"Early Sonic canon" is a catch-all term that refers to various similar yet distinct publications and continuities in the Sonic the Hedgehog series.
These publications derive their backstory from the Sonic bible, an internal document produced by Sega of America in 1991, during the production of the original Sonic the Hedgehog game. At the time of writing, Sega of America had little to no exposure to any original Japanese fiction relating to Sonic, and the bible was an attempt to establish the definitive Sonic backstory in non-Japanese regions.
Notable publications that used this backstory include the Sonic the Hedgehog promotional comic (the first Sonic-related comic published anywhere in the world), the guidebook Stay Sonic, and the French comic series Sonic Adventures. The long-running series Sonic the Comic also based its backstory on the early Sonic canon, although during its run it also established its own identity separate from the original, to the extent that many features from early Sonic canon (such as Doctor Ovi Kintobor, the Retro-Orbital Chaos Compressor and the Grey Emerald) are now known much more from their appearances in Sonic the Comic than in any other publication.
Although the early Sonic canon was not used explicitly used as a backstory in any of the American animated Sonic TV series (such as Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog or Sonic the Hedgehog) or the Archie Comics series based on them, they nevertheless used certain elements that had initially been introduced for the Sonic bible. The most obvious element was the fact that these series were all set on Planet Mobius, a name that first appeared in the Sonic bible. Other references include the Warp of Confusion from Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog (which the Sonic bible had used as the name of Sonic 1's Special Stages) and Princess Sally and the Freedom Fighters of the Sonic the Hedgehog TV series (who were loosely modelled on Sonic's animal friends).
No Japanese media ever followed the backstory established nor adopted the early Sonic canon. As storylines were integrated into the games, the Japanese home-grown backstory (set on an unnamed planet rather than Mobius) became more prominent worldwide, and the elements of early Sonic canon were marginalised. The early Sonic canon was finally retconned away with the release of Sonic Adventure 2, which revealed that Doctor Robotnik's grandfather was named Gerald Robotnik (contradicting the early Sonic canon backstory that Robotnik had once been called Doctor Kintobor).
Although each publication gave the backstory its own spin, certain common elements exist in most continuities based on the early Sonic canon. Some of these elements are listed below:
- The Sonic the Hedgehog games are set on a planet called Mobius.
- Sonic was an orphan who was raised by his animal friends, who are named Sally Acorn, Porker Lewis, Johnny Lightfoot, Tux, Flicky, Joe Sushi and Chirps.
- Sonic was originally a brown hedgehog, but became blue after running faster than the speed of sound.
- Dr. Eggman (known consistently in these stories as Doctor Ivo Robotnik) was once a kind scientist named Doctor Ovi Kintobor, who was transformed into Robotnik during an accident involving a rotten egg, the Chaos Emeralds and a machine called the Retro-Orbital Chaos Compressor (ROCC). (Note that the cause of this accident vary across publications: in some, it is caused by typing a bad code into the ROCC; in others by spilling soda on the ROCC.)
- Prior to this transformation, Doctor Kintobor attempted to use the Chaos Emeralds to rid Mobius of all evil. His attempts were unsuccessful because he could not locate the seventh and final Emerald, the Grey Emerald.
Publications using early Sonic canon
The following publications contain explicit references to elements of the early Sonic canon. Other books by the same publishers are assumed to use the same canon unless otherwise stated.
- Sonic the Hedgehog promotional comic
- Stay Sonic, published by Penguin Books
- The Official Sonic the Hedgehog Yearbook (1991), published by Grandreams
- Sonic the Comic, published by Fleetway Editions
- Virgin Books books:
- Sonic the Story, published by Ladybird Books
- Sonic Adventures, published by Sirène
In around 1997, Sega's website featured a backstory about Sonic the Hedgehog.