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The Tick (comics)

The Tick comic book series was created by Ben Edlund in 1988 and originally published in black & white by the New England Comics store in Boston, Massachusetts. The series provided modest beginnings for its title character who would later feature in his own television programs and merchandise. A plot was never completed for the comic series.

Issue 1

Special edition released March 1988. First edition released June 1988.

Ben Edlund, Writer & Artist; Bob Polio, Art Director; George Suarez, Editor & Publisher.

Characters

The Tick

Secondary characters: Ninjas, Shing, Various City dwellers, Clark Oppenheimer

Plot

The Tick is in a padded room, confined by a straitjacket. He is bored and decides he will "leave this place." He ends up in the city on patrol against crime. During his patrol he accidentally encounters a group of ninjas interrogating Shing. The Tick, not realizing that he has encountered a crime in progress, leaves to fight crime, with ninjas, hotly, but artlessly, in pursuit. The Tick ends up in a coffee shop demonstrating to a citizen that he is a Tick by demonstrating his sucking ability through a straw. After losing consciousness, the Tick awakes in a subway tunnel, not realizing where he is. Clark Oppenheimer on a nearby train platform sees the Tick in the tunnel and springs into action to save the doomed citizen. The Tick resists being saved, thinking he is in the belly of a whale and Clark an enlarged enzyme, resulting in the two of them being struck by a train. After being disgorged from the tunnel, somewhat worse for wear, Clark runs off to his job at a local newspaper.

Trivia

Clark Oppenheimer is a subtle but noticeable parody of Superman.

While Arthur is not a character in this issue, he does make an appearance. On page 13, panel 3, Arthur can be seen flying in the background. He appears in the background of several other pages of this issue.

The full story of the Tick's escape from the asylum is revealed in The Tick: Luny Bin series.

The first panel of page 17 is a recreation of the Edward Hopper painting, Nighthawks. This painting appears many times in Tick comics and in the animated series.

Second edition released March 1989 with four extra pages of the Tick. Appearances from the NEC Newsletter. Third edition released Jun 1989. Fourth edition released December 1989. Fifth edition released April 1991. Sixth edition released January 1995. Seventh edition released April 1996. A Special Edition Reprise, with the same cover as the Special Edition with a second cover wrap and serially numbered 5001-14000, released April 1996. Eighth, 10th anniversary edition, released August 1996. Ninth edition, released March 1998.

Next issue: Hi-Rise Hi-Jinx.

Issue 2

"High Rise Hijinx"

Special edition released June 1988. First edition released September 1988.

Ben Edlund, Writer & Penciller; Max Banks, Inker; Bob Polio, Art Director; George Suarez, Editor & Publisher.

Characters

The Tick (Mr. Nedd); Clark Oppenheimer (Caped Wonder, Ka-Ro)

Secondary characters: Perry Beige, Editor-in-Chief, Weekly World Planet; Billy; Ban-Al (Clark's Father);

Plot

Clark Oppenheimer reports, late, for his job at the newspaper. Meanwhile the Tick dons a tie and purse as a secret identity, Mr. Nedd. The Tick obtains a job as a crossword editor at the Weekly World Planet. While snooping in Clark's desk, he inadvertently reveals a message from Clark's father and builds his "fortress of fortitude." Clark takes the Tick aside and explains that he is the protector of the City, which the Tick disputes. The Tick is fired from the newspaper. On his way out, he leaves a gift for Clark by molding his car into an oversized ashtray. Clark, understandably upset by this development, attacks the Tick who defeats Clark by breaking his disguise (his glasses).

Trivia

The parallels between Clark Oppenheimer and Superman continue, when the Tick inadvertently unleashes a message from Clark's father, Ban-Al, and identifies him as Marlon Brando, who played Jor-El in the 1978 Superman movie.

The 1st edition of The Tick 2 was released with a die-cut cover: a small square window revealing the Tick from the first page. A mistake in the production resulted in a rare number of issues (less than 200) without the diecut being released.

Second edition released March 1989. Third edition released June 1989. Fourth edition released December 1989. Fifth edition released July 1991. Sixth edition released January 1995. Special Edition Reprise with same cover as the Special Edition with a second wrap cover and serially numbered 3001-8000, July 1996. Seventh, 10th anniversary edition, released August 1996. Eighth edition released March 1998.

Next issue: Night of a Million-Zillion Ninjas!

Issue 3

"Night of a Million-Zillion Ninja"

Released December 1988

Ben Edlund, Writer & Penciller; Max Banks, Inker; Bob Polio, Art Director; George Suarez, Editor & Publisher

Characters

The Tick, Oedipus Ashley Stevens

Secondary characters: Henry (a ninja), Jerry (a ninja), other ninjas, the District Manager, Reginald Stevens (Oedipus's father), Amanda Stevens Oedipus's stepmother, Shing, Consuela and Angus (hired help)

Plot

A young ninja woman, Oedipus, is pursued by other ninjas who desire to recover, from her, the Thorn of Oblivion. Seeking to escape them, she climbs to the top of a building where she encounter the Tick. He easily defeats the ninjas pursuing her and Oedipus demands of one of the defeated, without success, the whereabouts of Shing. The remaining ninjas retreat to the headquarters of the District Manager with the news of this encounter and he orders them to surround Oedipus's house which they do, disguised as a hedge. While trying to sneak into her house, Oedipus is nearly captured by the ninjas, but is saved by the Tick only to find that they are now trapped in the house. Oedipus relates her ninja background: how Shing, the leader of ninjas in America was ousted by the District Manager who made the ninjas into a tourist attraction. Shing recruited and trained Oedipus to infiltrate the ninjas and steal the Thorn of Oblivion, the source of the ninjas power. Oedipus decides that she and the Tick should disguise themselves as guests at the party being thrown by her stepmother that night and thus, escape.

Trivia

This issue included a special "Ninja World" insert.

Arthur appears again in a background scene in this issue: page 15, panel 5.

The character of Oedipus is a parody of Elektra Natchios, the popular ninja assassin from Marvel Comics Daredevil series. The costume worn by Oedipus is basically a yellow version of Elektra's classic red costume, and, like Elektra, Oedipus carries the sai as her primary weapon. While Elektra is of Greek descent and has dark hair, Oedipus appears to be caucasian and has brown hair. Also, when The Tick is inquiring about her name, one of his guesses is "Elektra?" In Freudian psychology, the Oedipus and Elektra complexes are used to describe incestuous longings for a parent in boys/girls and girls, respectively.

Second edition released November 1989. Third edition released April 1990. Fourth edition released July 1991. Fifth edition released August 1993. Sixth edition released January 1995. Seventh, 10th anniversary edition, released August 1996. Eighth edition released March 1998.

Next issue: "A Big Fight!"

Issue 4

"A Big Fight"

Released April 1989

Ben Edlund, Writer & Penciller; Max Banks, Inker; Bob Polio, Art Director; George Suarez, Editor & Publisher

Characters

The Tick, Oedipus

Secondary Characters: Amanda Stevens, the District Manager, Earl (a ninja), other ninjas, Sagin, Arthur, Paul the Samurai, Shing

Plot

Oedipus and The Tick, dressed in a tuxedo, proceed to Amanda Steven's party, but the Tick is completely intimidated by Amanda and passes out. Meanwhile the ninjas finally get orders from the District Manager to attack the house and the District Manager gets a call from Sagin, the worldwide leader of ninjas in Japan, that he will be visiting to inspect the American operation. Ninja enemy, Paul the Samurai, tapping into the phone lines, becomes aware of Sagin's travel plans. The Tick fends off the initial ninja attack while Oedipus stashes the Thorn of Oblivion in the trunk of a car parked outside the house, but is then stabbed by one of the attacking ninjas (Earl). The Tick vanquishes the ninjas and starts off for help with Oedipus in his arms, but soon relinquishes her to a passing ambulance. Arthur appears and retrieves the Thorn from the trunk of the car. Meanwhile, Sagin and Paul the Samurai make their way to the City and the Tick, despondent over his inability to protect Oedipus, decides to and does destroy Ninja World. While about this task, he encounters Shing, who he is inclined to kill as responsible for Oedipus's injury, but Arthur shows up to inform the Tick that "Superheroes never kill....ever." Arthur reveals that he has been following the Tick and gives the Thorn to him. Shing demands that it be destroyed, but the Tick runs off with it as Sagin and the District manger arrive. Meanwhile, Paul follows the Tick to the hospital.

Trivia

This issue included a special poster insert.

Second edition released December 1989. Third edition released with special "scarce red" test cover, June 1991. Fourth edition released with 5th anniversary ad on inside cover and 500 printings, October 1991. Fifth edition released March 1992. Sixth edition released January 1995. Seventh, 10th anniversary edition, released August 1996. Eighth edition released March 1998.

Next issue: "Early Morning of a Million Zillion Ninjas, the Final End to All This Ninja Foolishness" (as a headline in the Weekly World Planet).

Issue 5

"Early Morning of a Million Zillion Ninjas"

Released August 1989

Ben Edlund, Writer; Max Banks, Artist; Bob Polio, Art Director; George Suarez, Editor & Publisher

Characters

The Tick

Secondary Characters: the District Manager, Sagin, Ninjas, Oedipus, Amanda Stevens, Reginald Stevens, Paul the Samurai, Arthur

Plot

The District Manager, his ninjas and Sagin view the ruins of Ninja land. The District Manager is distraught, but Sagin declares that if the Tick hadn't destroyed it he would have. He vows to retrieve the Thorn of Oblivion himself. The Tick watches over Oedipus in her hospital room when her father and stepmother arrive and the resulting encounter ends with Amanda leaving Reginald. Just then, Paul the Samurai shows up, seeking the Tick, and Arthur arrives. The three heroes meet on the roof to discuss their plans. Sagin shows up in Oedipus's room and brings her to the roof, threatening to shoot her unless the Tick gives him the Thorn of Oblivion. The Tick calls his bluff by threatening to drop the Thorn from the roof unless he releases Oedipus. But the Tick accidentally fumbles the Thorn and it does plummet to the ground, with Sagin, in a last ditch attempt to save it, plummeting after. Neither survive. After, Paul decides to stay in the City and start a detective agency, while the Tick and Arthur decide that Arthur will become the Tick's sidekick.

Trivia

This issue contained an "emergency filler insert" drawn by Ben Edlund.

Second edition released March 1992. Third edition released January 1995. Fourth, 10th anniversary edition released August 1996. Fifth edition released February 1998.

Next Issue: "Villains, Inc."

Issue 6

"Villains, Inc."

Released November 1989

Ben Edlund, Writer & Penciller; Dave Garcia, Inker; Bob Polio, Art Director; George Suarez, Editor & Publisher

Characters

The Running Guy (Jeff), The Tick, Arthur, the Red Scare

Secondary Characters: Morton Spivey, Gary, Sally Vacuum, Jack

Plot

Villains, Inc. is an outfit that sets up superheroes against fake supervillains in order to give the heroes more exposure, complete with prearranged news coverage. The Running Guy signs a contract with the president of Villains, Inc., Morton Spivey, to fight--and defeat-- supervillain, the Red Scare. Meanwhile, Arthur invites the Tick to stay at his apartment, which he thinks is a secret headquarters, destroying much of Arthur's possessions. Later, on the way home from a bar, the Tick and Arthur encounter the Red Scare. The Tick, overjoyed to encounter a supervillain, engages him. Meanwhile, the Running Guy, arriving with his news crew, is outraged to find the Tick fighting his reserved villain. A pre-determined time limit passes, and the Red Scare falls to the ground declaring that he has been beaten by the mighty Running Guy. The Tick and Arthur walk off decrying the pathetic spectacle they have witnessed.

Trivia

Second edition released August 1991. Third edition released March 1992. Fourth edition released September 1995. Fifth, 10th anniversary edition released August 1996. Sixth edition released February 1998.

Next Issue: "Spoon!"

Issue 7

Released February 1990

Ben Edlund, Writer & Penciller; Dave Garcia, Inker; Bob Polio, Art Director; George Suarez, Editor & Publisher

Characters

Angus MacGuire, The Tick, Arthur, Chairface Chippendale

Secondary Characters: Boris Saint-Vladmirovich, Pineapple Pokopo, Professor Chromedome, the Forehead, the-Guy-That-Looks-Just-Like-Peter-Lorre, Zipperneck, the Crease, Harriet Curse, Eyebrows Smith, Boils Brown, Mr. Planters, Devon Ugly, the Cleft, Man-Eating Cow

Plot

Angus MacGuire, a private detective, is following Boris Saint Vladmirovich, knowing he is involved in something involving a major crime figure, although Angus is unsure of the details. Meanwhile the Tick and Arthur are eating dinner, and the Tick decides that his battle cry will be "Spoon!". He also decides that dinner needs PEZ, which he leaves to obtain. He and Angus end up in the same store, where Angus, recognizing the Tick as a powerful ally, deputizes him. The Tick and Angus, dressed as waiters, infiltrate a cocktail party of villains where Angus learns that the true villain he has been following is Chairface Chippendale. Their cover is soon blown and they are captured by Chairface, who reveals his plan to write his name on the moon with a giant laser. He lowers the Tick and Angus into a pit of man-eating alligators and cows where they discover that the alligators have eaten all of the cows, except one. Chairface manages to write a "Cha" on the moon before the Tick and Angus, after their escape, show up to apprehend him and his henchmen.

Trivia

The animated series episode, The Tick vs. Chairface Chippendale was based on this issue.

Angus MacGuire is a Dick Tracy parody (and has his own version of the two-way wrist radio). By extension, the villains are likely following the concept of Tracy having grotesque villains.

Flaming Carrot is shown in the villain crowd on the second page.

Among the characters Chairface invites include a villain based on Boris Badenov, a villain based on Mr. Peanut, and a villain based on Mac Tonight.

Pineapple Pokopo appears in the story. Although he doesn't play a role in the animated series adaptation of this story, he had an entire episode devoted to him ("The Tick vs. Pineapple Pokopo").

Second edition released November 1991. Third edition released September 1995. Fourth, 10th anniversary edition released August 1996. Fifth edition released February 1998.

Next Issue: "A Matter of Cosmic Import and Other Stories"

Issue 8

"a matter of cosmic import....and other stories....."

Released July 1990

Ben Edlund, Writer & Penciller; Dave Garcia, Inker; Bob Polio, Art Director; George Suarez, Editor & Publisher

Characters

Man-Eating Cow, The Tick, Arthur, Chairface Chippendale

Secondary Characters: Dot, Triggermen, Ed Robelord, Sgt Conniff, the Sultan, the Cape, the Visible Man, Ulysses Bang, King Crime, the Red Eye, various City dwellers

Plot

After Chairface Chippendale's defeat, the Man-Eating Cow roams the city. Meanwhile the Tick returns to Arthur's apartment and takes him to the roof to show him what has happened to the Moon. While there, the Tick is struck in the head by a meteor. They take the meteor to a scientist friend of Arthur's who reveals that the rock came from Utah. That night Arthur's sister, Dot, arrives to cook dinner for the two of them. During dinner, the Tick is shot at by two Triggermen, henchmen of Chairface, from an apartment across the street. During their battle they are defeated by the Man-Eating Cow, who eats them; an incident that Arthur witnesses, but which Dot cannot believe. She counsels Arthur to seek professional help, but he reveals that he and the Tick are leaving for New York City. The Tick recognizes the Man-Eating Cow as a kindred spirit and leaves her in charge of protecting the City in his absence.

Trivia

This issue was published with a special insert, Red Eye, a mini-comic about a hitch-hiker who spreads death wherever he goes. On page 13, the Tick finds a free copy of this same comic blowing down the street and later, reads it in Arthur's apartment.

Second edition released March 1992. Third edition released September 1995. Fourth, 10th anniversary edition August 1996. Fifth edition released February 1998.

Next Issue: "Road Trip!"

Issue 9

"Road Trip"

Released March 1991

Ben Edlund, Writer & Penciller; Dave Garcia, Inker & Panelist; Bob Polio, Letterer & Multiplexer; George Suarez, Editor & Enabler; Larry Boyd, Assistant Editor & Scribe

Characters

The Tick, Arthur

Secondary Characters: members of the Mystic Order of Archnid Vigilance, Chainsaw Vigilante, Radio Man, Oddman, Mr. Envelope, Feral Boy

Plot

The Tick and Arthur are readying to leave for New York City when they encounter the Mystic Order of Arachnid Vigilance, a group of mental patients who escaped from the Evanston Asylum when the Tick provided an exit during his escape. The order promises to flourish in their icon's absence. The two superheroes then proceed to get lost trying to find the road to New York. Meanwhile, the Civic-Minded Five are in a battle with the Chainsaw Vigilante, who is dedicated to vanquishing superheroes, who he believes are dangerous meddlers. He easily vanquishes them and then confronts Arthur at a local gas station.

Trivia

A short throwaway comic appears at the beginning of this issue where the Tick is alarmed by a dream wherein he had disappeared for eight months, an allusion to the fact that the Tick comics were being published on a very irregular basis. There are also letters from Ben Edlund and George Suarez apologizing for the lateness of the issue.

When encountering the members of the Mystic Order of Arachnid Vigilance, the Tick mentions that membership "would be worth any price! Even Ten Bucks!" New England Comics offers readers membership in the M.O.A.V. including various membership apparatus, for $10.00.

Second edition released September 1995. Third, 10th anniversary edition released August 1996. Fourth edition released January 1998.

Next Issue: "Some obstacles and a partial resolution"

Issue 10

"Some Obstacles and a Partial Resolution"

Released October 1991

Ben Edlund, Writer & Penciller; Dave Garcia, Inker; Bob Polio, Letterer & Production; George Suarez, Editor; Larry Boyd, Assistant Editor & Proofer

Characters

The Tick, Arthur, Chainsaw Vigilante

Secondary Characters: Ricardo, Anne, Red Eye, Jacob, Chet, other residents of Monolith, Kentucky

Plot

Arthur is attacked by the Chainsaw Vigilante but is saved by the Tick, who proves immune to chainsaw attacks and proceeds to vanquish the Vigilante by throwing him through their car's windshield. Later, in their hotel room, the Tick is awakened by Ricardo, an inhabitant of the planet Belfadore 38 who now resides on the meteor that struck the Tick, and who demands an assortment of cheeses or condiments. After dining the Tick and Arthur are back on the road. The Tick sleeps while Arthur picks up a hitchhiker: the Red Eye. The Tick is apprehensive, but they manage to make it to the next town, Monolith, Kentucky, without losing their lives. Needing gas, but with none to be found, they are invited to a local resident's house. The residents, Jacob and his wife, attempt to drug the two (successfully in Arthur's case). Then they show the Tick their town's mysterious monolith and particle accelerator and reveal that they want to perform experiments on the two travelers. They manage to subdue the Tick and start to perform the experiments on him. His nigh-invulnerability causes the experiments to fail and results in the destruction of the monolith which breaks the spell on the two superheroes.

Trivia

The Monolith in this issue is very reminiscent of the one from 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Second edition released April 1996. Third, 10th anniversary edition released August 1996. Fourth edition released January 1998.

Next Issue: "Two Strange, Warm Men and the City of Their Dreams."

Issue 11

"Two Strange Warm Men and the City of Their Dreams"

Released August 1992

Ben Edlund, Writer & Penciller; Jeff Whiting, Inker; Bob Polio, Art Director; George Suarez, Editor & Publisher

Characters

The Tick, Arthur, Chairface Chippendale Secondary Characters: Barry Hubris (the Tick), Thrakkorzog, Mighty Agrippa: Roman God of the Aqueduct, Laverne, Deviled Man, Bouncer, Four-Legged Man, Hand Grenade Man, Six-Gun, the Ant, Fishboy: Prince of Atlantis, El Flamingo, Blind Devil, Skateboard Viking, Atom Boy, Johnny, Johnny, Johnny, Hector, lots of superheroes and sidekicks

Plot

The Tick and Arthur finally arrive in New York City where they encounter a glut of superheroes. After watching the Might Agrippa defeat Thrakkorzog, they are invited to the Comet Club, a hangout for superheroes. The Tick meets many superheroes in the club while Arthur meets many sidekicks in the Sidekick Lounge--where he is forced to stay--many named Johnny. The Tick is confronted by Barry Hubris, who also calls himself the Tick. They fight over the name and the Tick (the blue one) prevails.

Trivia

The animated episode, The Tick vs. The Tick is based on this issue.

Second edition released September 1995. Third, 10th anniversary edition released August 1996. Fourth edition released January 1998.

Next Issue: "One Man's Treasure is Also Another Man's Treasure."

Issue 12

"One Man's Treasure......is Also Another Man's Treasure"

Released May 1993

Ben Edlund, Writer & Penciller; Jeff Whiting, Inker; Bob Polio, Letterer; Richard Edlund, Cover Colorist; George Suarez, Editor

Characters

The Tick, Arthur, Barry Hubris

Secondary Characters: Tri-State Superhero Congress, The Terror, Multiple Santa, Fuzzy Person, Tuun-La: Not of This World, Mr. Tragedy, Host

Plot

Barry returns to his castle, upset that the Tick has usurped his name. Meanwhile, the Tri-State Superhero Congress has decreed that since the Tick defeated Barry, he stands to inherit all of Barry's superhero paraphernalia. Barry accedes to the Congress's wishes, allowing the Tick and Arthur to move into his castle, but the loss drives him over the edge and he refuses to wear clothes. Barry devises a plan to get his stuff back by contacting his arch-enemies, the Evileers, led by the Terror and goads them to attack the Tick.

Trivia

This is the last issue that Ben Edlund was directly involved in. After this, he left to oversee the animated version of the Tick.

Four different variant covers were released with this issue. Each came with a no-logo front cover with a gold foil Tick emblem. The back covers came with four limited variations: Rockets On (1000 copies), released at Capital City Sales Conference in Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Dinnertime (1000 copies), released at the Diamond Tenth Seminar in Atlanta, Georgia; Frrd! (1000 copies), released Summer, 1993; Tick Society Coat of Arms (2000 copies).

Second edition released September 1995. Third, 10th anniversary edition released August 1996. Fourth edition released January 1998.

Next Issue: "Tora! Tora Tora!"

Chroma-Tick

Chroma-Tick were re-released editions of the first nine issues of The Tick in full color. Their release dates are as follows:

  • Chroma-Tick 1, Special edition, February 1992
  • Chroma-Tick 2, Special edition, June 1992
  • Chroma-Tick 3, August 1992
  • Chroma-Tick 4, October 1992
  • Chroma-Tick 5, October 1993
  • Chroma-Tick 6, June 1993
  • Chroma-Tick 7, September 1993
  • Chroma-Tick 8, November 1993 
  • Chroma-Tick 9, January 1994

Trade Paperbacks

The Tick comics have been collected in several trade paperbacks starting in 1990 with The Tick Omnibus. The Tick Omnibus 1 collects issues 1-6. Number 2 collects issues 7-10. Number 3 collects issues 11-12. Many of these include bonuses that were not present in the original issues such as trading cards, posters and early Ben Edlund artwork.

  • Tick Omnibus 1, Limited edition, August 1990 (limited to 3000 copies)
  • Tick Omnibus 1, 1st edition, August 1990

Second edition released March 1992. Third edition released August 1993. Fourth edition released November 1994. Fifth edition released May 1995. Sixth edition released June 1997. Seventh edition released May 1999.

  • Tick Omnibus 2, 1st edition, June 1992

Second edition released January 1994. Third edition released February 1995. Fourth edition released October 1995. Fifth edition released November 1996. Sixth edition released January 1997.

  • Tick Omnibus 3, 1st edition, April 1996.

Second edition released November 1997.

Issues of The Tick Bonanza were all published in August 1999. Number 1 collects issues 1-3; number 2, issues 4-6; number 3, issues 7-9; number 4, issues 10-12

In June 1996, the first six issues of Chroma-Tick were collected in a trade paperback entitled The Naked City. A second edition of The Naked City was issued in May 1998.

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