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The Tick is a fictional character created by cartoonist Ben Edlund in 1986 as a newsletter mascot for the New England Comics chain of Boston area comic stores. He is an absurdist spoof of comic book superhero. After its creation, the character spun off into an independent comic book series in 1988, and gained mainstream popularity through an animated TV series on Fox Broadcasting in 1994. A short-lived live-action TV series, video game, and various merchandise have also been based on the character. The Tick was named the 28th greatest comic book character by Empire Magazine.
In 1986, 18-year-old cartoonist Ben Edlund created The Tick as a mascot for a newsletter of the Brockton, Massachusetts, store New England Comics, where he was a customer. Edlund expanded this into stories, beginning with the three-page tale "The Tick" in New England Comics Newsletter #14-15 (July/August – September/October 1986), in which the hero escapes from a mental institution. The character became popular and the store financed a black-and-white comic book series, with the first issue released in June, 1988, and subsequently reprinted at least nine times through the next decade, including later editions with additional content. The Tick's sidekick, Arthur, was introduced in The Tick #4 (April 1989).
In 1994, the FOX network introduced The Tick as a Saturday morning cartoon series, which Edlund wrote and co-produced. Lasting three seasons, the animated series would provide The Tick's greatest mainstream fame. Townsend Coleman voiced the title character, and Micky Dolenz played his sidekick, Arthur, in Season 1. Rob Paulsen took over the Arthur role during Seasons 2 and 3. The series also featured Die Fledermaus as a shallow, self-absorbed Batman parody; Sewer Urchin, a Rain Man-like version of Aquaman; and American Maid, a more noble superheroine featuring aspects of Wonder Woman and Captain America. Reruns on Comedy Central helped make the series a cult hit with adults. The 1997 book The Tick: Mighty Blue Justice! by Greg Hyland (creator of Lethargic Lad) was published as a tie-in with the animated series.
In 2001, FOX introduced a live-action TV series (produced by Columbia-TriStar Television), written and executive produced by Edlund. The series starred Patrick Warburton as The Tick, David Burke as Arthur, Nestor Carbonell as Batmanuel (a Latino version of Die Fledermaus), and Liz Vassey as Captain Liberty (a version of American Maid). The series was short-lived, however, and it only lasted nine episodes. Nevertheless, it was well praised and revered by cast and crew. A DVD release of the complete series was released on September 30, 2003.
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