Making Comics 3: Collaboration

NOTE: You can find parts 1 and 2 of this series in those links!

One of my greatest disappointments in life is I’m not a better artist. Now, I’ve worked at it, and can sort of execute some….lines and shapes? But I’m not an artist. These guys are artists.


There’s been a lot of discussion lately about how comics routinely delete the artist from the creative equation. We hear a lot about how Frank Miller and Brian Bendis’s runs are the basis/frame work for Daredevil season one. And true, they wrote (and especially in Miller’s case, drew!) those runs. By the end, Frank Miller was doing layouts, with the INCREDIBLE Klaus Janson on finishes. Bendis’s run was primarily drawn by the UNBELIEVABLE David Mack (who wrote parts of what people frequently attribute solely to Bendis) and Alex Maleev [look, I’m a Daredevil fan boy. This is what I do.].

One factor in this is artists need more lead time than a writer. A writer hits “backspace” and gets to pick a new word, and so four keystrokes later, you’re good (many four letter words to pick from). An artist hits “undo” and has to visualize and create what they are trying to express, but instead of getting to pick from letters, they have to make what constitutes the letters themselves. So, yeah, artists tend to not be on every consecutive issue (tho, John Byrne in the 80s, Phil Noto on the BAD ASS Black Widow with Nathan Edmondson). That does not in anyway limit the value of their contribution.

Writers, it’s important to not just think of artists as your character-page-and-panel factories. Most of the best comics ever have come from working together, creating a rapport, and TRUSTING each other. My scripts frequently say, seriously, “Taryn and Kevo, I trust you guys to execute this completely. Here’s the plot:” It’s not because I’m a lazy writer. If the writer is deciding how the images fall on the page, in that sense, they’re also one of the visual artists on the book. If an artist is taking that script and transforming it into storytelling, they’re one of the writers.

I talk a lot about how Kid Riot is something so different, so much better than what I’d originally projected. It’s because I trusted Taryn, Kevo, and later ChadleyC and Tori, to bring who they are to the page. They don’t draw my scripts. We create stories together.

It’s a creative team, not a creative leader and some workers. Let’s remember to keep artists in the creation of comics and not just in their production.