Before the superhero boom of the ’00s led to the superhero glut of the ’10s, there was The Tick. The character, created by cartoonist Ben Edlund to promote a small chain of Boston-based comic book stores, found a comfy home bringing weirdness to afternoon viewers of Fox Kids’ animation block in the mid-’90s, giving fans a dose of absurdism to their tales of costumed adventurers. Armed with his rallying cry (“Spoon!”) and allies like Batmanuel, Die Fledermaus, and trusty sidekick Arthur, The Tick nominally protected his city as its greatest hero.
The Tick ran on Fox for three years, and was rebooted as a live-action series in the early ’00s for nine brief episodes that failed to find an audience. And the following decade-and-a-half have been relatively quiet for the character. However, Amazon debuted a pilot for a reboot in 2016, and it quickly ascended through the company’s online voting system to earn a series order. That series hits the streaming service in August, and to remind viewers of the good works that the character is known for, they partnered with crowdsourced video studio Tongal to launch a campaign called #TickSaveMyCity.
The campaign asked Tongal users and Tick fans to create videos explaining a problem in their city—serious or silly, it’s all the same to The Tick—and asking the hero to intervene. Finalists were revealed this week, and all of them touch on things that could clearly use a guy in blue tights to address them.
“The Tick is always willing to help citizens in distress,” explains Mike Benson, U.S. Head of Marketing for Amazon Studios. “There is no problem that is too big or too small for him to handle.” To that end, the three finalists run the gamut: from illegal dumping in Cedar Falls, Iowa, to the needs of a community center that serves refugee children in Charlotte, North Carolina, to the tendency of people in Waldwick, New Jersey to leave dog poo in some guy’s yard.
Some of the suggestions get into areas that are a little weightier than The Tick tends to deal with—refugee resettlement isn’t an issue anyone might expect Sewer Urchin and American Maid to address—but Benson says that the reboot of The Tick “is a show [that] touches on deeper issues,” and the idea that a guy in blue tights couldn’t help out with refugee kids is disproven by that video’s creator, Caleb Van Voorhis, who does the entire thing wearing a homemade Tick costume.
“Most superheroes wear tights, which is pretty silly to begin with, but there are real-world things that people aren’t paying attention to that The Tick can help out with,” Tongal co-founder James DeJulio says. “It’s a smart way to get attention for bigger issues without making light of them—except for the light ones like the dog poop in New Jersey. If you look at the video, the tone does feel right.”
Fans will vote for whichever issue they feel The Tick should step in to address over the next few weeks—then, of course, he’ll actually do something to help, although those details are vague for the time being. (“My hope is that someone on the YouTube comments comes up with a great idea,” DeJulio says, though he adds that Amazon and Tongal have ideas of their own if the YouTube comments end up going the way YouTube comment sections all too often do.) “It’s a lighthearted, fun thing, and hopefully people will have fun watching the videos,” he says. “And then watching these ideas that are spawned digitally cross over to the real world, to do some good in an analog space.”