Since the alphabet is the building block of our language, the Powet Alphabet is the building block of what makes us geeks.

I know many followers of the site were expecting me to do Transformers for T. I think one of the great things about this article series, though, is the randomness and variety of topics we span from week to week. I like to see articles that I don’t necessarily expect on familiar and/or unfamiliar topics. I could not think of anything more random and unexpected than just about anything from a Tick story. For that very reason T is for The Tick.


My first introduction to The Tick was in the early 90’s going from New England Comics to New England Comics searching for back issues of X-Men. NEC distributed The Tick comic and had ads for it everywhere. It was not until the Animated Series debuted, though, that I would fully appreciate in what I was missing.

The Tick is a parody of the superhero comic genre. Created by Ben Edlund, it hit the scene in 1986 and has been selling out steadily ever since. The first 13 issue run was written and drawn by Edlund. It is by far the best volume of Tick comics I have read to date. It may as well serve as the bible for the animated series that would follow. Shortly after the end of this first comic’s run, Edlund was approached to create an animated series of the franchise. It would end up airing on Fox and running for 3 seasons and would later be followed by a shortlived live-action sitcom.

There is no real origin story for The Tick in the materials I have read thus far. In the comic, he is an escapee from a mental institution. In the animated series, he just shows up to a convention for superheroes where judging takes place to determine what city he should protect. The Tick drew The City. There is also no explanation of how he attained his powers and honestly, there does not need to be one. In the same way we do not need to know what Master Chief, from Halo, looks like, we do not need to know specifics about The Tick’s origins. He is, and therefore we laugh.

It would be irresponsible of me to completely bestow the hilarity of The Tick solely on The Tick. His supporting characters help prop him up. Arthur, the sidekick, is an OCD, former accountant trying to find some excitement in his life by using a moth suit that gives him the ability to fly, though most of the time he is mistaken for a bunny. Arthur’s small apartment in The City serves as headquarters for the pair leading to an entertaining ‘Odd Couple’ dynamic. On patrol and fighting villainy, they are sometimes joined by other heroes of The City including American Maid, a patriotic parody of Wonder Woman; Die Fledermaus, a boastful and wimpish parody of Batman (he’s doing it for the ladies); and Sewer Urchin, a parody of Aquaman (kind of) whose main weapon is his sewer stench. There are many more including Big Shot (Punisher parody), The Human Bullet and the Crusading Chameleon to name a few. This is just from the animated series. While many of the characters appear in the comics, there are also a great many in the comics that did not make the transition to animation.

The villains share just as much, if not more, responsibility for making the show so hysterical. Some of the more prominent villains from the first half of the series include the kingpin-like Chairface Chippendale whose head is a sitting chair; El Seed, a walking, spaniard accented, talking sunflower dressed in matador clothes bent on ruling the world with his plant brethren and his hench-women the Bee Twins; Pineapple Popoko, General and ruler of Popokonesia, a land whose only resources are pineapples and sharks; and that chef of chicanery, The Breadmaster, a twisted and genius baker bent on revenge for being kicked out of The City’s culinary school and armed with baked goods of mass destruction!

There are too many aspects of the show to name them all. Most of the episodes follow a fairly generic formula of The Tick and Arthur taking care of errands for the apartment or out on patrol, encountering that episode’s foil, and after the peril is over The Tick drops a ridiculous moral on us all that rarely makes sense. I would highly recommend a look at a list of Tick quotes for a good laugh. Top on nearly any list would be “SPOOON!”, The Tick’s battle cry as he engages the enemy. This is opposed to Arthur’s battle cry of “NOT IN THE FACE! NOT IN THE FACE!”

DVD Releases
The Animated Series was released on DVD as a season 1 set and a season 2 set. No season 3 set was ever released to my knowledge. Unfortunately the season 1 set is missing the episode The Tick vs The Molemen. The season 2 set is missing the episode Alone Together featuring Omnipotus, a parody of Marvel’s world devourer, Galactus. These two season sets feature the syndicated edited version of all the episodes and not the originally aired versions. A 3 season complete box set was released in the UK that was not missing any episodes and was also unedited and uncut. With the release of several older Fox animated series by Disney, including the 90’s X-Men cartoon, many are holding out hope for a complete uncut box set of The Tick to still be released.

In other media:
– Robot Chicken
Chairface Chippendale made a cameo on Robot Chicken sharing his plans to trick Kim Kardashian to sit on his face.

– Transformers Animated
Transformers Animated’s Sentinel Prime was voiced by none other than Townsend Coleman, the voice actor of The Tick. He was hired long enough ahead of time that the concept design for the character was based heavily on The Tick. For more information you can check out my video review of Sentinel Prime here.

– Venture Bros
After Ben Edlund finished his initial run on the Tick comic book series, he recruited Christopher McCulloch to work on the follow-up series, Karma Tornado. After the first arc of Karma Tornado was finished, however, McCulloch left to help Edlund work on the animated series due to an increase in ordered episodes from Fox. More recently the tables have turned and McCulloch created the Venture Bros. series where he would bring Edlund on to help with writing duties.

The Tick is a series that still resonates with fans, new and old, nearly 25 years after its initial issue debuted. If you remember the animated show fondly, or never saw it before, there is no time like the present. If that wasn’t enough for you, the comics have recently been re-released in black and white trade paperback form starting with The Complete Edlund, a must read for any Tick fan! (From what I can tell, it looks like the original books were in color, but have long since been out of print.)

And that is why T is for The Tick.