Tom Peyer is one of a trio of writers on the new Tek Jansen comic books that is coming out next month. He answered a few questions for us that help to give us some background on him and his writing and to give us a sneak peak at the new Tek Jansen comic.
You can learn more about Tom, and see more of his work, at his blog: SuperFrankenstein Blog
1) First, I’d love to hear more about your previous work. What are some of the more popular comics you have written in the past? What styles of comic writing have you done in the past that influenced your writing with this current project?
I wrote and drew a political comic strip that ran in the Syracuse New Times, an alternative weekly, for several years. From there I went to work at DC Comics, where I was an editor for a while before becoming a freelance comic book writer. I worked for a long time on on Legion Of Super-Heroes, a venerable title starring 30 spandex-clad heroes in the 30th Century, so I guess I bring some real work experience to Tek. I also wrote Hourman, the adventures of a shy robot from the 853rd Century, and these days I write stories for Bart Simpson Comics.
My writing partner, John Layman, has written a lot of hilarious, action-packed stuff. He has a couple of original graphic novels out. One, called Puffed, stars a theme park employee who gets trapped inside his cartoon character costume and has to make his way through the mean streets of the city. Another one, Armageddon & Son, is a terrific spy comedy. Right now he’s doing Army of Darkness Vs. Marvel Zombies–based on characters appearing in The New York Review Of Books–and a comics sequel to Scarface. Did I say New York Review Of Books? I meant the Evil Dead movies and Marvel Comics. I always mix those up!
2) How were you and fellow writers John Layman and Jim Massey recruited for the Tek Jansen project? Had you worked with either of these writers, or the illustrator, Scott Chantler before? Were you chosen from your previous work, or did you actively pursue this project because you’re a fan of the show?
My friend John recruited me to collaborate on a proposal, which the publisher, Oni Press, ended up accepting. John and I are both fans of the show; I don’t think I’ve missed an episode, which feels embarrassingly compulsive now that I’ve said it. I’ve never told anyone before. Wow. Wake-up call.
Anyway, John and I write a 16-page story in the front of every issue, and Jim Massey writes a separate eight pager. I haven’t met Jim, but I hope we can get together at the big Emerald City Comic Con here in Seattle, March 31st and April 1st.
3) I know that there is some backlore for the Tek Jansen stories and some characters that appear in both the book and the animated series (such as Abraxxia). How much to the established canon did you stick to in the comics? And on a similar note, are there any “in jokes” that the Colbert Nation should watch for in the story or illustrations?
Our stories are all-new, if we can extend the definition of “all-new” to include “of or pertaining to faithful copies of cheaply printed stories created in 1938 by virgins in crew cuts and horn-rimmed glasses who wrote for negligible compensation but left a rich legacy of unshackled imagination for future generations of virginal men.”
If you soak the cover of #2, it expands into a sponge sculpture of Tek interviewing a far-future descendant of Sen. Charles Schumer. Really nailing him, too.
4) How involved were Stephen and the ‘Colbert Report’ in the final product? What kind of input were you given by Stephen himself, and what kind of direction were you given in the creation of the stories? Did any of the ‘Colbert Report’ writing team help with story ideas or character development?
Alas, the Report writers were too busy with their own jokes to write ours for us. Bastards. But Stephen Colbert and Ben Karlin gave us a surprising amount of feedback, encouragement and time, given their other commitments. They particularly wanted us to understand how the Tek character differs from the Colbert character. This isn’t a comic book version of ‘The Colbert Report’; it’s better! It’s space opera! Aliens die! Humans live! In a universe so vast, we’re like ants! Ants! Except for Tek. He’s not an ant.
5) Both the snippets of the book shared on the show as well as the animated adventures have shown very little coherency of plot. What kind of plots are these new comic book adventures going to take? Are the new comics going to be humorously unconnected vignettes similar to the animated series, or will there be more of an actual story and plot line?
As much as I admire the animated Tek — and I do, a great deal — John and I tend to write stories that are more structured, coherent, contrived, predictable, and pat. Our credo: If you don’t feel like you’ve read it before, we’ve failed.
6) I’ve heard that this is going to be a series of comics – how many issues are planned in the series, and when are the planned released dates for the different issues?
Five issues. The first one is scheduled to ship to comic book retailers in March; for more information, haunt onipress.com. Now, many of you have never set foot in a comic book store; it can be scary the first time. Just pretend you’re Tek, on a mission to establish first contact with some repellent extraterrestrial species. We’re betting everything that your fear of not being “hip” to the latest Colbert “merchandise” will override your completely understandable xenophobia.
7) Are there any final interesting elements you’d like to share with the Colbert Nation to further whet our interests? Any spoilers you think you can get away with sharing?
All I can say is that Tek encounters some super-advanced aliens who freely give our future civilization the keys to finally eliminating war and famine. Bastards.