Sonic HQ's exclusive interview with Team Artail webmaster, Mike "Artie" Reyes is here! The following message was sent to him to precede the interview. This interview is by WB. Now, read on!
Greetings! Member of one of the "Big Four" of Sonic websites, SHQ would like you to meet Mike Reyes! Better known amongnst Sonic fans as Artie! Owner of Team Artail - we sit down with him and have a little chat and everything and anything.
Lets get started - shall we? :O)
SHQ: First can you give us some background on yourself? Like who you are and just what it is you do for those that don't know.
TA: Well, I'm 19, I work as a projectionist at a movie theater, I'm a really big anime fan, and... I think that's about it! And of course I'm a Sonic fan too :)
SHQ: How did you become a Sonic fan?
TA: Well, my first exposure to SOnic was in stores when Sonic 1 for Genesis was on display. I remember just wanting to go to the store so I could play the demo there :) I was really happy one year when I got a Genesis & Sonic 1 for Christmas, but I didn't really get INTO Sonic until I saw AoStH on TV on day after school. I began taping it every day and I've still got most of the episodes on tape, but I hardly ever watch them ^_^; I also got SatAM as it aired on ABC way back then.
SHQ: In becoming a fan of Sonic, has there been a particular video game in the series that has influenced you in any way and why?
TA: Well, Sonic 1 (Genesis) was what started it all for me, but I'd have to say my favorite game in the series was Sonic CD (Sega CD). I liked the idea of every act in every zone having a past, present, and 2 possible futures. That just made the game so much bigger! And I LOVE the Japanese soundtrack to the game! The U.S. music was good too though.
SHQ: Everyone knows of your prevalence to SatAM more than anything else. Why is that? What puts it above the others in your opinion? What about the games?
TA: Well, the reason I like SatAM so much is because of the level of character development it went into. It wasn't just another slapstick cartoon for cheap laughs. There was a STORY here, and I'd have to say that SatAM is my favorite American made cartoon EVER! :) And I personally like the way it compares so well to anime ;) 1) The level of character development it went into, 2) the total of 26 episodes (Quite a few anime series have only 26 episodes) and the kicker: 3) It has aired edited on U.S. TV! (The USA Network) I don't feel the other Sonic cartoons ever reached the level of the storyline in SatAM. I did watch 4 or 5 episodes of Sonic Underground, but I just couldn't bear to watch any more after that! I'm not really into the story of the games either, I neither like or dislike it. And I won't even start on Archie!
SHQ: Give us some history of Team Artail? Why was it started? What keeps you on the page doing it - basically, What keeps you driving in doing your webpage daily - in your eyes what makes it special?
TA: Well, The site was originally started over 3 years ago with only a handful of pictures by furry artist Matt Burt (Who is still on the site, but his page hasn't been updated in a LONG time). From there I don't even remember how it's evolved.. but you can see what it is now! I stay with the site because sometimes I just like the feeling of getting a big update done, and it'll be a great pleasure to see if I can get my daily counter to reach 1,000 again :) And I do daily updates off and on. Sometimes I'll do daily updates for a while, but then I either get too busy with other things, or lack motivation to continue doing it daily ^_^; When I first put my site together I tried to make it what I personally would have liked to see in a Sonic site (There's so much more I'd like to do with it now that I lack the time for though). If you'd like to see the history of the site through 1997 & 1998, I still have complete update logs at: http://www.teamartail.com/1997.html and http://www.teamartail.com/1998.html. But note that a lot of information on those pages may be out of date now! Some of the stuff that was added to the site then is no longer there for certain reasons.
SHQ: Your page was originally all Sonic. What prompted you to add Pokemon to the site? Have you ever gotten flak from visitors about it?
TA: Well, I was big into Pokemon when I Made that decision, but as you can see now, I've been really neglecting the Pokemon area of my site ^_^; The only thing I really like of Pokemon now is the anime, and even that I haven't been following lately. As for visitors' opinions of Pokemon being added to the site, some liked the idea, others didn't.
SHQ: Your page is respected as being one of the best Sonic fan-specific pages on the net. In your own words - what do you think keeps people visiting it?
TA: Well, I can tell yuo that daily updates help a lot :) But other than that, I think the most popular thing on my site, currently, is the massive fan art archive. The Freedom Fighter Profiles section is also very popular, but I can't take any more character submissions right now because it's more of a chore to update than anything else on the site! I also couldn't take the people who were getting mad at me for not posting their characters right away, and I just decided I didn't want to deal with it anymore. I decided to leave the current characters up though, because a lot of people want their characters to stay there. Many of them are very out of date though.
SHQ: What prompted you to stop placing profiles of fan created characters on Team Artail?
TA: Oops, I just answered that question above ^_^;
SHQ: Recently your site has been known as the one which hosts the Sonic SatAM petition. Congratulations on recieving 1000 signatures by the way Artie. ^___^ What prompted you to take on the reigns of this petition? Do you think that it will succeed where others have failed - and if so why?
TA: Well, I first took on the petition because I thought a more popular SOnic site could gather more signatures than some other smaller sites. I wasn't doing it to try to beat out those other petitions, I just wanted SatAM back as much as they did. The first petition died though (The script for it), and I decided I'd just leave it at that and let the other petition on SoNiN's site gather signatures. But a while after that, he notified me that he was going to move his site and his petition was going to be lost. So I started up another petition, and I must say I;'m pleased with the amount of signatures it's recieved thus far :) There's one thing I'd like to say though, if you've already signed it, don't sign it again! 2, 3, or 10 signatures from the same person don't help a thing in a petition. I do know that another Sonic cartoon is supposedly in the works, but I'll comment on that more when I know more about it.
SHQ: How do you think Sega should handle the development of its characters in non-videogame media? Do they have an obligation to keep Sonic and the other characters as close to their game personalities as possible, or do they need to allow the comic/TV/whatever writers freedom to develop the characters as they see fit?
TA: Well, personally, I don't see much room for development characterwise in a lot of the older Sonic games. I think Sega did an excellent job in creating personalities for the characters when SatAM was aired. I know there are a lot of fans now though, who prefer the Sega storylines of Sonic CD, Sonic Adventure, etc. I'm just not as much into those, but to each his own... I say let Ben Hurst loose at DiC with the 3rd season script for SatAM!! :D
SHQ: What is your honest opinion on the Archie comics? Vile desecration to Sonic or helpful image that keeps him alive?
TA: Forgive me for saying so, but: Vile desecration to Sonic! In the story sense, I think they've ruined Sonic, but the comic does serve to keep the title of Sonic alive. I haven't read any of the issues after around 60 something or so. I just lost interest when I saw the direction they were heading with the series. They've gone from SatAM continuation to video game storylines, and I'm just not into that.
SHQ: Why do you think some Sonic fans show so much animocity towards leaving the Sonic SatAM continuity - do you believe moving more towards Sonic Adventure was the right thing? Why?
TA: Well, as my personal opinions continue, I prefer pure SatAM to be the true Sonic universe. I believe what they're doing with the comic is a way to please many fans, but just not me.
SHQ: What has been your best, saddest, and most frustrating moment ever in the production of Team Artail? Describe some of your most memorable moments good and bad.
TA: Hmm.. well, The best moment that stands out in my mind was when I did an update that posted 325 new pics of fan art at one time! :) I'd have to say the saddest moment for me was when I was afraid I'd lose my site when I had to make the move from www.artail.com (hosted on mightyfox.com) back to artail.simplenet.com. I had to redo the site simply with what I had saved on my HD, because the server it was hosted on went down without any warning and I couldn't reach any of the files on it, or the admin. It's frustrating to me sometimes when people send me emails flaming me for one thing or another, saying I think I'm the best and I want to block out other Sonic sites and whatnot. Now it's my own opinion that I'm NOT the best. I think Sonic HQ and The Sonic Foundation keep way more up to date with happenings in the Sonic community than I do.
SHQ: The comics that you host - based on the works of Dan Drazen? What prompted these?
TA: Well, I had long since been a fan of Drazen's Sonic fanfics. I toyed with the idea of getting some of the artists on my site to produce comic adaptations of the stories, and I got Drazen's permission to go ahead with it. So I asked around the artists on my site and found a couple who were willing :)
SHQ: Your site hosts work of the likes of Rina Cat and Bara Chan, who designed your logo. What Sonic fan artist stands out in your mind most? And what makes those artists work so special?
TA: There is no way I could pick out one, or even a handful of personal favorite artists. All I can say is take a look at the Sonic/Furry fan art archive on my site. THOSE are my favorite artists! :)
SHQ: Do you remember Yerf? Back in the old days of Sonic fandom, before Yerf.com placed a pagewide ban on Sonic artwork of all forms it was one of THE PLACES to place your art. In your opinion, was it wise of them to shut it down just because they had gotten too much of an influx of Sonic? Do you believe that originality in fan characters - or lack thereof in some cases - is what prompted this shutdown?
TA: I think it was the opinion of most furry fans that Sonic shouldn't really fall into the category. And I totally believe in originality in fan characters. I really hate seeing people rip off other people's characters, but I won't get involved in a fight between them about it. As for Yerf, I think it was entirely okay to do what they did. They were providing a free service for hosting art, and although I really don't care for the management there, I've gotta say their file management scripts rock :)
SHQ: What things OUTSIDE of Sonic net fandom do you like to do? Some know you have a fascination for Anime - specifically what kinds and why?
TA: Ah yes, Anime, my newest obsession ^_^ Well, my favorite series are Tenchi Muyo, Battle Athletes, Lain, Evangelion, Pretty Sammy, and Gundam Wing, just to name a few. And my favorite anime character of all time is Sasami/Pretty Sammy! Heh, well anyway, I have a huge collection of anime DVDs which you can view here (http://www.dvdtracker.com/~artail.asp). And aside from Anime, I don't really have any other interests outside of Sonic.. I'm just some anti-social loser who sits on the computer all day :)
SHQ: Do you believe that Sonic fandom now is tighter than it has been or spread apart further? What do you think has caused this? Do you believe that the big Sonic webpages like the Sonic HQ, The Sonic Foundation, Neo Green Hill Zone, and TeamArtail, and the numerous mailing lists and newsgroups help to keep Sonic alive in the fandom or hurt it?
TA: I think Sonic fandom is spread out more now than it ever has been. With all the options you have now with the games, SatAM, Archie, Sonic Underground, there's fans of each. Web Sites and mailing lists do help to keep the fandom alive by providing a medium of communication and news for the fans.
SHQ: In addition to that - do you think our voices as a fandom even matters to Sega and DiC?
TA: I think the thing that matters most to the companies involved is our wallets. When you think about it, everyone is out to make money in the business. But sometimes the best way to go about doing this is to actually listen to the fans and seewhat they want. It's one thing to SAY you'll go and buy something, but it's another thing to actually go and DO it.
SHQ: What are your current favorite videogames and why?
TA: Well, I haven't really been in the video game loop lately ^_^; Too much anime on the brain! But I really like the Final Fantasy series and I'm REALLY looking forward to the movie next year. My favorite genre is RPGs.
SHQ: Do you think that Sega and DiC truly care about the Sonic character anymore?
TA: I think there are those within the company who do care about the characters (Ben Hurst for one), but I think the prevailant way of thinking for the higher up people is to try to do whatever makes the most money for them.
SHQ: Robotnik's old look (SatAM) VS Robotnik's new look (Eggman - Sonic Adventure)? Honestly - what do you think is better? ^_^
TA: Robotnik's SatAM look ruled! He completely fit the part of an evil dictator! I think Eggman is more of a comical look, as it doesn't really send as much the point of evil across to me as SatAM Robotnik did.
SHQ: What has been your most memorable (good and bad) experience with Sonic fandom both in real life and on the internet?
TA: In real life.. hmm.. I'd have to say watching SatAM on Saturday mornings as a kid. On the internet... I really don't know what I'd put for this, so I think I'll just avoid the question ^_^;
SHQ: Are Videogames truly a form of art? What do you have to say to people that think it is or isn't?
TA: Hmm.. I really can't say I have an opinion on the matter... but if I were forced to choose, I'd say that video games are a form of art, for the people who create them in Japan. I'm sure for most games that a lot of work goes into creating the characters and story for the game.
SHQ: Who are your influences in life?
TA: Hmm.. I don't think I have any O.o
SHQ: What makes doing your webpage fun?
TA: The satisfaction of getting a large update done, getting fan mail, or watching that counter go up! ^_^
SHQ: What are your future plans for your career? What do you aspire to do?
TA: Well, I've been toying with the idea of making an Anime division for Team Artail, but I haven't made any official decision on that yet.
SHQ: And finally - What kind of challenge would you like to pursue now? And what is your greatest achievement with Team Artail?
TA: Well, as I said, I'm thinking about doing an Anime site :) I think my greatest achievement on Team Artail is the Furry/Sonic fan art archive, completely maintained by hand and with over 5,000 pics!
For an encore, Artie we'd like to ask if you can give a list of favorites to wrap this all up. ^_^
Favorite Films: Do Anime feature films count? ^_^ Princess Mononoke! Tenchi Muyo In Love!
Favorite Singers And Music: Two-Mix! I also listen to a wise variety of anime and game music.
Favorite TV: Toonami on Cartoon Network, and SatAM, should it ever return! I also really like "Whose Line is it Anyway?" on ABC Thursdays :)
Favorite Books: Books require reading! ick! Oh wait.. so does the internet ^_^;;;
Favorite Videogames: Final Fantasy 4 & 6, Lufia 1, Sonic CD, Lunar 1 & 2
And lastly your closing statements to the Sonic HQ Staff on thier anniversary and any Sonic fans reading today: ^_^
Um.. thanks for interviewing me and thanks to the viewers for reading it? ^_^;
Once again we thank the wonderful and generous Artie for this fantastic interview. See you next time!