Debuted on Comedy Central's "The Colbert Report," Tek Jansen is the star of a self-published science fiction novel authored by host Stephen Colbert and titled "Alpha Squad 7: Lady Nocturne: A Tek Jansen Adventure." Created in humorous response to rival commentator Bill O'Reilly's dubious novel "Those Who Trespass," Colbert claimed his "Tek Jansen" book was rejected by twenty publishers. What soon followed on the show was a six-episode series of animated shorts featuring the character in many adventures and battles with his arch-nemesis, Thurmond Chang, accompanied by Porpy the space porpoise. A wish-fulfillment character of the most obvious kind, Jansen is a dramatically idealized version of Colbert himself (who also voices the hero in the animated shorts) and is a kind of sci-fi James Bond who is said to have made love to hundreds and hundreds of women.
In June 2006, Oni Press announced they would publish of a five-issue miniseries featuring the character in a main story by writers Tom Peyer & John Layman with art by Scott Chantler with back-up stories by Jim Massey ( "Maintenance,") and Robbi Rodriguez, ("Maintenance," "Hazed"). The first issue was released in July 2006, but the rest of the series was delayed by the WGA Strike, although Peyer claims the reason why the rest of the series wasn't released was "because the world of 2007 wasn't ready, but the 2008 people have earned it."
With the Harvey-nominated first issue on sale now in a new printing and the long-awaited second issue released this week (featuring a cover by Matt Wagner), Tom Peyer and Scott Chantler sat down with CBR News to talk "Stephen Colbert's Tek Jansen," as well as Peyer's upcoming work on "Marvel Apes," and the conclusion of his run on "The Flash."
Peyer says Stephen Colbert's involvement in the series consisted of one conference call. "John Layman, Jim Massey and I worked with him directly for all of one conference call," Peyer told CBR News. "He was as smart, funny and nice as you'd want him to be. He approves everything that goes out. And he monitors how we dress, which I can't even begin to understand. How is it his business?"
Oni Press approached Layman to write the series, and Layman -- of whom Peyer said, "He could never get enough of me" -- approached Peyer about writing the pitch together. "It creeps me out to see the way [Layman] stares at me when he thinks I'm not looking," he said.
Although Peyer does confirm that Tek was created by an idiot in the television persona of "Stephen Colbert," the space hero is not himself an idiot. "It's a real balancing act," Peyer said. "It took us a while to get the right mix of Tek's heroism and 'Stephen's' idiocy. If we did it right, it should appeal to anyone who likes comedy and/or space opera. In other words, everyone."
Jansen, who has the powers of a "super-awesome spectacular super-spy," was approached artistically by Scott Chantler as though he is the most confident person in the universe. Much like Colbert's own TV persona, "This is a character who's convinced he's right about everything," said Chantler.
Upcoming, Peyer is working on the "Marvel Apes" series, writing back-up stories. "Karl Kesel wrote a great, funny, action-packed miniseries, and I get to write back-ups detailing the history of the Marvel Apes universe. I approach it somewhat less seriously than the authors of 'Marvel Saga' or 'The Official Handbook Of The Marvel Universe.' If you can't stand to see your heroes treated with less than 100% solemnity, please remember: these are the ape ones."
Peyer, a fan-favorite writer for years with his DC Comics series' "Hourman," has nothing but fond memories of the series which everyone hopes will soon be collected in trade paperback form. "We all respected and enjoyed each other's work and we really felt like we were all rowing in the same direction, like we all had the same comic in mind and we each did our part to make it happen," Peyer said of his "Hourman" collaborators. "I worked most closely with artist Rags Morales and editor Tony Bedard, and grew very fond of both of them. But not creepy-fond. I'm no John Layman."
Presently writing "The Flash," Peyer's run on the series ends after six issues. "We were cagey about how long I'd last because we honestly didn't know," the writer said. "But once it became clear it was going to be six issues, we parted friends. We've already talked about doing more work together in the future."
"Stephen Colbert's Tek Jansen" #1 reprint is on sale now, with the second issue (really) coming out this week.
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