The Final ’80s Countdown, Part Twenty-One.

§ October 2nd, 2023 § Filed under final countdown § 5 Comments

Back to Ye Olde Favorite ’80s Comicks Polle for our latest entry:

The Tick (New England Comics 1988-1995)

I’m a’gonna get the shameful confession out of the way first. I…never really got into any of the Tick comic books or its many, many spinoffs beyond the initial issues by creator Ben Edlund (those cited in the heading just above).

I know, I know, don’t yell at me. People loved the Tick, as per my observations as a humble funnybook seller over the decades. Folks didn’t just get one series and skip the others…they bought all Ticks, all the time, as fast and as many as were published. Even recently, after I acquired a giant pile of Tick back issues for the shop, they remain regular sellers. (Wither new Tick comics? More on that in a moment.)

Now, that first Tick series launched around the same time I started working at the local comic book store, and was also attending college. I didn’t start buying it from the beginning, despite the fact 1) I was always looking for new and weird offbeat books, 2) I always checked out the black and white comics for idiosyncratic visions, and 3) I liked comics that were funny.

But it took a college pal, Ray, who also worked just down the street from the comic shop and would buy comics from me occasionally, to turn me onto the book. Just hanging out between glasses one day, Ray asked me if I’d been reading The Tick, and after I said no, he regaled me with a handful of funny bits from the comic…enough so that next time I was at work, I decided to try it out.

And it was a good decision. That first series, under Edlund’s pen, was a wild ride of a superhero parody, starring a mysterious, oversized, “nigh-invulnerable” dude in a blue costume with antennae fighting crime in his own peculiar way. Eventually accompanied by Arthur, his moth-costumed pal who, as far as I remember, only went by “Arthur” as his superhero name.

Tick started as a mascot created by Edlund for the New England Comics store, appearing in newsletters until graduated to its own full-sized comic. (And I mean “full-sized” as it was printed at “Golden Age” size, larger in dimensions than other not-as-funny comics on the stands.) It ended up being enormously popular, with multiple Tick series (Karma Tornado starting during the initial series’ run) following by Many Other Hands. And that’s not counting spin-offs like Paul the Samurai and Man-Eating Cow.

Look, a lot of great people worked on these other non-Edlund comics. I admire the craft and consistency and willingness to just continue keeping Tick on the shelves and in front of people. But…what tickled me about those original Ticks didn’t seem to be in these other releases. Probably a “me” problem, since humor is very subjective. Again, don’t yell at me, please.

Now, if you want to read the Tick…well, nothing is currently being published, and the Tick offerings for recent Free Comic Book Days have even dropped off of late. On the plus side, a lot of Tick comics and trade paperbacks reprinting those comics have been unleashed over the years, so there should be plenty of these out there to track down. The most recently available book, brought back into print on occasion over the last few years, is a trade paperback reprinting the Complete Edlund stories (plus the Psuedo-Edition #13, produced to provide the thirteenth issue Edlund planned but never did).

I didn’t list all the series and reprints and variants and whathaveyou here just because there are so many. My suggestion is try out the Edlund material first, and if you like that, ignore cranky old Mike’s opinions and try out some of the spinoffs, which most people like just fine.

Should also note the media spinoffs, including a well-regarded animated series, a beloved single season of a live action show starring Patrick Warburton, and a couple seasons of a more adult-oriented but still hilarious Amazon Price series starring Peter Serafinowicz. Oddly enough, I loved the live action shows (more the Warburton one than the Amazon one), but I never warmed to the cartoon. Look, I know that makes me a weirdo…the path I follow is not an easy one.

5 Responses to “The Final ’80s Countdown, Part Twenty-One.”

  • Thelonious_Nick says:

    “Look, I know that makes me a weirdo…the path I follow is not an easy one.”

    Hey, you go where (Frank Miller’s) the Spirit leads you.

  • CalvinPitt says:

    My experience with Tick comics is pretty similar to yours Mike, except I found them a lot later. I bought one of the “Complete Edlund” editions a decade ago, intending to buy all the other collections later. But Karma Tornado really didn’t work for me, so I dropped the notion.

    I did pick up the late-2000s Benito Cereno/Les McClane “Tick New Series” book in back issues a few years ago, and liked that, but that’s the extent of it for me.

  • Snark Shark says:

    It seemed odd to me he didn’t make more of those!

    I never bothered with any of the spin-offs.

    Both those shows were good! i didn’t even know about the newer one.

    There is also a giant size TICK action figure out there, as well. it has a voice-feature so he can say his catch-phrases.

  • LouReedRichards says:

    I never read the comic, always meant to pick it up.
    To be as popular as it was, I don’t run across it often in the back issue bins – but it’s been quite a long time since I thought to look for it.

    The cartoon was good fun! My closest friend, who isn’t into comics or animation used to love it back in the day. It served as a rare chance to talk about superhero/comic related concepts with him.

    My wife and I LOVE the original live action TV series; we rewatch it every few years. We tried a couple of episodes of the newer TV show, but found it much darker in both tone and color palette than the goofy colorful one from the early 2000’s.

  • tomthedog says:

    The one spin-off worth checking out is CHAINSAW VIGILANTE, featuring I believe the very first comics work of the very excellent Zander Cannon.