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Video

Creating the superhero comedy "The Tick" in a world of epic blockbusters

Kai Ryssdal and Daniel Shin Apr 18, 2019
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Ben Edlund, creator of "The Tick," at his home in Echo Park.
Ben Hethcoat/Marketplace

There’s a guy in the superhero business who has hung around on the sidelines. Ben Edlund is that guy. He’s an artist, writer, producer and director for a number of television shows. But every once in a while, he returns to a character he created when he was just a teenager — the Tick — a superstrong, supersimple hero who has gained his own cult fan base after appearing in comics and animated and live-action shows.

The character’s latest home is Amazon Prime, where “The Tick” is now in its second season. But unlike most comic artists and writers, Edlund has worked on and overseen every single one of these iterations over the past 30 years, a rarity in the massive superhero business. Marketplace host Kai Ryssdal visited Edlund at his home in Echo Park to talk about what it’s like to return to “The Tick” in this current zeitgeist of superhero blockbusters.

On having creative control over one character for over three decades:

It has started to get pleasurable. It started in a very daunting place because I had been the steward of each one of the previous things, and each one had its own sort of niche of success. Just the characters’ essence had been kind of well maintained, so to do it again was terrifying.

“There’s a lot of grotesque in what I like, as is evident, probably,” Edlund says of the collection of various items in his home office.

On returning to the superhero genre in an era of big comic book movies:

It’s not easy to hang around. Like, it’s easier to just sort of fade out because there’s so much fatigue. That’s going to be the biggest challenge is to somehow move forward with this show and embrace the fatigue people are already feeling, have been feeling for a while and somehow have the characters triumph over their setting.

Host Kai Ryssdal, left, with Edlund.

On where “The Tick” stands in the genre of superhero blockbusters:

It is kind of a quirky little show. I mean … it’s over in the corner of the great sort of baffling superhero dance that has become our culture and is sort of snickering, making fun, but too scared maybe to fully dance.

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