Minorities in cartoons: Arthur (“The Tick”)

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This week’s minorities in cartoons entry is Arthur, a character from the comic-turned-animated series “The Tick.” Arthur first appeared in “The Tick” #4 (April 1989), and was created by Ben Edlund.

Background

A parody of superheroes, The Tick protects an anonymous city (named “The City”) from crime. Unfortunately, while he possesses vast strength and nigh-invulnerability, he’s also not the brightest superhero; his mental state’s also sometimes called into question. (In the comics, he’d escaped from a mental institution.) The Tick’s battle cry is the nonsensical “Spoon!”

Arthur is the Tick’s sidekick; he’s a former accountant who became more interested in superheroics. Arthur’s the opposite of his partner. While fairly smart, his only “power” is a moth-like white suit that lets him fly… and that’s it. Compounding that is Arthur’s tendency to be less-than-brave in the face of danger, to the point “not in the face!” became his “catch phrase.”

Other media

Arthur made the jump to TV in the 1994 Fox animated series “The Tick.” There, he was voiced by Mickey Dolenz (in the first season) and Rob Paulsen (for the remainder of the series’ run). Arthur’s religion comes up in at least one episode; he reminds the Tick he’s Jewish, but is uncertain what faith the big blue hero practices, if any.

The TV series is as ridiculous as the comic; one episode has the Tick fighting against a black hole (Arthur: “Fight it, Tick! Fight that black hole!”). Joining the duo in this series are two other heroes, Die Fledermaus (a Batman pastiche; he’s cowardly and inept) and American Maid (a Wonder Woman/Captain America pastiche; she’s serious minded, and the most competent hero in The City). The series ran on Fox for three seasons of 36 episodes.

Arthur also appeared in the short-lived 2001 live-action series. Actor David Burke played the flying hero. This series was much less successful than the cartoon, lasting for only nine episodes.


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