700 Words on the Copying of Other Characters to Make the Tick
By someone who worked on The Tick
While I am happy to see discussion of The Tick, after some time of receiving nothing from this list, I should point out that The Tick vs. Cerebus’s Roach comparison has been done before, with the same one sided fervor in spite of the real history.
While most of these characters’ evolutions occurred about the same time, Ben created The Tick in a near vacuum with regards to independent and small press books such as Flaming Carrot, Cerebus, and Megaton Man (all of whose fans or creators have at one time or another claimed that The Tick was based on or stolen from them). The one item that all of these titles have in common is that they parody mainstream comics and/or superheroes. As a result of being different essays on the same subject and written about the same time (in the same comics era), they have some of the same things to say and some of the ways they say it have some similarities.
The mere fact that Cerebus predates The Tick (in print) does not make it the source of The Tick (despite what Amazon.com has to say), any more than it makes The Tick the source of The Specials or The Incredibles. Cerebus did not start as a parody of superheroes, but rather as a parody of fantasy comics (unlike The Tick which parodies and satires superheroes fairly exclusively). While Cerebus’s Roach is a parody of superheroes (often very specific superheroes), The Tick very quickly moved from pure parody to satire, and stayed there, especially with later creators.
I find it especially interesting in the Cerebus's Roach vs. The Tick comparison that Roach looks nothing like the version of The Tick that was more contemporary with him, and lacks the distinguishing features which identify later versions of The Tick. To say that The Tick is a copy of Cerebus’s Roach because they both wear blue and have antenna is to suggest that both are rips of Blue Beetle, Weevil, Assassin Bug, or any of dozens of other heroes or villains.
If you were to read The Tick's Big Year 2000 Spectacle, The Tick's Big Mother's Day Special, and later The Tick Color #6, you would see a character referred to as Proto or ProtoTick. Proto is actually the first version of The Tick as created by Ben prior to the ultimate writing and drawing of The Tick #1. He was brown, furry, and decidedly not nice. Big chin, defined antennas, and being colored blue were all changes made to better parody the classic superheroes of the age (Superman, Captain America, Batman). Even there, the blue version of The Tick in The Tick #s 1 and 2 still shows vestiges of his furry origin.
Specifically on point, Cerebus’s Roach lacks the three most defining characteristics of The Tick’s appearance; excessively pronounced chin, articulate segmented antenna, and plain blue (unadorned) bodysuit.
Of course, Cerebus’s Roach has also changed his appearance several times (for each of his personalities) over the years. In each of these changes (to parody different superheroes and comics specifically), Cerebus’s Roach has always lacked the profound chin, articulate segmented antenna, and plain unadorned blue bodysuit of The Tick.
In the mid 80's when The Tick was first being produced, ninja's were everywhere; comics, movies, TV, dumpsters and even hiding out in the hedge on the corner. It was only natural for ninjas to play a big part in parodies done at the time (Night of a Million Zillion Ninjas, Adolescent Radioactive Black Belt Hampsters, etc.). The Tick's first story, though, was not of Ninjas, but a parody of Superman, esp. the movie.
I'm not saying there aren't similarities between Megaton Man, Flaming Carrot / the Mystery Men, Cerebus's Roach, Normalman, The Ex-Mutants, and The Tick. On the contrary, I am saying it would be strange if there were not similarities between them, much like there are similarities between Law and Order, Homicide: Life on the Street, NYPD Blue, Third Watch, and CSI. However, to claim that one was lifted from the other or a copy of something else, is simply not an accurate account of how these titles and characters developed and evolved.
PS For the person who asked: It is a fairly accepted assumption that the Teenage Ninja Mutant Turtles origin is an aftermath of the DareDevil accident. The accident is drawn in detail in early TMNT comics, and specifically shows a young, unnamed man being struck in the eyes with a canister falling off of a speeding box truck. We later find out that the canister is radioactive.
PPS When I first saw the title of this discussion thread I was hoping that it was someone admiring a character from The Tick's Massive Summer Double Spectacle #1 and 2.