Right now, Archie Comics’ most successful 32-page comic book is Sonic the Hedgehog. In print for over 22 years, it’s officially the longest-running and most successful comic based on a licensed outside property, and it’s one of the few comic books you can still find sold in supermarkets. Of course the company isn’t called “Sonic Comics,” which is likely the motive behind the dramatic reboots of late to make their flagship characters appeal to a wider, older audience. For the first time in his career, Archie is being forced to play catch-up.
The company has found a new self-sustaining niche in video games, and has since expanded the Sonic comic to several titles and introduced a Mega Man comic as well. If you’ve ever wondered why they don’t print a Mario comic, the truth is they want to, but can’t.
Archie once put together a prototype for a Super Mario comic book. Written by Ian Flynn (the current Sonic writer) and drawn by Tracy Yardley (a frequent Sonic artist), the issue was shown to Nintendo as a pitch in hopes of obtaining the license to produce new Mario comics. It’s not the early 90’s anymore and Nintendo keeps its IPs under tight control, only allowing licensing in other media under the strictest of circumstances. Archie got a big fat “NO” and had to abandon their plans.
But thanks to the Internet, some art from the issue that would have been has publicly surfaced. The above page was confirmed by Flynn as being from that rejected comic.