After many years of absence from the mainstream popular culture, The Tick is back and better than ever! This year saw the launch of a brand new pilot episode for a live action series based on ‘The Tick’ through Amazon’s ‘Pilot Season’! After it’s arrival the pilot episode was so well received that Amazon has given the series a full season order! This new live action ‘The Tick’ series is set to star actor Peter Serafinowicz in the titular role, with a supporting cast that includes Griffin Newman (HBO’s ‘Vinyl’) and Jackie Earle Haley (‘The Watchmen’)! Recently at New York Comic Con 2016, we were able to sit down with ‘The Tick’ creator Ben Edlund and series producer Barry Josephson to discuss bringing ‘The Tick’ back to life and what people can expect from the show!
How is it to bring the tick back to live action after fifteen years?
Ben Edlund: It was crazy to think that this was going to happen! It was your fault! (to Barry)
Barry Josephson: Yeah I begged him to come back…
BE: Yeah, he was like “should we do this?” and I was like “well, no…” but yes, we did and it was great! Amazon was exactly the right place to find a home at! When we were first talking about it being live action, I actually went to Sony to convince them not to do it! And as I was describing it again and again, how weird it would be, how odd and tonally just off base it would be… you don’t know how you would have to push around the normal equations of comedy adventure to make this work! To make you care and make you throw it out almost every other moment, because everything in it was crazy! Well, not everything, but most things! So it’s really really amazing that we get the chance.
Did you feel any pressure to bring it about from a more traditional standpoint, or to incorporate more of the new age media like Twitter and things into the show?
BE: It will be more contemporary. The prior live action show was sort of in this intentionally timeless zone where you can make an allegory to something like ‘Gotham’, where you live in the world but it doesn’t have something like laptops. There’s no laptops in ‘Gotham’! Website fraud is not a big deal for Batman. He’s doing other stuff! For us, I want this to be a very believable universe in those details. Like right now, we had the pilot to kind of get things going. To me it means something that Arthur does a computer search, and not finding The Tick in the internet means he sort of doesn’t exist. That is using really contemporary forces, and we’re going to use more of it becuase I want to see what this is!
BJ: I for one, want to see what The Tick buys on Amazon for the first time. Would it be gloves? What does he need?
BE: It’d be those gloves where the fingertips light up and change colors. Those are good!
As fans of the classic ‘The Tick’ cartoon, you’ve got a brand new generation who has never experienced The Tick before, what was your thought process in bringing them in?
BJ: I think for Ben it was the opposite! I mean you look at the pilot and it’s basically an origin story, you don’t know much about The Tick and you start to learn a little bit about Arthur. Enough to take you into that pilot episode and make it it’s own thing. So whether you’ve ever seen anything from ‘The Tick’ before or not, I think the pilot allows you to start the journey.
BE: That’s true! It’s intended to bring in as many fans as possible, so that they can go and explore! This is really an attempt to make a freestanding version that doesn’t really live or die on the history of it. It was always a weird thing to bring out anyway because he’s called ‘The Tick’ and he’s not the right color and he hangs out and sleeps on the couch! It’s always been nuts, so it’s just going to be nuts again.
How much creative freedom does Amazon give you to explore new territory with this thing?
BE: They have been almost ruthlessly demanding that I have creative freedom where they were very much “we are not trying to make television like television was before, this is your chance to blow open the format and think in terms of a new kind of entertainment model”!
BJ: They’ve been very supportive! There was never a time when Ben pitched a complete linear multi-act version of what this pilot was going to be. He talked about a lot of ideas that he wanted to achieve in the series, and many networks sort of turn off to that. They want something very linear, and I think what was great about Sony and Amazon is that when they heard Ben talk about the show and what he wanted to achieve in the season, that was what got them excited! It wasn’t about the demand to deliver a linear story, it was that these are all the different things that he had in his head and they all came out on the table and it was literally two meetings before they said “okay, write that pilot”! Which I think was a risky thing, but it was exciting! Now I think they know so much more post-pilot about what the series is, but they have been supportive to a fault!
Can we expect to see many of The Tick’s contemporary’s like Batmanuel or American Maid show up ?
BE: Every time we made a version of this, those characters arrive because there is a need to have a ‘Batman’ character. Batmanuel is a great dividing line into the theory of the show, because that pun is too ridiculous for our world, without a layer of comment. For example, the way I have kind of been metabolizing Batmanuel is that you could kind of imagine a guy who was a billionaire who was surrounded by people who just said “yes” to him all the time, and he one day decided that “I want to be a hero”! So he starts to cultivate this thing, and he’s a South American billionaire and his name is Manuel and he thinks ‘Batmaneul’ is the best idea, and all his ‘yes people’ just say “yeah that’s great!”, so he doesn’t know he has come up with the dumbest idea for a name. So it’s a way of treating these things that allow them to live in this universe. Each one has to be translated.
Just how goofy are you going to take the direction of this show? In previous versions we have gotten to the point where it’s kind of ridiculous, like in the cartoon we got to ‘Man-Eating-Cow’, so just how far across that line are you going to push this?
BE: Far! But I think that it’s going to be very different. It’s a slightly different tone. It’s dryer, to a degree, and that’s the essence to it. So Man-Eating-Cow… we could totally get away with a Man-Eating-Cow. But it’d be something where you never see it eat a man, but you would treat it almost more like a ‘Moby Dick’ type plot device. I think that you could create something almost like The Stag icon from ‘Hannibal’ or something. Because that’s a terrifying figure! Like if you were to eaten by a cow, that’s a slow and painful process! They don’t have the right teeth for it!
How did you arrive on Peter for the lead role?
BE: It was hard! It was a big long process.
BJ: It was! We didn’t know who would play The Tick honestly! We had a lot of actors out there. And frankly, I had seen Peter, and what is incredible, is that Peter is known for his comedy but I had seen him in this crazed drama and only knew him as a tough character, so when we got to see the breadth of all his comedy it was like “oh my god this guy is fantastic! It was like two-and-two makes four! He’s going to crush it!
‘The Tick’ pilot episode is available for streaming now on Amazon Prime, while the full first season of the series should be hitting the streaming service sometime next year! Be sure to stay tuned to ScienceFiction.com for all of the latest updates for ‘The Tick’!
Jordan is a Toy Columnist & Staff Writer here at ScienceFiction! Journalist, Musician, Toy Collector, and Overall Awesome Guy! For more on Jordan’s thoughts, toys, and wacky adventures, be sure to follow him on Twitter and Instagram.