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, Tick creator Ben Edlund was producing his independent comic book series based on the character. He was eventually approached by Kiscom, a small, New Jersey-based toy licensing and design company. Kiscom wanted to merchandise The Tick, much in the way that the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, a rival independent comic series, had been merchandised the previous year. 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. Over only one weekend, they worked "instinctively" with little-to-no sleep, and succeeded in convincing FOX to pick up the series. 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 sexual innuendo seen in the comic series would be removed for its animated counterpart, Sunbow's Tick series would hold to its satirical roots. 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."
Rather than being an asylum escapee, as portrayed in the Tick comic book series, the animated version of The Tick crashes the tryouts at the National Super Institute in Reno, Nevada competition was being held to determine what city each hero wold protect. The Tick, along with Arthur, the reluctant, realistic former accountant, were voiced by Townsend Coleman and Micky Dolenz, respectively. Although in seasons 2 and 3 Arthur was portrayed by Rob Paulsen, an existing regular on the series. Other recurring characters include Die Fledermaus, a shallow Batman parody and unsuccessful philanderer; Sewer Urchin, an Aquaman parody who bares significant resemblance to Raymond Babbitt, Dustin Hoffman's character in Rain Man; and American Maid, one of The City's more successful superheroes, 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 19050s-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 Tick's final episode aired November 24, 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 and subsequently helped make it a cult hit with adults.
In June 2005, Toon Disney began airing The Tick along with other former FOX animated series like X-Men. It would also occasionally air on ABC Family as part of the Jetix cartoon block.