Benito Cereno has been writing The Tick since 2009's The Tick New Series #1, and also has contributed extensively to Image's Invincible, writing back-up stories, co-writing Guarding the Globe and authoring Atom Eve and Rex Splode miniseries. In March, those worlds collide in a very literal fashion with The Tick #100 from New England Comics, a full-on intercompany crossover between the Ben Edlund and Robert Kirkman creations. Newsarama talked with Cereno via email about why the two characters are a good pairing, the future of the series, and what he's working on next. Newsarama: Benito, you've been writing The Tick for some time now and have plenty of experience with the Invincible world, so clearly a team-up isn't out of nowhere. But what can you tell us about the particulars of what led to bringing the two together? Was it just kind of like a, "Well, this makes sense, why not?" type of thing? And what makes them a fun pair to write together?
Benito Cereno: As far as I am aware, the Tick had never previously crossed over with a character from another company (other than I think an appearance in that book War of the Independents), and it was something the folks at NEC Press were interested in doing. They asked me for ideas, and since I had collaborated with Robert Kirkman on Invincible tie-ins before and because he and I were in the same room at the time, making it easy to ask him about it, I suggested Invincible. That is more or less the origin of it.
The great thing about Invincible showing up in The Tick is that Invincible is a character whose adventures started off relatively light-hearted, but his life took a dark turn. So he's able to look at the Tick and Arthur and kind of shake his head and say, "I wish all I had to deal with is guys trying to write their name on the moon." And Arthur kind of blushes and is like, "Well, I thought we were cool." But it's very playful; if anything, Invincible is kind of jealous of the liberty they have to be somewhat naive.
Since before I even began my run on The Tick, I had the idea for a story that was somewhat more dramatic than The Tick is used to, but it didn't quite fit the tone of The Tick New Series. It turns out the missing piece was Invincible. The presence of a more dramatic character affects the timbre of the whole story, and really makes for a different reading experience than just reading either The Tick or Invincible alone.Plus, in all the Invincible tie-in books I've done, I've written Atom Eve, Rex Splode, Brit, Cecil, Bulletproof and tons of others, but I have never before written Invincible himself. Even the scenes with him in Guarding the Globe were written by Kirkman, not me. So it's nice to finally be able to write Mark himself.
Nrama: The solicitation states that along with Chairface Chippendale, a new villain debuts in The Tick #100. What can you tease at this point about the character?
Cereno: This issue really picks up a lot of threads that have been woven in the subplots of The Tick New Series. The new villain is actually the revelation of the shadowy figure who tried to blow up The Tick in the first issue of the New Series and who aggravated Chairface by his ability to slip through the prison walls.
So we'll see who that guy is, we'll see what Chairface has been up to in the Little Big House (the prison within a prison for the exceptionally dangerous), we'll see who the new villains like Scarf Ace and Desperadoe have been working for, and several other things will be revealed.
All of this is not to say the book will be inaccessible to people who haven't been reading The Tick! Everything you need to know is in this one issue; it will just have more resonance for people familiar with the most recent series. You honestly need only the most superficial familiarity with The Tick and Invincible to get what's going on.
But the jokes are way funnier if you're familiar with both.
Nrama: Seeing how tons of guest stars are nearly obligatory for an anniversary issue, can we expect, as the cover suggests, plenty more characters beyond Tick and Invincible getting in on the fun? (Along with, apparently, a death.)
Cereno: To be completely honest, I didn't know until well after I had written the script that this was going to be an anniversary issue. I had just been calling it "Tick/Invincible." So it didn't even really occur to me to make it an "all your favorites!" kind of issue.
That said, the issue does feature Atom Eve and a thematically appropriate Invincible villain, as well as the regular Tick cast, including Bumbling Bee and the rest, lots of Tick villains, and the surprising return of a character I think readers of the New Series will be excited about.
As for the death tease, well, it is the Tick. I wouldn't necessarily take everything at face value. Or… would I?
Nrama: The issue also contains backmatter in the form of a "Saga of the Tick" recapping the character's history — were you involved with that part at all, or is it strictly editorial? (And do you have any idea how they got to #100? With all of the different series over the years, it's a tricky one to figure out.)
Cereno: That is all editorial. It may or may not contain material from the profile of The Tick I wrote for the 2011 FCBD special, but I suspect it will be largely new material.
As for the issue counting, I suspect that will be covered in that back matter as well. I'm not sure which issues are and are not being counted. From my count, this issue is more like… #100ish. Which is close enough for The Tick, so it's good enough for me!
Nrama: Your usual Tick collaborator Les McClaine is illustrating the issue. From your perspective, do you think that the respective visual worlds of The Tick and Invincible mesh pretty seamlessly?
Cereno: Yeah! If you look at Les's work over different projects, from The Middleman to Jonny Crossbones to his "Mayhem at the Manor" print to The Tick, you can see he's a deft hand at a number of diverse styles. So he was quite handily able to incorporate Invincible into The Tick's over-the-top world.
He has no problem whatsoever depicting all the elements of this story — from the mundane beginning on Arthur's couch to a hotel full of slime monsters to an explosive climax in space — in an exciting and believable way. Les is the best. Also, he is very handsome.
Nrama: At this point, you've been writing The Tick for a couple of years now — given that you started, like so many of us, as a fan of the original comics and cartoon, what has the experience been like getting to add to the character's history?
Cereno: Very strange, and occasionally high-pressure. The Tick is a book that is — and with very good reason — inextricably associated with the initial run by its creator. Anyone who works on the book is going to inevitably be compared to Ben Edlund, and fans are not shy about that. So there's a very high standard to live up to, and you have to push extra hard to get over the disadvantage of not being Ben Edlund. I think as the New Series has gone on, you can see me getting more comfortable with these circumstances, as the first issue is me halfway imitating the voice of an episode of the cartoon, and, say, issue seven is pretty much all me.
But, yeah, I think about high school me reading , and then I think of how future editions now will have dumb stuff I thought up, like Scarf Ace and Scary Chicken and Ichthuhuu and Trousershark, and it's pretty weird, yeah.
(Incidentally, I met Ben Edlund at San Diego a few years ago. He is literally the nicest guy. Unfortunately, I had just started work on the series, so I didn't have much to show him or get advice about.)
Nrama: On that note — it has been a few months since the last new Tick issue (March, maybe?). Is the plan for more Tick material past #100, or is it wait-and-see based on how the issue is received?
Cereno: Yeah, the book has kind of been on hold while a lot of behind the scenes stuff got sorted on this issue. Kirkman said he was really busy working on a TV show or something? I haven't really heard anything about that, so I don't know.
Lots of sales on this book certainly wouldn't hurt! Come on, guys! It's a crossover! It's a round number anniversary issue! It might have a death in it maybe! Put them dollars on the table!
Seriously, yeah, the future of the series is probably somewhat contingent on the performance of this issue. Hopefully, after reading the end of this story, people will be burning to see what happens next.
The Tick — not just this issue, but the series as a whole — kind of lives and dies by pre-orders. Retailers don't know you want it unless you ask for it! Please tell your local comics retailer if you want this issue! If all else fails, there are dozens of discount online retailers who would love your preorder. Don't just assume it will be in the shelf! Nearly everyone I know told me they hadn't read the series because they were waiting for the trade, then we solicited the trade and there weren't enough preorders to justify printing it! Speak up! Ask for it by name! Help keep me in my luxurious "living indoors" lifestyle!
Nrama: Finally, what else are you working right now on that readers should know about? Is there a Tales From the Bully Pulpit 2 update?
Cereno: Yes, work has been progressing on Bully Pulpit 2. The script is nearly done, and Graeme MacDonald is working on it in between his busy schedule animating different shows for The Hub, like My Little Pony and Pound Puppies.
Nate Bellegarde and I have been working on a third Hector Plasm special, which we've been calling "Fantasmagoriana," but he's got a lot on his plate as well, so no telling when that might be done. Similarly, James Harren and I are trying to get Santa Claus vs. the Martians in the can for next Christmas when he's not killing it on BPRD.
I'm also working with Eisner-nominated writer-artist Joel Priddy on a cool little project. It is about a mummy. We are hoping for a spring launch.
Otherwise, I'm always looking for new things to work on and new people to work with. I'm friendly, my spelling is nigh impeccable, and imposter syndrome means my page rate is very reasonable. Call me!Got a comment? There's lots of conversation on Newsarama's FACEBOOK and TWITTER!