Off Panel is a series of humorous comic strips featured in the Sonic-Grams column of Archie Sonic the Hedgehog, the Fistful of Letters column of Archie Knuckles the Echidna, the My Sonic Universe column of Sonic Universe, and the Sonic Boom Blast column of Archie Sonic Boom.
First seen in StH #12 as a series of untitled illustrations about the Archie Comics staff, the strips were run semi-regularly starting with StH #25 before eventually being discontinued in StH #42. This version of Off Panel was briefly known as "The Adventures of Scott & Paul" after editors Scott Fulop and Paul Castiglia.
The feature returned with the name "Off Panel" in StH #67. This, like the previous version of Off Panel, ran at irregular intervals. This version focused more of its humor on the core Sonic cast interacting with Archie Comics employees, usually with Sonic or Knuckles bugging the current editor about the comic's production and stories. Three backup stories (seen in StH #126, StH #147, and StH #158) act as extended Off Panels. The final Off Panels written in this style were featured in StH #170.
Starting with SU #1, Off Panel returned in its third (and current) form. Instead of focusing on the real world Archie Comics, the new Off Panel strips were jokes told in-universe featuring characters from the issue the Off Panel was printed in, usually about the issue's story. Off Panel began a monthly publication schedule starting with SU #13 and StH #205.
Off-Panel Exclusive Characters
Deadline was a character featured solely in the Off-Panel story for StH #126. Apparently an aspiring writer, he sent in his story ideas-such Mammoth Mogul joining a flea circus, Knuckles discovering that his father is really Elvis Presley, and Robotnik dancing on the ashes of Knothole-in the hopes that they would be published. When this failed to occur, he used his magical "horror glass" to speed up the deadline for the comics, resulting in the comics becoming low quality. However, the editor managed to defeat him by calling upon every then-current and past member of the comics staff to bury him beneath an "onslaught of talent!"
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Mama Robotnik is the mother of the version of Dr. Robotnik featured in the Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog television series. Though she has not been featured in the comics-and most likely will not due to SEGA restrictions against the major video game characters featured in the series having relatives-she has appeared in a number of Off-Panel strips, fitting in with the humorous nature of the series. In StH #258, she was featured as a possible "girlfriend" for Professor Pickle being visited by his assistant Q. Cumber. StH #269, which included appearances and references to many Adventures characters, saw her informing Breezie the Hedgehog that it was too late to back out of being in the comics.
- All Off-Panel strips are considered non-canon to the overall Archieverse.
- Earlier predecessors to the Off Panel series can be found in the earliest issues of the comic's run, as well as the original mini-series; the short stories, pinup posters, and activity sheets have the same comedic focus and irreverent tone as the Off Panel. Unlike their successor, the canonical status of these features is questionable.
- The Archie Mega Man series has it's own equivalent to the Off Panel strips, entitled Short Circuits, which serve the same purpose. The Sonic characters appeared in these strips during the Worlds Collide and Worlds Unite sagas, and vice versa.