TMMN Interviews Archie Mega Man Scribe Ian Flynn

Recently, we had the opportunity to interview Ian Flynn, the writer for the Mega Man comic book series, as well as Sonic the Hedgehog and other titles sold under the Archie banner. Knowing that there were some questions which went unanswered the last time we attempted this, we pulled some of those which were still relevant out of cobwebs, rewrote them a little bit, and the next thing we knew, we had an interview! The Mega Man Network: Before the first issue was released, you had alluded in some interviews that you were not as familiar with Mega Man as you were with, say, Sonic, but that you had really boned up on researching the games and materials. How well would you say you have acclimated to writing for the Blue Bomber since then?

Ian Flynn: I'd say I'm well beyond where I was when the project was first offered to me. I've got the characters and the general timeline mapped out in my head with plenty of cheat-sheets and notes to reference from. I'll never be as encyclopedic as I am with Sonic - which I grew up with and followed hardcore - but I definitely know my Mega Man basics now.

We've seen you as the sole writer of Sonic the Hedgehog for a few years now, as well as taking on Mega Man and the upcoming New Crusaders comic, among other projects. More recently, in Sonic Universe, artist Tracy Yardley! took up the task of writing the script. With all of these duties and this recent change, might we see someone else step in to script a Mega Man story arc? Or is it all you for the foreseeable future?

As far as I know, it's me from here until who-knows-when. But things change, new opportunities arise, and you never know what the future will bring. So there may be new writers one day, but I have no idea when that day will be.

As of this interview, the storyline based on Mega Man 2 is just getting ready to start. Prior to this, we've seen you adapt the first Mega Man game, and follow it with a light adaptation of Mega Man Powered Up. With Dr. Wily's Revenge being the next game in series chronology, will you be going right into that following MM2? Or might we see an original tale (i.e. non-adaptation) interspersed between some of the games? And how often might one expect original tales occur, if at all?

The next story arc will be completely original with a bit of world-building and fleshing out some new characters - all to the benefit of Mega Man's adventures, of course. As for the game chronology, while I'm sticking very closely to it, I will be deviating a little bit here and there for the benefit of the overall story. Some of the purists may cry foul, but trust me, I'm approaching this in a "MM1 to MM10" mindset rather than an "arc to arc" mindset.

Some characters in the games have less characterization than others; is there a certain way in which you might approach these, or might it be on a case-by-case basis?

Generally speaking, if there's next to nothing in the extra material, I look at the powers, fighting style, theme music, and stage layout for the characters. I also try to glean the most prominent fan-accepted thoughts so that they can feel some vindication. It really varies from case to case, but I try to pool as much ancillary info as I can to derive the characterization.

Of those who do have more established personalities, are there any which have struck you as perhaps troublesome to include in an all-ages comic book, i.e. Grenade Man's delight at being caught in explosions ("That felt good!" --Grenade Man, Mega Man 8)?

There's nobody I've come across yet that causes too much concern. In the example of Grenade Man, that can be played for laughs and simply deemed "weird." Older readers can take what connotations they want from it, but it'd be no more offensive than some of the stuff they pulled in the classic Looney Tunes cartoons. Anything that really crosses the line can be dialed back or have a work-around found for it (e.g. Oil Man's scarf).

The Sonic comics are well known for taking aspects from the many different branches of the Sonic franchise-- Adventures, SatAM, the video games, etc. Can fans expect to see influences from beyond the games in Mega Man, such as the animated series, Hitoshi Ariga's manga, etc.?

I want Archie's Mega Man to stand on its own, so at most I'll be making nods, Easter eggs and little inside jokes when it comes to stuff like the Ruby-Spears cartoon. The late Dreamwave series is off-limits for legal reasons.

As for Ariga's awesome stuff, I'd prefer to steer clear. He's got his own incredible take on the series, and I think it's more fun for it to be "his" and "our" interpretation of the franchise. (That, and it's a little intimidating being put in comparison of his work.)

One of the Dreamwave comic's claims to fame-- or infamy, depending on who you ask-- was the introduction of a love interest for Mega Man. Seeing as Archie has carried the torch for a similar departure from the games for Sonic (to its own share of controversy, admittedly), how likely is it we might see it happen again under your pen for the Blue Bomber?

Not likely at all. Rock is a little boy at heart, so at most he'll have little crushes. He can still show affection, maybe even pine for someone a little, but romance doesn't fit him or his story.

Regarding the games themselves, how obscure are you willing to go for material? Some which have been brought up include Mega Man Battle & Chase, Soccer, the WonderSwan Rockman & Forte, Rockboard, the DOS games, and of course, Super Adventure Rockman, which longtime series producer Keiji Inafune expressed a certain distaste for in the recent Complete Works art book due to it being "too violent" for what he believed the original series should be.

I'll delve as deeply as Capcom will allow. It's my intention to work in Super Rockman Adventure, Rockman and Forte 2 (the Wonderswan game) and Rockman Strategy to some degree. I've got an idea for Mega Man Soccer (heaven help me), but at the moment Battle & Chase and the DOS games are up for cameos rather than full-on adaptations.

Note that isn't a complete list of the games I'd like to include, nor is it set in stone. Capcom has to approve everything, and seeing as we're just now getting to MM2, there's plenty of time to revise plans.

Once upon a time, "Sonic's Friendly Nemesis" Knuckles managed to get his own limited series, then an ongoing series. In addition, there were minis for Tails and even Princess Sally, with Sonic Universe apparently filling a similar role to some degree now.

But with a cast featuring characters such as Proto Man, Bass, and even Duo, how likely do you think it is that any of them could find themselves with a mini or ongoing series, or even for a second series such as Sonic Universe (a "Mega Man Universe," if you will-- we hear Capcom's not doing anything with that one) to happen? Or is it more likely that Archie would rather move on to adapt another Mega Man series (X, Legends, etc.)?

It all hinges on sales and fan-feedback, really. I know Capcom is very positive and supportive of the comic and what it could be. I think I speak for everything on the comic team when I say we'd love to do more Mega Man projects. If the fans can prove they'd support more, then there's a good chance we'll produce more. Whether those projects are spin-offs in the classic series or of the later series (X, Zero, etc.) is largely up to you guys. So buy more books and demand more books!

Finally, we're sure you've heard the question dozens of times, if not more, and will no doubt continue to hear until it happens: Mega Man & Sonic-- we won't ask if it will happen, but rather, what do you think it would take for this to come to pass? After all, we've had Sonic and his crew mix it up with the gang from Image comics, and that seems way more out of left field-- especially since there is already (old) official art of the two blue heroes shaking hands.

It would take SEGA and Capcom to agree to make it happen. That's it. If they both say "go," you better believe we'll go. If you want Sonic & Mega Man to happen, contact them and show your support for the idea.

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That's all we have for now. However, over at Destructoid, our man Tony Ponce got to conduct his own interview with Flynn about the comic, and it carries a much more conversational tone (we had to submit ours by e-mail) with its own approach to the subject matter, so be sure to check it out!

And we would like to thank Archie Comics for setting this up, and Ian Flynn for taking the time to answer these questions. With any luck, we'll have the chance to do this again sometime soon!