Welcome back, gentle readers. I hope you’re all ready for Part 2 of *our* Tek Jansen adventure. When we left our hero, he was not drawing “pretty pictures” . . .
While the main page for “Stephen Colbert’s Tek Jansen Adventures” on the Oni site lists John Layman, Tom Peyer and Jim Massey as the authors, other pages also list you as an author . . .
John and Tom are writing the feature stories, which I’m drawing. Jim Massey is writing shorter, back-up stories for each issue, which are drawn by Robbi Rodriguez. It should all be clear when the first issue comes out.
Could you describe how the collaboration between author and illustrator works on comics (or whether it varies from project to project)? Does the writing happen first and the illustration follows?
Typically, the writers will produce a script, much like a film script, which breaks the story down page-by-page, with dialogue and shot-by-shot descriptions of what’s happening in the story. Once the script is approved, the artist breaks it down into pictures to make the actual comic book pages.
You mentioned that Stephen himself is “very” involved in guiding both the writing and the art; could you expand on that at all? With particular respect to the art, what does that guidance consist of (is it focused on color, is it more stylistic, are there other details, etc.)?
Stephen has been pretty hands-off when it comes to the storytelling aspects of the art, but has a very clear idea of what he wants the art to *look* like, in terms of visual style. He and his team look at the art at each stage–pencil roughs, then inked versions, then finally the finished, coloured pages–and give me notes on what I’m doing that they like or don’t like.
We’ve obviously seen a few episodes of the animated “Stephen Colbert’s Alpha Squad 7″ on the show. Is it more difficult to draw the comic when the audience already has certain expectations as to what the character looks like, what the general “feel” of the series has been, etc.? Or is it easier that way than coming up with characters/settings on your own? In fact, should we even be expecting the art in the comic to echo what we’ve seen in the animated segments, or is the comic taking a new direction?
The comic is definitely taking a different direction from the animated bits on the show, which was Stephen’s idea. He wanted something a bit more serious and dramatic in tone, something that played it as straight as he does on the show. Which was a little weird for me, because one of the reasons I was hired was because we all assumed that we’d be going for an animated sort of look that tied in with the Sedelmeier cartoons on the show, and that’s kind of what I do (there are a couple of my “audition” pieces done in this style floating around the Web…one of them has appeared on your site.) It took a few tries, but I was eventually able to settle on a look that Stephen liked, by toning down the more broad caricature aspects. I’m trying to make it look like a space adventure comic from the early ’60s–heroic and dramatic, but still appealing and fun, and funny in spite of itself. The theory I’m going on is that this is a cool old comic of which the animated segments are silly Saturday morning versions (even though the reverse is actually true).
(Gasp!) A more serious, more dramatic “Tek Jansen”? Can it be? Stay tuned for the exciting conclusion of NFZ’s interview with Scott Chantler . . . just three parsecs away!