think that’s why the chemistry on the characters comes off so well.

Alan: Every record session had the entire cast together, with Mike on Skype, and we’d start at page 1 and just read the whole script through like a play. Like a stage performance. They would stop every few lines so the director could get alternate takes, but otherwise we’d just go straight through. At the end, we’d go back and do all the grunts, vocalizations and other sound effects; and then that was it, onto the next script.

MV: Did either of you guys ever have a voice role in the show? Bill Freiberger himself voiced Comedy Chimp and Lady Walrus.

Alan: Greg did!

Greg: Yep, I was the Bike-Chain Bandit in ‘Planes, Trains and Dude-Mobiles’.

MV: Oh, the violent murderer character?

Sonic Boom Bike Chain Bandit
Pictured: the charming fellow in question. He attempts to throttle Knuckles at one point.

Greg: That’s right! Every time Alan and I write, we read the lines over and over again out loud to make sure it’s clicking and is funny. I’m constantly doing all the different voices, and playing all the characters. So for the Bike-Chain Bandit I was doing a really gravelly rendition of his line: “biding my time.” Alan laughed and told me it was super funny, so he went to Bill and told him he should let me voice the character. Bill graciously allowed it. It was very exciting to do that, wish I could have done more. I’d love to do more in the future!

Alan: There was one day where half the cast was sick with something or other, and I did a few crowd vocalizations. So I’m technically in there a little bit, but really Greg is the voice actor of this duo.

Part 8: In Which Highlights are Highlighted

MV: The whole ‘Dude-itude’ duology that that episode was a part of is one of my favourite bits of material from the show. Do you guys have a favourite episode or gag from Sonic Boom?

Alan: I’ve always been really proud of the dip into live action that happens in ‘Just a Guy’. Sonic is being annoyed by someone and he’s taught to go to his happy place. We go into his imagination where he’s relaxing on a beach, and that annoying guy shows up, so from inside his happy place Sonic goes one deeper into a second happy place. Which is this blank void. It’s an Inception joke. At which point his alarm goes off in the real world, so he dips out of the second happy place, back into the first, then back into reality – and then finally dips out of reality into a live action shot of a man in a very poorly-fitting Sonic costume taking out his garbage. That guy goes “whoops, one too many,” and then we immediately just cut back to the show as if nothing happened. I always loved that gag because of the arguments and approvals that it took to get it made. It was mind-boggling the hoops we had to jump through.

Sonic Boom live action shot
The legendary moment itself. Debate rages eternal as to the identity of the man in the mask.

Greg: Because of the implications! They asked, “does this mean all of the Sonic Boom universe exists in the head of this weird cosplayer?” There was genuine concern that that was what we were doing by making this joke. And yes, it’s true, it’s officially canon.

Alan: I remember for months we kept asking Bill, “is that live action shot still in there?” And he kept saying, “it’s still in the budget, but they haven’t done it yet.” They didn’t film it until after the whole season was wrapped, and it was just this ever-present white whale. I kept muttering to Greg: “they’re never gonna do it. They’re gonna cut it.” And then they actually did it. I was so relieved and surprised.

Greg: Yeah. I don’t know that I have a particular favorite gag, but an episode I was really excited about was ‘Sticks and Amy’s Excellent Staycation’, which occurs concurrently with the Dude-mobile episode. Those were two different pitches; we wanted to do a roadtrip episode, but also wanted to do one which introduced a female villain to the series. We had pitched early in season 2 that the character Charlie’s wife would become a villain all on her own, and it took a while, but eventually we figured we could do an episode where the guys go on a roadtrip and the girls are dealing with a new villain. We got to have them interconnect and overlap with each other, and the fact we got to do something fun and experimental like that was really cool.

Alan: But the fact that that concept took so long to get approved meant that the female villain we wanted to introduce early on in Season 2 didn’t debut until the final ten episodes. That was a bummer. We were like, “hey, we’ll have her for season 3 though!” *laugh*

Part 9: In Which Rumors are Put to Rest

MV: Ah, the much-rumored season 3. Was there ever an assumption that you would get a third season? I got the sense as a viewer as season 2 drew to a close that there was an air of finality; the animation was getting poorer, the marketing had dried up, the show was in a dead timeslot. How early did you know that would be the end?

Greg: We wrote Season 2 far before we ever heard. At the time, I don’t think anybody knew for sure. We kind of assumed it was probably over, that if we got another one, great. That’s why Bill wrote in that cheeky little “see you next season!” at the end of the finale, as a kind of hopeful thing. People got angry about that. *laugh*

Sonic Boom season 2 finale
In all fairness, it would be hard for them to ever top this finale.

Alan: I felt strongly that it was probably the end. Bill seemed ready to move on while we were doing it, and I wasn’t surprised when they sent us the email officially cancelling it. That email came, what, like two years after the fact?

Greg: The longer you don’t hear word about it, the less likely that it’s happening.

Alan: We got the usual ‘we wish you the best in your future endeavors’ email, but the awkward thing was SEGA never officially announced that there wasn’t going to be a season 3, and so we had to sort of give clues to fans while avoiding making the news. So when people would ask me, I would say “look at SEGA’s enthusiasm for the project and make your own assumptions.” We had to talk around it so much.

Greg: People kept asking us, and the definitive answer is, “no, there won’t be a Season 3,” but we weren’t allowed to say that for a really long time.

Sonic Boom Steve Eggman
Any excuse to see the return of Steve Eggman would be fine by me.

MV: At least we can put the cap on it now! Bit of an open-ended question: do you see any kind of future for the Sonic Boom brand? Do you think SEGA might ever return to it or its characters?

Greg: I think the main reason they shy away from it and shun the brand is the fact that, anytime it comes up, there’s the little caveat. “Man, the show was great – but the game was not.” I find it’s impossible to mention Sonic Boom without that. I haven’t read a single article about the brand that didn’t have that little extra jab in there. I just think SEGA wants to avoid that. However, that said: fifteen years from now? Who knows if SEGA is gonna want to cash in on that nostalgia, with people who grew up with this version of Sonic? Anything can happen. Everything gets rebooted.

Alan: If I’m doing a Sonic multiverse project, Boom would be pretty far down the list for inclusion. You’ve got Modern, Classic, and Schwartz Sonic, and while it would be nice to throw Boom in there, I think they’re probably just gonna move on.

Movie Sonic gag
I do wonder what Movie Sonic would think to all the sports tape. Probably something like this.

Greg: Yeah. It would be nice if they could keep Sticks around. Or, I would prefer, Dave the Intern.

Alan: She was in a few of the comics, and the Rio Olympics game. I hope she’s not totally gone going forward.

Greg: But when writing Season 2, Rise of Lyric had already come out. The reception of the game was not great, and reminding people of the game was not something we wanted to do. There might have been conversations about referencing the glitches or Lyric or whatever, but in the end we created our own universe. We didn’t need the game’s concepts at that point, so we made an effort to steer as far from the games as we could.

MV: And I guess Rise of Lyric’s ending cliffhanger will never be addressed, huh?

Alan: Never. Never, never, never will be addressed is the answer.

Part 10: In Which we Look to the Future

MV: Figures. Well, that wraps up all the Sonic Boom related questions we have. What have you guys been up to since then? Anything to look forward to in the future?

Greg: We’ve since worked on Unikitty, the LEGO show for Cartoon Network. Alan was the showrunner on a show called Sunny Day, which I also wrote for. We worked on another great LEGO show called LEGO Monkie Kid, which is just fantastic and is on Amazon. The animation in that is top notch, it’s done by the same studio who did Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The show is so under the radar, but when people see it, they are blown away by how cool it looks.

LEGO Monkie Kid screengrab
Here is a screenshot. Kindly be blown away, so as to uphold tradition.

Alan: I’m also gonna plug Greg’s podcast, which he’s changing the name of soon, so good luck trying to Google it. In terms of our writing projects, Sonic Boom opened a lot of doors for us. We’ve become known as guys who can take existing IP and make it silly, stupid, weird. We got a lot of gigs developing projects, some of which never went forward. It’s nice to have that reputation, but I want people to see we can make our own original stuff too, not just deal with IP that the company has no plans for.

MV: You’re the complete package! To wrap up: would you ever return to the Sonic franchise, if you were offered? Is it a world you’d like to revisit?

Greg: One. Hundred. Percent. I don’t think we’ve explicitly said it yet, but Sonic the Hedgehog was an important part of our childhoods, and it’s a dream to be able to work on a project like that. Sonic, Transformers, LEGO. It’s so exciting. Of course we’d go back to Sonic, then. He’s iconic, and arguably bigger than ever now that the movie franchise has taken off.

MV: Oh, that’s a whole different can of worms. On that note, we’re about done! Thank you so much, gentlemen, for coming on to chat. We’ve heard some amazing stuff – and now I don’t know who to spend my articles summoning for interview next!

Tyson Hesse picture
Seriously though, mate. Door’s always open.

Alan: *laugh* Tyson Hesse? I bet you could summon Tyson. Greg and I saw him at a Sonic fan convention where we were handing out autographs. We sat there all day, slowly handing them out for free; but then Tyson rolls up for his two-hour window. He was there promoting his involvement with the Sonic movie. The entire convention center got in line to see him, everyone bought something, and then he left right on time. That was the coolest thing I’d ever seen. He showed up, took money from everyone, and departed.

Conclusion: In Which We Come to the End

Well, how about it, Tyson? This may end up being the first in a long, long line of Mega Visions special guest star episodes.

We’d like to take the opportunity to thank Messrs. Hahn and Denton one final time for popping on to speak with us. In many ways, the tale of Sonic Boom is a sad one – mismanagement from SEGA and Cartoon Network scuppered its already damaged credibility. And yet, there’s much to celebrate; be it the gifted team of writers and voice artists who brought its eclectic, dry comedy to life, or the very fact it lasted as long as it did, propelled almost purely by vehement fan support.

For now, it seems we’ve seen the last of the brand. But. Big but. To quote Mr. Hahn himself, who knows? Down the line, the elongated, neckerchiefed, bandaged incarnation of everyone’s favorite ‘hog may yet have his day in the sun. Until then? Keep circulating those memes, and let the crew know you think they did a swell job.

Sonic Boom promotional render
There was a time when I got sick of seeing this render everywhere. Now, that it’s all behind us, I’m gonna miss it. Perfect bookend.

Now, how else can I close this article but this way: man, Sonic Boom sure was great. No caveat this time.

What did you think of our interview with Alan Denton and Greg Hahn? Are you a fan of Sonic Boom? Would you like to see more features like this one? Let us know!

Bobby Mills

Motor-mouthed Brit with a decades long - well, two decades, at least - passion for gaming. Writer, filmmaker, avid lover of birthdays. Still remembers the glory days of ONM. May it rest in peace.
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