Black and white: Day four

I admire the process and teamwork which goes into creating comic books.

I love comic books (you might have guessed that already), not just because of the stories or the artwork (or because I long to wear a cape and jump off the wardrobe), but because I admire the 'process' and teamwork which goes into creating them.

Like the web, some comics are produced by one person, but many of the best are created by a team of people whose skills compliment eachother and go into making a better overall result.

Generally comic art creation involves,


One of the original reasons for this split between pencilling and inking was economics. As many regular comic books are published monthly and both pencilling and inking are time-consuming occupations, splitting them often ensured that publishers would be ready for their next issue on time.

Detective comics: Before and after inking

While pencillers work in tones and shades of grey, an inker only works with pure black and white. An inker also needs to balance a faithfulness to the original pencils, his own inking style and the limitations of the comic printing process. Over the years, many inkers have developed a recognisable style of their own and some, like Curt Swan, have become as famous as the writers or pencillers.

Spiderman: Before and after inking

(Ed: What has this got to do with web design? Get to the point.)

Underpants over my trousers

I think that comics have a great deal in common with the web, and comic artists have a great deal in common with web designers. Comic artists and story-tellers must,

I also think that web designers can learn a great deal from the process of creating comics, and I'm going to show a sneaky preview of a current project to illustrate my ideas.

Any thoughts?


  1. #1 On December 13, 2004 10:03 PM Lea said:

    Well, definitely. Comic books follow a graphical narrative. It's sequential art. Design is closely related to art, and comic books moreseo because of the fundamental design truths of gestalt, pacing, and storyboarding. Creating a comic has its own IA beginnings with thumbnails and "wireframing" to tell a story within context, while the pencillers try to challenge the confines of its panel borders and pages, the same way CSS gurus fiddle with their box models and more.

    It's no coincidence that many a web and design class constantly recommends their students to pick up a copy of Scott McCloud's Understanding Comics and apply its principles to their work.

  2. #2 On December 13, 2004 10:45 PM patrick h. lauke said:

    shame that you let the cat out of the bag at the end there. i knew what you were going on about, and had that nice "in joke" / in the know kind of feeling...

  3. #3 On December 13, 2004 10:59 PM Malarkey said:

    @ Patrick:

    Don't give me that! Even I don't know where I'm going with this one! ;) (And people might get the impression that we're... errr... friends... ;)

    Actually, its quite funny really. I started off thinking I was going in one direction, but along the way new ideas keep popping up.

  4. #4 On December 13, 2004 11:34 PM patrick h. lauke said:

    as long as i don't have a german badge with my name, we're only fleeting acquaintances ;)

    seriously, it's refreshing to read about things other than xhtml/css/geekery. that's what many people forget: navel gazing doesn't bring fresh approaches, only repetition. it's not healthy just having interests in the same field that one works in...or something

  5. #5 On December 14, 2004 07:57 AM Kris said:

    You seem to be keen of lists. So am I.

    If you'd make lists appear like lists (using bulletpoints for instance), it would seriously increase readability. Right now, the text looks kinda broken to me. I had to guess it was a list.

  6. #6 On December 14, 2004 12:52 PM Malarkey said:

    @ Kris: Your wish is my command! You now have shiny new bullets on lists :)

  7. #7 On December 19, 2004 02:34 PM Adam Pink said:

    I love teamworking but had no idea that was how comics were created, not being a major comic consumer.

    Having just spent an excellent couple of days in the company of Malarkey and team, I can vouch for this philosophy in action at their 'batcave'. There is a good vibe about getting technical and creative heads all in the same room and bashing things out. We have adopted a certain level of Teamworking at Sardine Media but I think it's time to review this with a fresh perspective and get 'closer'.