Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Cartoon Historian Lesson 10: The Tick

Welcome My Students. Today's lesson is all about The Tick.

Ah,The Tick! One of the greatest cartoon icons of the 90's,whose fandom still lives on today. But how did this guy came to be? Well,we're about to find out.

The Tick was created by cartoonist Ben Edlund in 1986 as a newsletter mascot of New England Comics for a chain of Boston comic stores.

The Tick is a spoof of comic book superheroes. After the Tick's creation,Ben Edlund,spun it off into an independent comic book series in 1988.

The Tick gained popularity through an animated TV series on Fox Kids in 1994. The Tick also had a short-lived live-action TV series(also aired on fox),a video game and even a toy line.

The Animated series debuted on September 10, 1994 on the Fox network's Fox Kids block and was responsible for introducing the satirical comic book character to a mainstream audience.

Lasting three successful seasons,the final episode aired on November 27, 1996. Since then,The show has gained a cult following,and has been released on both VHS and DVD. A live-action series was created in 2001. Though It didn't do to well.

Ben Edlund was producing his independent comic book series based on the Tick while he was still in collage. Sometime later,he was approached by Kiscom,a small,New Jersey-based toy licensing and design company.

Kiscom wanted to create a successful toy line off The Tick similar to that of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. They then wanted to do an independent comic series a year later.

Unfortunatly,major TV networks and studios were reluctant to take on an animated series based on an absurd character like the Tick. Kiscom stayed in touch with Edlund and finally Sunbow Entertainment, a small animation company based out of New York,paired him up with writer Richard Libmann-Smith.

The two had virtually no experience in animation or television,but for two months worked on the first episode of The Tick. Neither man held high esteem over their final script and their feelings were validated when FOX turned down the first pitch.

They were given one more chance to refine it within five days. Over the following weekend, the two worked with little sleep,but ended up satisfying FOX. Edlund later reflected, "We kind of defined in one weekend exactly where the show went for that first season, which was cool."

While some darker characters and mature elements seen in the comic series would be removed for its animated counterpart, Sunbow's Tick series would still hold to its satirical roots.

Writing duties were also given to Christopher McCulloch who had met Edlund prior to their television work and wrote several issues of the Tick comic book series.

Edlund,who co-produced The Animated series,remained very hands-on during the production of episodes and delayed the series. According to Edlund:

"There was a period where I was extremely attentive to everything that had to be solved, and these efforts ultimately made the show a year late. I saw the storyboards that were being done and realized that if The Tick were animated off of those, it would fall apart.

It would be a shadow of what it is now, which is something that isn't massively successful, but has this real staying power. So now instead of looking like bad '90s animation, it kind of looks like bad '70s superhero animation, which definitely has a unique style about it."

The Tick Show finally premiered on September 10,1994 and met with success. Edlund later expressed his view that, because the series did not reach the commercial heights of Ninja Turtles,its merchandising success deteriorated by the end of its first season.

However,he gave a positive view,stating that that's essentially good as far as he's concerned and that to him this failure makes The Tick a much more sincere proposal.

Rather than being an asylum escapee,like in the comic book series, the animated version of The Tick crashes a superhero convention to win the "protectorship" of The City.

The Tick became a Saturday morning icon during the Fox Kids block. Its title character was voiced by the versatile Townsend Coleman and his sidekick, Arthur, by Micky Dolenz for Season 1. Arthur was an Accountant who always wore his Moth costume. He always got annoyed when people confused his Moth costume for a Rabbit Costume.

Anyway,Rob Paulsen would take over the part of Arthur during Seasons 2 and 3. The series also features Die Fledermaus as a shallow,self-absorbed Batman parody; Sewer Urchin,a Rain Man-like version of Aquaman; and American Maid,a more noble superheroine featuring aspects of Wonder Woman and Captain America.

It's also woth noting that in the pilot episode,The Tick's color switched from being blue to green. Now,I don't know why that is,but my guess would be blundering by the color artists.

The show's opening theme wes written by Doug Katsaros. Katsaros also did the music for every episode. The music for the show consists mostly of of big band music and scat singing.

A typical episode plot would have The Tick battling a villain until Arthur devises a solution that saves the day. The Tick also had a catch phrase/battle cry that was as absurd as he was. And that word was "Spoon". That's right Spoon. I told ya it was absurd.

Anyway,At the end of each adventure,The Tick declares a slightly absurd moral regarding the previous conflict. Although the series was initially aimed at the 8-12 croud,The Tick features an absurd parody style that appeals to an older audience as well.

After three seasons,on November 1996,The Tick had come to an end. The following year,FOX began talks with Sunbow Entertainment about producing a prime time Tick special,but this never came to be.

In May 2001,the pilot episode for a live action series of The Tick was created. FOX attempted to capitalize on the adult fan base by introducing this new incarnation in November 2001,but the series couldn't match the success of its animated predecessor.

In 1995,The Tick was nominated for several Daytime Emmys. Emmys For Outstanding Achivement in Animation,Outstanding Sound Editing,and Outstanding Achivement in Sound Mixing.

In March of 2008,Wizard magazine ranked The Tick #16 on its Top 100 Greatest Cartoons. In January of 2009,IGN ranked The Tick #6 on its Top 100 Animated Series list. IGN went on to regard The show as the first great lampooning of the superhero genre and compared the series to Mel Brooks and Monty Python.

Ok,so this wasn't the most exciting cartoon lesson of all,but at least we know where the Big Blue hero came from. I always liked this cartoon series and if you haven't seen it yet,look it up on Youtube.

Well that's gonna do it for now. I hope ya'll found my Lesson interesting and entertaining. Class Dismissed. Spoon!!

Rock On and Stay Cold,


BreaktheWalls said...

Wow, interesting lesson man, had no idea that the Tick had such a history

Money $ign said...

Would you ever be up for a live action version of the tick, Stefan?

Stefan said...

Well,no really,Money $ign. I prefer the Toon Tick. And octuple thankies,BreakTheWalls for finding my lesson interesting.