Posted by: Graeme McMillan on July 12, 2007
Since it was announced, I’ve been somewhat nervous of reading STEPHEN COLBERT’S TEK JANSEN #1. Nervous for all the right reasons, mind you; I really like all of the creators involved, and also find myself fairly fond of The Colbert Report as well (Although I still prefer The Daily Show, especially since Johns Hodgeman and Oliver joined the crew), but there just seemed either an optimism or the kind of ego that Colbert normally parodies to base a spin-off series on what was essentially a one joke idea (“The self-important news anchor secretly writes shitty sci-fi – but he’s completely unaware of how shitty it actually is!”).
Sure enough, the first issue struggles against the limits of the pretty limited joke; the writers do their best to expand the Tek Jansen universe with new characters and situations, but the problem is that doing so sacrifices the humor that Colbert specializes in (political and social satire) for something both more broad and narrow at the same time. There are political allusions in both of the stories – and in the first strip, also some Colbert Report injokes – but stripped of the real world context, they come across as weak and toothless.
The sad thing is, the writers are probably doing the best that they can with the core concept of the series, and the stories are fun enough (They’re also attractively drawn; I just realized that I hadn’t said anything about Scott Chandler and Robbi Rodriguez so far, even though both do a pretty good job juggling the likeness with the cartoony) – It’s just that I think that the reality of a Tek Jansen comic is pretty much fated to just be Okay at best, always going to be less valuable in reality than in name-dropping theory.