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Cartoon Friday Watercooler: The Tick Vs. Chairface Chippendale


It’s Cartoon Friday, again!

Tonight we’ll laugh along with the second episode of The Tick, “The Tick Vs. Chairface Chippendale.”

The Tick began its life as a satirical comic book created in college by Ben Edlund. At a time when Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles had successfully transformed from a gritty, black and white independent comic to a mainstream animated marketing juggernaut, Edlund was able to convince Fox to take on his quirky hero. The Tick never came close to the massive commercial success of TMNT, but at the same time it transitioned to television without losing all of its edge. The Turtles became a kid-friendly toy-selling powerhouse, while this cartoon’s blue-suited lunk retained a humor that appealed to clever kids and adults alike. The show ran for three seasons and thirty-six episodes.

Here’s how Wikipedia sums up The Tick’s powers:

The Tick possesses superhuman strength and mass, which makes him capable of inflicting great damage on his surroundings if he is not careful. His full strength is never actually quantified, although he is at the very least capable of lifting whole cars with a single hand. Tick is also ‘nigh-invulnerable,’ which means it is almost impossible to injure him in any serious way. Because of this he can survive moments of extreme duress, and demonstrated this ability on numerous occasions; once by falling 4000 feet, crashing through the concrete into a subway tunnel and subsequently being hit by an oncoming train—and surviving all this without incident (‘Evil Sits Down for a Moment,’ November 4, 1995). While he cannot be injured, he is not necessarily immune to pain, or even temporary brain damage.

Finally, Tick possesses something referred to as ‘drama power,’ or basically a tendency for The Tick’s powers to increase as the situation becomes more dramatic. He can also survive in space without a suit, and under water without oxygen for at least a long time. Despite his nigh-invulnerability, he is still susceptible to injuries. One of his only weaknesses is that he cannot keep his balance if his antennae are removed.

Since every hero needs a catch phrase, The Tick — who isn’t very bright — selects “SPOON!” as his war cry. His trusty sidekick is Arthur, a lumpy and meek fellow in a moth suit. In season 1 (as with this episode) by Mickey Dolenz, lead singer of The Monkees. And speaking of the Turtles, Tick’s voice actior Townsend Coleman also voiced Michelangelo. In each episode, The Tick and Arthur were joined by an assortment of other wacky heroes from The City like American Maid and Die Fledermaus, a ridiculously big-eared rip off of Batman. This episode, the second in the series, also introduces the Tick’s chair-headed recurring arch-nemesis.

A close up of the Tick's grinning face in his blue jumpsuit and wiggly antennae

“I’m nigh-invulnerable!”

The show also became a short-lived but fondly remembered live action TV show; it’s available online for Hulu Plus customers. After The Tick, creator Ben Edlund became better known for his involvement with television and worked on Firefly under Joss Whedon before later becoming an executive producer and screenwriter on shows like Supernatural and Revolution.

If this show whets your appetite for more SPOON-y silliness, Matthew Catania picked The Tick’s 10 Best Episodes on Topless Robot.

Seen any good cartoons lately? What are you watching on TV these days?

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Image by Surian Soosay released under a Creative Commons license.

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Kit OConnell

Kit OConnell

Kit O’Connell is a gonzo journalist and radical troublemaker from Austin, Texas. He is the Associate Editor and Community Manager of Shadowproof. Kit's investigative journalism has appeared in Truthout, MintPress News and