The Tick is an animated television series that aired for three seasons from 1994 to 1996. It is an adaptation of the comic book published by New Endgland Comics, created by Ben Edlund (who also produced the series).
While in college, Ben Edlund was writing and illustrating his Tick comic book, which had become a hit. Becuase of its success, Kiscom, a New Jersey-based liscensing and design company, approached Edlund about merchandising his characters, after the recent success of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Major TV networks and studios were reluctant to take on an animated series based on the absurd character. Kiscom stayed in touch with Edlund and finally Sunbow Entertainment, the small, New York-based animation company that created The Transformers, G.I. Joe, and The Mask, paired him up with writer Richard Liebmann-Smith. Neither had ever worked in animation or television, but for two months they toiled on the first episode of The Tick. Neither of them had much hope in their final script, and their feelings of dread were substantiated when FOX turned down their first pitch. They were, however, provided with a second opportunity to refine it in, at most, five days. In one weekend, they managed to create a script that interested FOX enough to make them agree to produce 13 episodes. Said Edlund on the initial plan for the series, "we kind of defined in one weekend exactly where the show went for that first season, which was cool."
The series, despite not having the liberties that the comic had to do things not acceptable on a children's program, still mostly remained true to the comic, and its satirical style. Another writer on the series was Christopher McCulloch who had met Edlund prior to their television work and wrote several issues of the Tick comic book series. Years later, they would later work together on McCulloch's animated series, produced for Adult Swim, The Venture Bros.. Edlund, a co-producer of The Tick, was consistently hands-on during production, causing major delays in production.
The Tick finally premiered on September 10, 1994, and was a success. Edlund later expressed his view that, because the series did not reach the commercial heights of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, its merchandising success deteriorated by the end of its first season. However, he admitted "That's essentially good as far as I'm concerned; although, I would be much more wealthy at this point. That failure, to me, makes The Tick a much more sincere proposal."
As opposed to escaping an asylum, the Tick tries out at the National Super Institute, where an annual contest is held to determine what city each superhero will protect, and he receives the cesspool that is The City. The Tick, along with Arthur, the reluctant, realistic former accountant, were voiced by Townsend Coleman and Micky Dolenz, respectively, in the first season. Although in seasons 2 and 3 Arthur was portrayed by Rob Paulsen, an existing regular on the series, for unconfirmed reasons (though a tour that Dolenz went on is the most likely answer). Other recurring characters include Die Fledermaus, a shallow Batman parody and unsuccessful philanderer; Sewer Urchin, an Aquaman parody with the voice of Raymond Babbitt, Dustin Hoffman's character in Rain Man (not voiced by Hoffman, though. Rather, by Jess Harnell); and American Maid, one of the few superheroes in the series that has even some level of legitimacy, seemingly based on both Wonder Woman and Captain America. The Tick soon became a Saturday morning staple on the "Fox Kids" block.
Doug Katsaros, wrote the opening theme, and composed the scores for every episode, mostly consisting of scat singing and 1950s-style jazz. A typical episode plot would have Tick battling a villain until Arthur devises a solution that saves the day, though there were many episodes that deviated from this formula. The Tick then declares an absurd moral vaguely regarding the previous conflict before the story comes to a close. Although the series was originally aimed predominantly at young viewers, its dry, absurd style and niche parody drew in an adult audience.
After three seasons, the final episode aired on November 24th, 1996. The following year, FOX began talks with Sunbow Entertainment about producing a prime time Tick special, but this never came to fruition. Comedy Central syndicated The Tick during this time, cementing its cult status with many viewers.
The series ran from September 10, 1994, to November 24, 1996, with 36 episodes total.