Rough is on the left, Tumble on the right.

A new era of Sonic comics begins in April, when IDW releases the first four issues of its Sonic the Hedgehog series. The skunk brothers above are Rough and Tumble, a pair of new villains who’ll be causing a stink for Sonic and Knuckles in issue three.

Last year Sega surprised fans when it announced it was parting ways with Archie Comics, the publisher responsible for Sonic books since 1993. Sega said it wanted to go in “a different direction.” That direction is IDW Publishing, the company that’s done great things with other licensed properties like Transformers and My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. While IDW has tapped long-time Sonic scribe Ian Flynn to pen the series, the new Sonic the Hedgehog comic book is a fresh start, requiring no knowledge of previous books.

Rough and Tumble are the first of a whole host of new characters planned for the new series. Associate editor David Mariotte, speaking to Kotaku about the new characters, said, “They’re independent agents, and more bullies than masterminds, but they’re tough enough to maybe become someone’s henchmen down the line.”

IDW shared these finalized concepts with Kotaku, complete with color guides and undershoe patterns. DeviantArt Sonic fans, start your engines.

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Adding new characters to the Sonic comic book universe involved a bit of back-and-forth between IDW and Sega.

“Ian’s pretty much able to come up with folks on the fly and any major characters we run by Sega for approval,” said Mariotte of the creation process. “There are a few stages, from Ian’s initial paragraph or two description of the character, to getting someone like the talented Tyson Hesse to draw up designs and turnarounds for Sega to see the character, to having a final design and solidifying their personality in the script.”

Rough and Tumble’s final approved designs are quite a bit different from the initial sketches IDW showed me. While I can’t share them here, I can say the eyes are more defined, there’s less clothing, and Tumble looks a lot less rabid.

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Rough here looked much more frightening in early sketches.

I think they look pretty cool, for a couple of stinkers.

The first issue of IDW’s Sonic the Hedgehog series hits comic shops on April 4, followed by weekly releases for issues two, three and four.

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Update 2/16 1:33 PM: IDW informed us that a mistake had been made, and the names of the characters reversed. Rough is the little one, Tumble is the big one. The article has been edited to reflect the correct names.