Comic Book: The Tick

In 1986, 18-year-old cartoonist Ben Edlund created The Tick as a mascot for a newsletter of the Norwood, Massachusetts store New England Comics. Edlund expanded this into stories, beginning with the three-page Origin Story The Tick in New England Comics Newsletter #1415 (July/August September/October 1986), in which the eccentric hero escaped from a mental institution.

In June 1988, it was released in an independent, recurring black-and-white comic series. Arthur was introduced in The Tick #4 (April 1989). It transitioned to colour in 2001.

The comic became popular enough to spin off two TV series, one animated and one live-action.


The comic series provides examples of the following:

  • Bad Santa: Multiple Santa, an evil Mall Santa who can clone himself.
  • Chainsaw Good: The Chainsaw Vigilante, a chainsaw-wielding vigilante who views the heroes as self-interested meddlers. He cuts off their clothes with his chainsaw to humiliate them into quitting, but has never actually killed anyone; he's just that good. Wears a yellow smiley face mask. At worst he's an Anti-Villain.
  • City of Adventure: The City, though it's rather boring for superheroes, or at least before Tick arrives. New York, however, is full of superheroes.
  • Cyanide Pill: A spy once reveals he has a tooth filled with poison, only he can't remember which one.
    I try to avoid crunchy foods.
  • Deface of the Moon: Chairface tries to carve his name into the moon, but only manages "CHA" before he's stopped. Later, just to tweak his ego, this is blamed on Charo.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: While properly introduced in the fourth issue, Arthur can be seen flying in background shots in the first three books.
  • Highly-Visible Ninja: In one issue, several ninja hold leaves and call themselves a hedge. Provides the page image. Also Oedipus, who wears a yellow costume.
  • Identity Amnesia: The Tick doesn't remember anything about his life before becoming The Tick. This may be from frequent head trauma, or he may be legally insane.
  • Limited Wardrobe: The Tick and Arthur (most superheroes and villains in general, actually) are never seen without their costumes.
    • This is referenced in the Free Comic Book Day story Ghosts Of Sidekicks Past where Arthur mentions that he does change clothes fairly often. We just never see it.
  • Mad Artist: The Impressionist. His roommate calls him crazy for eating a plain omelet.
    Inpressionist: "I am not crazy! I am an artist! Was Michelangelo crazy? Was Renoir crazy? Was Van Gogh crazy? OK, bad example, but still.."
  • Mysterious Past: The Tick. Before The Tick's Loony Bin, all that was known was his escape from Evanston Asylum. Loony Bin revealed he was married, but separated, though nothing more is currently known.
  • We Will Not Have Pockets in the Future: Parodied. The Tick is amazed to find his costume has them, even overlooking the wad of cash he found in them.