Saturday, August 6, 2016

New England Comics


Style Classification: Cohesive Universe? Store-Turned-Publisher?

Notable Works: The Tick


Not nearly as important as Image Comics and "The Walking Dead," but NEC achieved more notoriety than many mainstream comics. The creation that garnered such a public acknowledgement: The Tick.

New England Comics is a chain of comic shops in Massachusetts that decided in the '80s that they would try their hand at publishing. They asked their customers for ideas, and eventually settled on a sketch by a young artist named Ben Edlund. They loved the idea of un-squish-ability and tongue-in-cheek humor, and in 1986 the Tick was born.

Similar in spirit to Alan Moore's The Watchmen, the Tick as a comic is more about a world in which super heroes exist, but instead of Moore's look into the existential issues involved therein, NEC focused on absurdity and humor.

It worked. The comics were popular even in the suburb of Sacramento where I grew up. There was a popular and hilarious Saturday morning cartoon show, and even a live-action prime-time show inspired by the character.

New England Comics remains a stand up company: I obtained their offering this year for Free Comic Book Day. Inside the front cover is a letter from the company thanking me for reading and offering, while supplies lasted, each of the FCBD issues they had offered in years past, free of charge. The hitch was that I would have to send a pre-stamped envelope.

Two weeks after sending out that large pre-stamped envelope, I received five issues of NEC's FCBD Tick.

Pretty sweet.

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