A Team Effort – Working on a Comic in a Team Environment

I don’t have to tell you that there are a LOT of comics out there!

There are also a lot of GOOD comics created by a SINGLE author. Generally, most comics creators have these wonderful stories in their heads that they need to get out on paper. We’ve all read these wonderful stories and thought to ourselves that we could do the same – but sometimes, the end result isn’t exactly what we’d hoped for.

It could be that the art is lacking or the story is weak (we all have to admit our faults in some manner, right?) If you’ve found yourself in this situation, don’t fret – perhaps the one thing you need is to relinquish a little bit of creative control and work with a trusted partner or partners! The big publishers such as Marvel and DC often pair up strong writers with up and coming artists or vice versa to help build up the finished product. You can do the same! Pair yourself up with a writer or an artist and watch the magic happen.

This article is going to show you some notable examples of working in a team environment.


Tim Simmons – Writer
DJ Keawekane – Artist
Lisa Moore – Colors
Brant Fowler – Lettering/Flats
DK Kirkbride – Editor

Spy6Teen (featured here in our Pick of the Week) is the story of Cally Calhoun, a teenaged government operative who is challenged by balancing a life of high school drama and the dangers of high-risk espionage missions.

Originally created as an 8-page short for the Zuda contest (DC’s former webcomics initiative), Spy6Teen (or S16 for short) utilizes a traditional team format to produce a weekly comic online. Much like a larger publisher, there are a number of people involved in the creative process – each with their own roles and deadlines. For the better part of 2 years, Team 16 has been cranking out their updates on a timely basis – with Tim doing the writing, DJ Keawekane rendering his pencils and inks, Brant and Lisa adding their colours and lettering, and DJ Kirkbride handling the editing. Its a working team that has recreated the print version of the comic production process for online.

The Trenches

Jerry Holkins: Writer
Mike Krahulik: Artist/Writer
Scott Kurtz: Artist/Writer

Every so often in music, a supergroup is formed from superstars of different bands. The same occurs in comics, and in this case we have the creative minds behind Penny Arcade and PVP coming together to create a strip entitled: The Trenches.

The Trenches revolves around a series of characters who work in game development. The lead character – Isaac, is one of the newest additions to the group, and the plot of the earlier strips feature him trying extremely hard to fit amongst the rest of the group. The strip chronicles the inglorious life of game devs and the constant crap they put up with on a daily basis.

The 3-man team of Holkins, Krahulik & Kurtz works very well as their informal method of pitching ideas and content development suits the offbeat and rapid fire humour that is common in the gag-a-day strip format. The Trenches operates in a ‘season‘ type format, with a series of strips spanning a number of months, followed by a brief production break and restarting with a season premiere. This allows the creators enough time to amass a larger buffer of strips, as their time is spread amongst a variety of other projects.

There are many other writer/artist collaborations out there, which, from a production standpoint, seems to be a very logical way of releasing quality work in a timely fashion. If you’re worried about meeting deadlines and your work is suffering because of it, you may want to examine the two examples mentioned above in further detail and see if one of the methods works for you. You don’t have to shoulder the load alone! We’re all in it together and there are more than enough people willing to get involved and enthusiastically lend a hand!


Andrés ‘ Drezz ‘ Rodriguez is the author of the neo-noir Online Graphic Novel El Cuervo. He provides WA readers with periodic articles (like this one) to help improve their comic skillz so they can pay their bills. Feel free to follow him on Twitter at @DrezzRodriguez

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    • Yes! I didn’t include Mary as she’s doing fill in work (in this case indefinitely) as Scott is working on Table Titans. Scott has basically said that Mary is currently their hired gun on The Trenches for the time being.

  1. Very informative on those unique collaborations. It’s challenging finding the right ingredients and talents to coexist on projects. Great article Drezz!AAAHHHHHH HA HA HA HAAAAA aaay! That was my mariachi yell.

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