"The Tick" Producers/Creator on Adapting the Property for Amazon

Photo: Jenevia Kagawa Darcy

The Tick creator Ben Edlund has been present and actively involved in the development of each new incarnation of the property, including an animated series in 1994 and another live-action series in 2001. He remains positive about this latest live-action adaptation which will air on Amazon.

"I am excited to have another incarnation. The Tick has a very interesting existence. It's been a thirty-year multi-dimensional presence that this thing's had. It's sort of beyond imagining that we're doing another live-action show with as much backing as we're getting from Amazon and as much reception as we've received from the fans, so I'm very excited."

Executive producer Barry Josephson offered some insight into why the series is well suited to a streaming platform such as Amazon. "One great thing is you can stream like a Marvel movie or a really excellent comedy because there's no commercials. I think it's great for streaming. Also, for Ben and David who create the show, it doesn't have the constraints of 'must be exactly this time' so as they have sort of like two movie releases, really, one movie that premieres in August and one movie that premieres later, you don't have to be wedded to exact times like you would if you had commercial breaks."

Despite the abundance of superhero properties being released both on film and television, The Tick is unique in many ways compared to the rest for aspects such as its half-hour episodes and there being a more deliberate and purposeful place in the genre of comedy. "This is a very different version of The Tick in that it's serialised," says producer David Fury. "We're able to tell a much larger story, one that has a greater scope, sometimes goes very cinematic. But more importantly, Amazon wants us to go big and to think big and to think out of the box. Networks generally go, 'Keep inside this box. If you go too outside, people won't watch.' Amazon says, 'Do everything that comes out of Ben's head.' That's what we essentially try to do. I think that again, with all the other superhero shows, we get to play in that universe, we get to have some of the weightier issues skewed a little bit, but more importantly we get to have a lot more fun."

"That is one of our licenses," adds Edlund. "Superhero genre, part of that has always been about wish fulfillment and there's a joyous quality to it. This new version resonates with the fabric of superheroes as [they stand] today, dark, gritty, taking things very seriously. That's where we come from, all of us, when we think of superheroes I think a little bit now, we're trying to make something pop in terms of its joyousness and even its optimism."

The Tick is also a series that doesn't shy away from a level of self-awareness that is used in developing the content. Episode 2 features a joke about a change in The Tick's costume from Episode 1 - as the pilot was filmed much earlier than the rest of the first six episodes. Josephson addressed this particular joke. "It was one of the great benefits of streaming on Amazon because we had an opportunity to air the pilot and [there was] a lot of fan feedback about the costume. They love the show and there were a lot of fans of The Tick who didn't love the costume and also we, the three of us, were not happy with the costume because we rushed at it, we came last minute. That was for the pilot, and so we thought we could do better and the fans thought we could do better so that's what you see changed in the second episode is he's morphed, which he has the ability to do, into a better costume."

"At this point, yes, there's definitely a production reason why we shifted from one costume to another costume," says Edlund. "But I maintain that that can happen in this story for reasons you won't understand for reasons. He's evolving. At one point, there's the monocle like Mr. Peanut!"

The discussion extends to other aspects of the costume, specifically the moving antennae of The Tick and Lars, the woman responsible for working their mechanic movements. Josephson discusses the diagram of emotions, a language of sorts developed by Lars, that translate what the different poses of The Tick's antennae mean. "Amazon asked her to do this, she did a chart of emotions. There were some t-shirts that were made at our activation in San Diego that had some of the emotions, happy, sad, excited, confused, and so and so. Lars actually has made a chart of those in terms of showing what The Tick is thinking at any given moment."

Bringing the series to San Diego Comic Con was a positive experience for the cast and crew. "It was really great," says Edlund. "We had had a little bit of foreshadowing of fan response by airing the pilot. That's something that a lot of people don't have. We felt fairly confident that the second episode at least kept the ball basically moving across the field. It was really amazing to see what Amazon had done in their marketing and in their support of this thing. It was very confusing to me because there's the giant corporate element there but also, the marketing campaign was based on helpfulness and a real joyful kind of connection with The Tick. The Tick teams were these people who were just handing out sunscreen, phone charging... that's a lot of very heroic service. Or like a bandaid when you have a blister, at this particular place, each one of those things is kind of a little life-saving event. Those ideas being integrated into something that ties itself to The Tick, I'm as happy about that as almost anything, just even as it relates to Comic Con. That gives us good graces there."

A superhero property such as The Tick means a tremendous amount of coordination with the stunt coordinators to ensure that what gets written in the scripts is something that can actually be done, as opposed to an animated series where anything defying human limitations can just be drawn. "We're all sort of technicians to a degree in that regard," says Edlund. "David and I are both directors and Barry is a long-time producer, hands-on, so we are the first tier of that."

"We try to push ourselves," says Fury. "One of the frustrating things for Ben, and I was a fan of the [original live-action] show, it wasn't really a superhero show. It was more of kind of a character comedy. It was very nice, it was great, and funny and everybody was terrific in it. But Ben wanted to do the superhero version of The Tick and that's what this is. But when you want to do the superhero version, there's gonna be superheroes. There's gonna be costumes that are really expensive. There's gonna be costumes that are really expensive. There's gonna be effects that are really expensive. So we try to be very canny about when we use that, when we really need to pull the rib chord and say, 'We need to go all out with this.' We want to deliver something that's great but also something as Ben often says, we always sort of skew it a little bit so it's not quite... we don't want people to think they're watching a Marvel show. We want to take what you would see in a Marvel show and-"

"-watching it from down the block!" Edlund chimes in.

"Those are the kind of things that are challenging but we don't censor ourselves," says Fury. "We try to push it. We let production censor us."

"That's part of it is the tension between what can be done, what should be done, and what can't be done," says Edlund.

"We had really talented people working with us this year from props to set design, CGI, and post," says Josephson. "It's such a good group that would be informed by Ben and David's outlines, and then the scripts. We'd talk back and forth creatively about how we would pull off all the things that the show asks."

The Tick will be available for streaming on Amazon on August 25.


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