The Official Sonic the Hedgehog Yearbook was a hardback annual publication published by Grandreams Ltd in the United Kingdom. A softback version was released later, renamed The Official Sonic the Hedgehog Special. It includes the earliest Sonic the Hedgehog series comics released in the UK, being produced before both the UK's Sonic the Comic and America's Archie Comics series.
Although the annual's interior title page lists dates of copyright in 1991 and 1992, it was actually released in 1993. This can be seen from several features from Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (released in November 1992), a full-page photo of the Sonic hot air balloon from the 1993 European Grand Prix (which took place in April 1993), and reviews of some Sega Mega Drive games released in early 1993 (including Jaguar XJ220 and The Flintstones).
The staff working on the annual were uncredited, with the exception of editor Barry Tomlinson. It is known that the comic strips were written by Alan McKenzie (who wrote the Sonic story in Sonic the Comic #1), and that the cover and first story, "Cartoon Concerto" were drawn by Richard Elson (who became Sonic the Comic's longest running contributor). The Shinobi story was drawn by Jon and Jim Haward, who signed the story's first page. Jon Haward also drew all of the Shinobi stories in Sonic the Comic. If the yearbook was released before the publication of Sonic the Comic #1, as its stories suggest, this would mean it came out in late April or May 1993.
The yearbook included a prize giveaway for the Sega Mega-CD.
Sonic the Hedgehog - "Cartoon Concerto"
Meanwhile, Doctor Robotnik watches a cartoon show in which a cat tries to catch a mouse, only to be crushed by his own trap. Robotnik thinks these traps are a good idea, and that one of them ought to work on Sonic.
For his first trap, he paints a fake tunnel entrance onto a flat wall in the Marble Zone then sends his Badniks in front of it as bait. Robotnik believes that Sonic will Spin Attack the Badniks, then crash into the wall, allowing Robotnik to catch him. However, while Sonic does destroy he Badniks, he somehow seems to fly down the tunnel as though it was a real one. When Robotnik tries to follow, he runs head first into the solid wall and breaks his nose.
For his second trap, Robotnik paints some ordinary iron rings gold and sets them floating above the ground. When Sonic collects them, Robotnik will use his new Egg-O-Magnet invention (a giant horseshoe magnet on wheels) to bring Sonic straight back to Robotnik. However, as Sonic runs away with the rings, the Egg-O-Magnet rolls after him, running over Robotnik in the progress.
Robotnik tries again, this time spread glue out on the ground and again using Badniks as bait. He expects Sonic to get stuck in the glue, where a fountain of hot lava will erupt all over him. Sonic does indeed destroy the Badniks, but he is travelled so fast that the glue doesn't have time to stick and he escapes. But when Robotnik fumes at the departing hedgehog, he finds he has wandered onto the glue and got stuck, just in time to be caught in the lava eruption himself! Charred and burnt, Robotnik swears off cartoons forever.
- Sonic the Hedgehog
- Doctor Robotnik
- Cartoon cat and mouse
- Animal friends (two blue rabbits and a brown squirrel)
- The title, "Cartoon Concerto", is a reference to slapstick cartoons such as Looney Tunes, Silly Symphonies and Merrie Melodies. According to Nigel Kitching, writer Alan McKenzie considered the Sonic story (particularly the relationship between Sonic and Robotnik) to be similar to the relationship between Wile E. Coyote and Road Runner.
- Robotnik has a peculiar laugh: "Yok! Yok! Yok!"
- When Robotnik is run over by his own Egg-O-Magnet, he says "I hate that hedgehog!" This was almost a year before the line was used as the catchphrase of Robotnik in Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog.
- Doctor Robotnik uses eight different "Egg-" puns, four of which occur in a single sentence: "When it eggs-pedites the eggs-piry of that poor eggs-cuse for a hedge-pig, I will indeed by eggs-ultant!"
- Robotnik refers to the "Egg-O-Matic", however this is just a misprint for his Egg-O-Magnet machine.
The Sonic Interview
"Famed Earth reporter" Scoop Tomlinson is sent to Planet Mobius to interview Sonic. Scoop is nervous at interviewing a hero, moreso when Sonic insists he is really a SUPERhero, and is occasionally put out when Sonic rushes out to do a ten mile round circuit, ensuring that Robotnik is not lurking nearby. Sonic's words are recorded at normal speed, but because he speaks so fast Scoop later has to slow down the tapes to transcribe what Sonic said.
Sonic claims that he was an orphan, raised and taught by his animal friends. He reveals how he met Doctor Ovi Kintobor, who intended to rid Mobius of evil by means of his Retro-Orbital Chaos Compressor (ROCC) and the Chaos Emeralds. He also mentions that Kintobor set up personal computers across Mobius so that people could send him information about his search for the Grey Emerald. Sonic's skin turned blue the first time he broke the sound barrier on Kintobor's experimental, supersonic treadmill, and Kintobor had to give him some special red sneakers to protect his feet.
One day, while Sonic was looking for a snack, he could only find a rotten egg. He gave it to Kintobor to smell, at which point Kintobor typed a wrong command into the ROCC, which went berserk. The ROCC zapped Kintobor, the egg and the Chaos Emeralds, transforming Kintobor into Doctor Ivo Robotnik (even his name tag had changed). Robotnik began ranting about taking over the world, then tried to capture Sonic when he realised the hedgehog was the only one who knew about his transformation. Sonic was able to escape and warn his friends in the Green Hill Zone what had happened.
Robotnik set out to capture Sonic, laying numerous traps and turning Sonic's friends into robots. Robotnik also hid the Chaos Emeralds in special Warps of Confusion in orbit. Sonic had to find the Grey Emerald to stabilise the others, stop Robotnik, and save his friends - he claims the job is still ongoing, and then speeds away for the last time.
Sonic the Hedgehog - "Speed Demonz"
In the Spring Yard Zone, Sonic bops Badniks, collects Rings and avoids traps, confident that he is so fast that has nothing to fear from Doctor Robotnik. Meanwhile, elsewhere in the Spring Yard Zone, Robotnik is upgrading his Egg-O-Matic with the "Turb-O-Boost", which will allow him to accelerate even faster than Sonic.
When Robotnik locates Sonic, Sonic is initially unimpressed until Robotnik is able to dodge his attacks thanks to the new engine. However, Sonic is still able to outmaneouvre Robotnik because of the Doctor's own poor skills. This leads Robotnik to crank the speed of his machine up to its maximum, "psychotic" setting, and ends up travelling so fast that he careens off the edge of the comic page.
- Most panels on this story are viewed on a flat 2D plane, and the landscape appears lifted directly from the Spring Yard Zone graphics from Sonic 1. On the few occasions where the perspective is different, Sonic is not moving through an actual landscape but rather along a level, narrow platform.
Shinobi - "The Dark Circle"
Ninja master Joe Musashi trails the renegade ninja clan known as the New Zeed, who have killed his master and kidnapped his lover Naoko. In Tokyo, he sees the Japanese symbol for "Void" on a building - he knows this is a Neo Zeed building, as the Void is the code name of the Zeed's leader. Musashi infiltrates the building, not expecting to find Naoko but hoping for some clue as to where she is being hidden. He uses his haregai (ninja radar sense) to search as he moves through the building.
When he reaches the balcony over the foyer, he is surrounded by smoke and struck repeatedly from behind. The attacker, a Neo Zeed ninja, has some ability to blind Musashi's haregai. When the smoke clears, Musashi sees the ninja walking on the ceiling by means of clawed sandals. However, now that the ninja is no longer using his invisibility trick, Musashi is able to defeat him with superior ninjitsu skills.
Musashi leaves the ninja unconscious but alive - killing him would make Musashi as bad as the Neo Zeed. He admits that the Neo Zeed's abilities are formidable, but that no single ability is enough: it is the combination of a man's skills and relentless determination that makes him invincible.
Sonic the Hedgehog - "Double Sonic"
As Sonic relaxes in the Green Hill Zone, he realises he hasn't seen any of his friends lately. As he investigates, he destroys a Motobug and releases the bluebird Flicky, who was trapped inside. Flicky says that Robotnik has the other animals trapped in a metal tank at the end of the Zone, so Sonic goes to save them. On the way, he falls over a crumbling cliff, bounces off a spring and frees another friend from a Buzz Bomber. He finally reaches the end of the Zone and hits the tank with a Spin Attack, but the tank is fake - instead of being a prison, it's a booby-trap, and explodes on contact!
While Sonic is down and dazed from the blast, Robotnik appears, preparing to crush Sonic with his wrecking ball Eggmobile. Sonic is saved at the last moment by a timely intervention from Tails. After Tails helps Sonic up, the two heroes retreat to a cave, while Sonic indulges in a spot of carpentry as part of an undisclosed plan to counter Robotnik.
Sonic runs back out into the open to counter Robotnik, but after a brief clash he spins off and disappears from sight. A perplexed Robotnik searches for his errant foe, eventually discovering him leaning relaxedly against a palm tree and apparently oblivious to Robotnik's presence. Excited at getting the drop on his hated enemy, Robotnik wastes no time in sweeping in and literally crushing Sonic with a swing of the wrecking ball... only to find that 'Sonic' is not crushed to a pulp, but instead shatters like matchwood. The figure was a cardboard decoy, and Sonic uses the distraction as an opportunity to reappear and launch a devastating attack which destroys the wrecking ball. Robotnik flies away.
Sonic runs off to find Tails, who has discovered that their friends have really been hidden inside a padlocked and boarded-up wooden hut. Sonic easily breaks this apart with a tornado generated by his super-speed, and the animals of the Green Hill Zone are free once more.
- Sonic the Hedgehog
- Doctor Robotnik
- Miles "Tails" Prower
- Animal friends:
- Sonic Stars - Promotional photoshoot with celebrities posing with a Sonic character
- Guess Who - Promotional photoshoot with celebrities (such as Michael Jackson) posing with Sega merchandise.
- Sega Reviews - Including Sonic the Hedgehog 2 for the Sega Mega Drive
- Sega News - News features on the Arcade Power Stick, the Sonic-themed hot-air balloon, the introduction of the Sega Mega Drive II, and the release of Street Fighter II: Special Champion Edition.
Connection to Sonic the Comic
The Sonic stories from this Yearbook do not explicitly share continuity with the Sonic stories from Sonic the Comic, in part because they were published by two different companies (Grandreams Ltd and Fleetway Editions Ltd respectively). The comic strips in this Yearbook are all self-contrained one-shots with little to no reference to any backstory, but there are some similarities. For instance, the stories feature the animal friends as supporting characters (although only Flicky is referred to by name, in "Double Sonic"). The Sonic interview also explains the Kintobor origin of Doctor Robotnik from the early Sonic bible and the guidebook Stay Sonic, including references to the ROCC and Grey Emerald, which was also used as the official backstory in Sonic the Comic #8, "The Origin of Sonic".
However, there are also specific differences, particularly in The Sonic Interview, which explains Sonic's backstory:
- In the Interview, Sonic mentions that the accident turning Kintobor into Robotnik was caused by Kintobor typing the wrong command into the ROCC (as in Stay Sonic), while Sonic the Comic revealed that it was caused when Kintobor tripped on a wire and fell onto the machine.
- In the Interview, Robotnik created the Special Stages (referred to as the Warp of Confusion or the Secret Zones) around each Chaos Emerald, which were hidden in orbit around Mobius. In Sonic the Comic, the special stages are all in an alternate dimension known as the Special Zone.
The Shinobi story in this Yearbook, featuring Joe Musashi's quest to rescue his lover Naoko, was continued in Sonic the Comic (beginning with "The Fear Pavilion" from Sonic the Comic #1 to #6). All of the Shinobi stories from Sonic the Comic were also all written by Alan McKenzie and drawn by Jon Haward, as in this Yearbook.