I loathe the expression "What makes him tick."
It is the American mind, looking for simple and singular solution,
that uses the foolish expression.
A person not only ticks, he also chimes and strikes the hour,
falls and breaks and has to be put together again,
and sometimes stops
like an electric clock in a thunderstorm.
When I was little (really little), one of my favorite t.v. shows was called My World and Welcome To It. It starred William Windom, and was a glorious mixture of live action and animation that really struck my five-year-old fancy. The show was based on the writings and cartoons of James Thurber.
The main character, Thurber-like John Monroe, is an artist and cartoonist for a magazine called The Manhattanite. (Thurber worked as an editor at The New Yorker; his friend E.B. White got him the job there).
Are any of you Thurber fans? (Have any of you Ohio girls been to Thurber House?) He's funny but also somewhat tragic ... you get the sense his writing is really all he ever had a real grasp on in his life. But if you are interested in him, The Thurber Carnival is probably a great place to start. It will give you a good sampling of his essays, short stories, and cartoons.
I love James Thurber.
In my humble opinion, My World and Welcome To It would be a great premise to rework. I like this idea of a loose biography that grabs an artist's images and words and weaves them into an otherwise standard sitcom. I'm not sure his particular forms of misanthropy would translate well to television today, although there's always the standard Hollywood workaround where you ignore the bits of a person that don't work with the story you want to tell about him.
The show was cancelled after just one season of 26 episodes (it was very expensive to produce and reviews were mixed, although it won the 1970 Emmy for Best Comedy, and Windom won for Best Actor in a Comedy.) Sadly, it's not available anywhere to see, except for a few grainy, wobbly episodes on YouTube.
I'm sure most of the content went right over my head ... I liked it best for the fluid transitions between reality and fantasy, which mirrored life inside my own head (and still do ... I'm never completely on earth), and also for Lydia, Monroe's daughter, who was played by Lisa Gerritsen.
(I have been thinking about My World and Welcome To It out of the blue this week because I watched several episodes from the first season of Mary Tyler Moore on Hulu Plus while I was sick, and Lisa Gerritsen also played Bess Lindstrom, Phyllis's daughter on MTM. I just loved her when I was little.)