With some recent activity regarding Sally's redesign I thought it might be fun to go through the development process and show some production stuff.
In early 2011 editor Paul Kaminski asked if I would be interested in redesigning Sally and I jumped eagerly at the opportunity. I was intimidated but honored to mess around with such a prominent character.
The idea was to do a three stage process, she would be roboticized, weaponized, and (due to Eggman's tinkering) restored with a new design. At the time I believe the plan was already in motion to do a huge story arc with her, keeping her roboticized until 250 or somewhere around there. I recall thinking it was going to be a year or two with her as a robot, and that it could be pretty cool. Knowing that I was going to do so much with the character right from the start allowed me to make certain design decisions during each stage that would eventually be reflected in her new "normal" design (the closed vest for example).
Stage 1- Roboticization
This is where I spent the least amount of time. The only specific direction I was given was to use Patrick Spaziante's design from the cover of issue 29, which was totally fine with me.
Issue 29 is one of the comic's I purchased as a kid and I recall being bitterly disappointed by her interior design. Spaz's cover made her look cool! I don't recall what the story was about at all, I guess it wasn't very good, but I spent a lot of time admiring that cover.
I wanted to capture its essence as much as possible, but also ensure it fit into the current look and feel of the videogame's visual robotic presentation. I've stated this before, but the videogames are what I like. They're what inspired me to read and eventually draw Sonic comics. I want comics that fit perfectly with the games, and I think all of my design choices and philosophy come from that interest. I don't care what's been done in the comic, or how things look in the comic. It's gotta be like the games!
So decisions had to be made to flesh out this full design-
Removed the tech patterns across her body, along with additional muscular bumps and bits. Too much detail and incongruous with the games.
Removed the shoulder pads. I knew I was going to design a second form of Mecha Sally and those shoulder pads were looking pretty wicked. I wanted to bring those in later to help sell the idea of her upgrade making her tougher.
Solve the problem of her hair. What Spaz drew on the original cover looks neat, but it unfortunately covers the bulk of her hair and just what happens up there. How do those pieces connect and what does it look like as a 3D shape? I drew this a lot, you can see tiny little Sally heads from different views trying to figure out exactly how she works, and eventually managed to get a basic idea for the layered bangs and at least one of Spaz's downward spikes in the back too!
Keep the blue eyes! At least for this form, I think there's something more unsettling about her blue eyes. Like she's so close to being the close friend you've known for the last 15 years, the similarities highlight losing her.
After settling on a general direction, I did the 01 and 02 sketches and sent off to Paul and writer Ian Flynn for review. The only difference between the two is the dark red band of metal at the base of her hair on option 02. Paul and Ian decided to go with 01, but I got really into this band of darker red and brought it back for the weaponized stage, which I'll post later.
I recall Paul wanted to give her thicker thighs and he may have sent a quick doodle my way for the additional metal plates added to her legs in the turnaround at the bottom. It's been two and half years so I can't be certain, but I think that was his idea. If they weren't then I guess I came up with it but either way I liked how weird and slightly difficult they were to draw. I didn't want to just thicken those parts of her legs, I wanted this piece of metal coming off and acting as a type of guard.
Ideas that didn't get used-
Up top in the sketches you can make out a quick doodle where I toyed around with the idea of including an actual saw at the base of her hair. That could have been fun.
Next to the cover for 29, you'll see a doodle for a potential body design with boots that widen at the bottom. I think that looks pretty cool and might have been a good path to go down.
And finally the examples of Mecha Sonic doing wild stuff with his robot mouth. I always liked how imaginative Spaz was and would have loved to see Mecha Sally do more stuff with her mouth.
My favorite details-
The wrist detail from Spaz's original design.
Her little tail spike.
And those buckles(?) on her boots!