Creating Comics With Roger A. Wilbanks


Today I’ll continue my behind the scenes stories behind the creation of my various comic strips, which you can view on MYCOMICSTRIPCLUB.COM.

Roger A. Wilbanks is a fellow that I “met” on Myspace many years ago. He’s a writer and artist living in Texas. For the past several years he’s been writing and drawing his own ongoing comic strips series’, THE PORTLAND EXPRESS and CENTRAL ZOO So when I started doing my own comic strips, he was one of the first people I sought out for feedback. And he was immediately helpful, right from the time I sent him the first strip I completed, the first installment of BOSS FROM HELL with Celina Hernandez. Here’s what it originally looked like:

While he complimented the premise and the art, he pointing out two things. That the “tails” of the word balloons were crossed, which he said were a cardinal rule not to do in comic strips. He also said that the lettering should be in ALL CAPS. I remember thinking he had a point about the word balloons, but I wasn’t sure about the lettering. I did check some other pro comics, and he was right that they all had all cap letters, but it wasn’t something I’d ever noticed before. So I wasn’t sure it really mattered. I mean, I’m no pro, I’m just doing this for fun, who says I have to abide by anyone’s rules? Then again there was a part of me that thought, you never know where this could lead. Someone may see one of my strips somewhere and like it enough that they want to hire me for some kind of writing job, or license one of my strips into a cartoon or TV show or something? Not saying I’m expecting anything like that, but who knows? So perhaps I should be striving to make my strips look as “professional” as possible? And as I was contemplating all of this, Roger went ahead and edited the strip, including rewriting the dialog,  himself and sent it back to me:

BOOM! Once I saw that I recognized that it was much better. So that became the version of the strip that I ended up posting publicly. Over the next few weeks I would send him other strips as they came back to me from Celina and Samax, and he would continue to give me some tips. And eventually I thought, well, I have to do a strip with Roger. Now because of his time spent on his strips, he doesn’t have time for anything “ongoing”, but he was open to an occasional one-off strip when he has time, and so we’ve managed to do three, so far. I have to say that my strips with Roger tend be the most collaborative out of all my strips. Celina and Samax tend to stick to my scripts for the most part, although I definitely try to give them leeway in terms of how to set up the panels, as they are the artists, not me. With Roger I’ll send him a script, and he’ll re-arrange the whole thing and change some dialog if he feels he can make it flow better, and it always works, so I’m not complaining. He knows what he’s doing. Such as with the very first strip we did together.

Because his CENTRAL ZOO strip features talking animals, I decided that my first strip with him should also include talking animals, and I a sent him this idea of a dog as a stand up comedian. It actually was originally planned to be a recurring strip. I’d called it UNFUNNY ANIMALS, and each strip would be an animal telling a bad joke on stage. I figured it would be something that I could easily come up with whenever Roger happened to have spare time to work on it. But he had different ideas. My original script called for the dog to get hit with a tomato in the face in the last panel of the strip, but Roger had a better ending in mind:

I was a bit concerned about whether or not I should use the word “bitch” in the strip, as these are meant to be Family Friendly, for the most part. But, in this context, he is referring to a female dog, so…

I was going for bit of a THE FAR SIDE with this single panel strip. Again, using animals as protagonists. This joke came to me from an old episode of Twin Peaks:

Seriously, for some reason, that joke always stuck with me. And I came up with this one for this strip, the idea that Penguins all look like they’re wearing tuxedos.

And this last one:

My original concept for this was a bit more humorous, but Roger went for more of a “sad” vibe. I think either way gets the point across. These days a lot of us are like this, where our online lives are more interesting than our real life lives.

These first three collaborations have gone well, and hopefully we’ll do more in the future. Be sure to check out MYCOMICSTRIPCLUB.COM for updates. And don’t forget to check out Roger’s own work:


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