The Tick was created by Ben Edlund in 1986 as a mascot for his local comic book shop’s newsletter. In 1988 the idea was spun-off into an independent comic book series and in 1984 The Tick got his own saturday morning cartoon. Before all was said and done Patrick Warburton played The Tick in a short-lived live action adaptation. With so many different incarnations of The Tick, which was the best? All of them.
Ben Edlund, who wrote and illustrated the first 12 issues of the comic book series (the greatest in The Tick’s still going comic book lifespan), miraculously managed to retain a significant amount of control and creative input with each and every incarnation of The Tick, and boy does it show.
Thus, each version of The Big Blue Bug Of Justice is just as funny, if not more so, than the version that preceded it. In the original 12 issues of the comic series, The Tick is an anonymous, short-tempered lunatic, who, after escaping a local asylum, declares himself protector of “The City.” In the funny books, the Tick not only thinks of himself as a “nigh-invulnerable” superhero, he believes he is an actual tick. He’s this sort of dry, unexcited nut who somehow manages to pick a fight with superman and tangle himself in a terrorist, ninja organization. When The Tick blacks out and wakes to find himself lying in a subway tunnel, his realization? “I’m not too up on my whale anatomy, but i don’t recall them having metal rails in their stomachs… It must be a blue whale.”
The most widely know version is perhaps the animated series, which began as a saturday morning venture on Fox and made brief appearances through syndicated media like Adult Swim. Mostly faithful to the ideas set in motion by the comic, The Tick is more of a jolly, quotable whacko. Among the greatest of said quotes: “My middle name used to be ‘Helping People’. The Helping People Tick.”
Finally, the shortest-lived of all The Tick’s ventures… His live-action foray melded the satire and wit of the comic and cartoon with the unique sitcom sensibilities of Seinfeld. Sadly, the show lasted only eight episodes. Perhaps Dalton Ross of Entertainment Weekly said it best when he lamented: “It was too smart. Too funny. Too weird. So, of course, it failed.”
I recently sunk into a shameless Tick binge, rereading the original comic book series, watching the animated series (only seasons 1 and 2 have been released in the states) and the eight, wonderful episodes that feature Mr. Warburton in the Tick suit that keeps him from turning his head. In each and every world of The Tick, i was laughing as hard as i always have. Occasionally mumblings of a big-screen adaptation surface in interviews with the show’s cast and creators and unlikely though it may seem, i say to myself: “Stranger things have happened, and hope is a wonderful thing.”