I've often heard it suggested that writing is more important in comic strips than drawing. In fact, here's a quote from the King Features Syndicate submissions page:
"Second, we very carefully study a cartoonist’s writing ability. Good writing helps weak art, better than good art helps weak writing."
As someone who is constantly looking at, thinking about and creating comics, I can tell you that this is total bunk. While it's true that the foundation of a comic is often (but not always) the writing, and the drawing doesn't have to be realistic or beautiful, terrible drawing — or drawing that just doesn't work with the writing — can kill a comic just as thoroughly as a poorly turned phrase.
Saying that writing is more important than drawing in comics is like saying that writing is more important than performance in stand-up comedy. This just isn't true. Go to some open-mics and you'll quickly see that a beautifully crafted joke can easily be killed by terrible delivery, and vice-versa. In comics, the drawing is like the performance of a stand-up comedian. It can enhance, detract or add nothing to the writing.
Working on a recent Malcontent I was again reminded how a drawing can make or break a comic.
Malcontent brand webcomics almost always begin with writing. Usually two or three lines of text, but sometimes only one. These one-sentence Malcontents can be the hardest to draw. The drawing has to add something to the writing or the whole thing tends to flop. Often I'm lazy about it and rely on the facial expression of my protagonist to convey the idea and, thus, some of the humor. But the best one-liners are the ones where the drawing adds a new dimension to the idea set forth in the written text.
To wit, I recently set to work on a Malcontent that consisted of the following line:
"But if you have a cheeseburger you're already in paradise."
That's it, that's the whole gag. It's a pretty funny line on its own, but the drawing will make or break this one. Here was my first attempt: