Like his titular superhero, the tick just won’t die. Ben Edlund started drawing the character back when he worked in a comic book store in the mid-1980s, mainly making fun of superhero comics. And then the tick become a comic book. And an animated TV series. And a short-lived live-action series. Now, a new live-action series is about to start streaming on Amazon for a 10-episode season of Pure Madness.
If you like the pilot episode of the tick, that’s no surprise — it’s been out on Amazon for nearly a year and a half. It was part of Amazon Studio’s pilot program, where the company determines which pilots go to series based on popularity. the tickIts loyal fanbase turned it into a shoo-in, and it was picked up for a first season on a pretty hefty budget. At this year’s San Diego Comic-con, Amazon went out of its way to promote this latest version. Outside of the convention center was a huge “experience” where fans could see sets from the series after seeing Episode 2 for the first time during a packed panel.
Edlund is still at the helm and we had the chance to talk to him at Comic-con, along with Griffin Newman, who plays protagonist Arthur. It’s been nearly 30 years since Edlund created the super-strong blue man with antennae who spits out surreal aphorisms and shouts “SPOOOOOOON!” calls. as its slogan. But things in the comic book world have changed dramatically since then, especially after countless blockbuster movies and TV shows.
I asked Edlund how? the tick will satirize this new phase in the superhero industry (you can watch our interview in the video above and hear me make a super embarrassing mistake when talking about Arthur). He said the whole focus of the story had to shift. Superheroes used to be rare misfits or eccentrics like the Tick. But now everyone is a superhero – they are ubiquitous. Everyone has a right to be divine, perhaps because they’re guzzling information online or simply immersing themselves in Marvel movies. So Edlund decided to turn the point-of-view character in the new show into a regular person: Arthur, the Tick’s sidekick.
Newman added that Arthur is basically “unspecial”, but in some ways he is also special. First, he is mostly neurotic because of a terrifying incident in his childhood. He’s been in and out of mental health facilities, but manages to keep it together (mostly) until he meets a towering blue man who laughs at bullets and talks in genius non sequiturs about stopping bad guys. The series will focus on Arthur’s journey as he joins forces with the mysterious Tick. “the tick is almost the field in which Arthur takes place,” Edlund mused.
Edlund and Newman explained that the tone of the show will be humorous, but also dark. This is evident in the pilot, where the Tick’s goofiness is contrasted with Arthur’s fragile, depressed state. Arthur’s traumatic past has left him like some sort of Batman figure, alone with no strength or resources. Teaming up with the Tick means he finally gets a chance to seek justice, if the Tick is even real. At certain points in the pilot we wonder if the tick is a manifestation of Arthur’s mental illness. This too is part of the dark tone Edlund was aiming for.
“Being a superhero is now a dark, gritty, not very safe thing,” Edlund said. “Superheroes have a lot… bitter rivalry and smallness. These heroes are becoming more and more like us, and small, just super powerful.” Newman nodded meaningfully. “They don’t save anyone.”
You can watch the pilot now on Amazon and the season in its entirety will begin streaming on August 25.