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So, with the Archie Sonic comic kaput, I’ve decided to take the time to reminice upon a subject that only I could care about- Patrick ‘Spaz’ Spaziante, and the evolution of his Robotnik.
One of the best artists for the comic in the early days, Spaz was known primarily for his covers, which were far, far more exciting than the actual stories inside them, but that’s a tale for another day. What I’m gonna focus on is how the man drew Robotnik, and how that style visibly evolved over the course of his time on Sonic.
Now, Spaziante first started drawing for the comic proper in issue 21, in the story ‘The Three Phases of Eve’.
This would give the comics their first exposure to Spaz and his style, and this included none other than the big round guy himself.
This Robotnik was very competently done and well made, but also kind of… how do I put this? ‘Gelatinous’, with a lot of emphasis put on his teeth and the size of his smile, which admittedly fitted with the somewhat lighter depiction he had around this time, as the book would be going through its ‘Growing Pains’ as it transitioned out of pure comedy. That being said, this Robotnik was still veeeery impressive looking..
Time would pass, and the Mecha Madness Arc would come along, to the delight of many.
It was here that Spaz’s Robotnik would change, if ever so slightly- the face would become slightly more detailed, the mustache less exaggerated, and Robotnik’s face and demeanor would become a teeny bit more menacing. Most notably, his body would become somewhat less streamlined compared to before- whereas the earlier take was veeery much an egg with arms and legs, this one would add a noticale torso connected to that big belly, giving it a depth and a presence that had been lacking before.
This would continue into the Mecha Madness special proper, wherein more detailing would be added to his face, along with his teeth gaining more distinction and visibility whereas they had previously been a solid white mass.
This pattern of added detailing to his face would continue into Issue 43 of Sonic, where the stylization really would begin to come into its own.
It is here that the design really started to solidify, as all the changes over the past stories were re-used and refined to an amazing effect.
Here, Robotnik’s lip becomes most noticable, his eyebrows narrower and more expressive, and his body more detailed than ever- notably, his hands become smaller compared to past depictions.
All of this would eventually lead to Endgame…
This sadly would be the last time Spaz would draw this iteration of Robotnik’s design for a very, very long time, but it was here that all the small changes that had been building up over the course of the book were given a chance to shine… in one of the most kickass sequences in the book’s history.
For a last hurrah it was wonderful, as it was here that Spaz drew the doctor at his most menacing.
So, what’s the lesson in all of this? Nothing, I just noticed the small changes Spaz made when depicting Robotnik over the course of the first 50 issues, and hey, since nobody else was ever gonna point them out? It might as well be me. I mean look at my username, my icon, how could it NOT be me?
So, therein the history lesson ends. After this Spaz would draw Robotnik maybe ONE more time, in a gag comic that didn’t feature in the book proper. Much like my favorite artist for the doc, Steve Butler, his opportunities to draw the doctor were limited… but man, did he really make it work towards the end there.
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“Fuck, Steve, what the hell did they do to you?”
Steve grimaced, sitting down gingerly on the swing and watching through a swollen eye as Tony buzzed around him like an anxious fly, falling to his knees and taking Steve’s face in between his hands, lips pursed and eyes harsh, but fingers so very soft and gentle as they traced the cut along his cheek.
“The fuckin’ usual, what does it look like?” Steve snapped back bitterly, because this was the fourth time this goddamn week- they assholes in his class had taken an unusual interest in him recently, and it was coming out in punches to the face and shoves into lockers.
Tony clenched his jaw and shook his head, looking up at Steve and then gesturing down to his midsection, asking if he could look. At first, Steve shook his head, but then Tony’s stupid eyes started doing the stupid pleading thing, and Steve had yet to learn how to say no to that, so he just nodded gruffly and tried not to hiss in pain when Tony’s fingers brushed across a bruise.
Tony sighed as his eyes flickered over Steve’s black and blue torso, and Steve had a brief moment of embarrassment at the fact Tony was getting up close and personal with his skinny frame, but it was quickly halted as Tony let his hand rest, feather-light against the bruises on his ribs. “Convince me why it would be a bad idea to get my fucking butler to run them all over,” he growled, eyes never leaving the angry marks that littered Steve’s body.
“You have a butler?” Steve asked incredulously.
“Yes, now convince me not to get him to ’accidentally’ clip them while they’re hanging about like fucking idiots on the corner of the fucking street-”
“Tony,” Steve cut in, unable to stop a pleased little grin curling on his lips at the other boy’s anger, “I’m okay. They’ll get bored soon-”
“That’s not good enough!” Tony’s eyes flashed, and Steve knew that face, that was his planning face, which undoubtedly lead to bad ideas all around. “That’s bullshit, Steve, come on, listen, I’ll make you something, I know my way around weapons-”
“You’re not going to design me a fucking gun, Tony,” Steve interrupted again, because that really was too far.
Tony just rolled his eyes. “Not a gun. Just… a self-defense measure that will teach them that you’re off-limits. Violently.”
“…I will allow light violence only.”
“Medium amounts of violence?”
Tony huffed, but nodded sullenly. “Fine. Light violence. But I still think I should get Jarvis to swing by in his car-”
Steve got his hand to Tony’s forehead and pushed him off lightly, laughing as Tony yelped in betrayal.