My God! I've got pockets!
Let us now bemoan the fate of lost pop culture, slipping through our collective fingers, rolled across our national landscape, and dropped into the national sewer. Rappin', Rockin' Barbie is inexplicably entwined with Rubik's Cube. Pink Lady and Jeff sinks along with The Associates. Within this swirling mass of mediocrity, we find the Tick, bubbling to the surface and crawling back into our national consciousness like some... bubbling... crawling... thing.
Long before The Invincibles, the comics industry made fun of its own. Plastic Man and Captain Marvel were originally as much satire as heroic. The Tick appeared during the late-'80s independent comics boom, created by Ben Edlund. Hollywood was scouring the comics' field for the next Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and discovered Edlund's semi-annual series.
Instead, Edlund and company produced a Saturday morning cartoon that was just a little too off-kilter (Mickey Dolenz, Bobcat Goldthwait, Laraine Newman, and Jim Belushi all contributed their voices). It did last for three seasons, but nobody bought the tchotchkes. Edlund handed off the comic book to friends as he pursued a career in Hollywood. Later, he launched the live-action Tick series. Unfortunately, other parties owned the cartoon show and fought the use of any of the original storylines or characters. The magic was gone like a fallen cake.
Today, Edlund works in television. The Tick live action series is available on DVD. The original, hilarious comics have been collected in The Tick Bonanza 1-4. For that and other shiny stuff, check out www.necomics.com.The Tick: Days of Drama, a new, non-Edlund comic is due this month. The best news is that ABC is showing the original Tick cartoons all summer long. Chairface Cippendale, American Maid, Thrakkorzog, and Arthur are available at 11 p.m. weekdays (Toon Disney) and 11 a.m. Sundays (ABC Family). Tune in and hug your destiny!
--- Craig Brownlie
Press and play
There in the checkout line was a Dora the Explorer book that lets you record something and play it back by the means of two buttons on the cover. I don't know what the book is about, and neither probably would any child who owns it. The point is to record yourself and hear it played back, then launch off on a chain of increasingly dirty or silly messages until you've exhausted yourself and the possibilities, and then the book is put away, probably forever.
There was no one behind me in line. I pressed the red button for a moment, and then the blue for playback. Hearing the din of Wegmans being played back over the din of Wegmans was less than captivating. So I casually picked it up, placed it near my mouth, pressed the button, and murmured in a villainous foreign accent, "I will kill you." I placed it back on the shelf and pressed the blue button, pleased to find my message not only clearly audible, but even more calmly threatening than I had imagined.
Later, in the car, I realized that no child would ever hear my message. They would do just what I had done --- "What's this? Record and hear yourself talk? So I just press this button here?" And then the damage is done. My message is gone, never having had a chance. And it was even a few more moments before I realized that there must have already been a message on there when I first hit record. It never occurred to me that I probably wasn't the first person to figure out how to hit the red button. And now that message, probably a priceless communication from a 7-year old, was gone.
--- Andy Davis