WRITE AND RIGHT:
An Interview with Dirk Manning
Coming in October will be a great "how-to" book for comic book writers or wanna be writers. It's written by Dirk Manning and was a long time feature on Newsarama. Dirk can speak from experience as he entered the comics field with an intent on becoming a writer and yet had no connections into the market. Through his columns, he outlines the strategy he took and shares that advice along with the many things he learned along the way. Writer's Guide to Creating Comics is an invaluable tool for anyone seeking to create comics, improve their knowledge of the industry and the craft, and/or be simultaneously entertained and informed by this remarkable, forthright and ultimately charming writer as he openly discusses how to overcome the odds and create comics - even if you can't draw them yourself.
Manning has Nightmare World-a three book graphic novel series currently out from Image Comics, the webcomics of Tales of Mr. Rhee and Love Stories about Death, and Farseeker running on the creator-owned site, Act-i-vate.
Write or Wrong: A Writer's Guide to Creating Comics is in the Diamond Previews (order #AUG12 1318), listed for October release and ordered in August at your favorite comic shops. The book is a minimum of 152 pages retails for $16.99. The ISBN is 978-0-9857493-0-9/
Here, Dirk is interviewed and discusses more about the book.
Tell us about the book, Write or Wrong: A Writer's Guide to Creating Comics?
This book is a collection of the earlier Write or Wrong columns that originally ran on Newsarama. When the server switched over, a lot of the columns, -including many of them which really contained what I felt was a lot of the "nuts and bolts" information and advice about creating comics--got lost in the shuffle and haven't been available online for a few years now.
I've wanted to take this column to print for years - making a true "bible" for writers looking for guidance on how to create comics - but the offer was never quite right and the time wasn't there with all of the online comic work I've been doing with Nightmare World, Tales of Mr. Rhee, Farseeker and Love Stories about Death among a few other assorted projects, including writing a short film for Blackbox TV.
That being said, though, for the past several years I've had a new book out every October, and I made the decision that this year, rather than releasing a graphic novel--specifically Tales of Mr. Rhee Volume 1--, that I would focus my efforts solely on the long-promised Write or Wrong collection.
For the book I've been going through each column and editing and tweaking it for print. Like I said a moment ago, I really want this to be a definitive resource for any writers out there who want to create comics but don't know where to find artists, put art teams together, cultivate positive long-term working relationships among them, etc.
While there are book out there on script writing and the more technical aspects of writing comics, Write or Wrong: A Writer's Guide to Creating Comics is a book that talks about not just how to write them, but create them and then publish them either online, in print, or both from the ground-up.
Like I said, I've wanted to publish these columns in a nice definitive edition like this for years, but it wasn't until I started talking to Gary Reed of Transfuzion Publishing that I came across the right "deal" and became really excited about prepping the work for print... so if you're excited about this book, be sure to thank Gary for helping to make it happen!
How did you "break" into comics?
I snuck in through an open basement window and just made a nice little home for myself in a dark corner. Long story short, I started networking with artists and posting the comics we created online back in 2002 and I've been around ever since. By consistently posting work every week and behaving myself online I've made it so that a lot of people became aware of my work over the years and began making me part of their daily/weekly surfing habits.
My Write or Wrong column then helped bring even more eyeballs to my comic work, and it soon got to the point where I came to the attention of Jim Valentino at Shadowline Comics at Image and the result was three Nightmare World graphic novels and several other online comics for Shadowline to date.
So, do you have any kind of educational background for your comic skills or are you self taught?
I teach at a college and am also a martial arts instructor, so teaching is kind of "in my blood," and believe it or not, both of these attributes help me write comics and help other people learn about creating comics, too. Quite a bit, really.
As for my own "education" in writing, I moonlighted as a music and comic journalist for about a decade and have always been a natural writer, with my only formal training in this regard was studying the script samples available for Watchmen by Alan Moore and the book itself, of course.
What's the best project that you've worked on in your career so far?
Gosh... that's a loaded question! Nightmare World could be considered the "best" since it's the one I worked on with the most people and the first series I've had go to print through Image Comics/Shadowline...
But then again, I really like Tales of Mr. Rhee quite a bit, as it's probably the most personal work I've done to date - and the longest series to follow the exploits of one primary character.
That being said, though, I am extremely proud of how Write or Wrong: A Writer's Guide to Creating Comics is shaping-up, and I think this has the potential to be the biggest book I've written to date... so let's just say it's Write or Wrong for the moment.
What's the best advice to give any aspiring creators?
Besides to pre-order a copy of Write or Wrong: A Writer's Guide to Creating Comics this October?
How about- believe in yourself, but listen to what the people ahead of you are saying, too. There's a lot to be said for people who already know the road and such people's advice should not be taken lightly...
Anything that you worked on that you would love to go back to?
I just gave the artist for Tales of Mr. Rhee Volume 2 the full outline of the series which will break down to about three issues worth of content, and I'm very, very anxious to get back to Mr. Rhee. People have been clamoring for his return and my excitement to get back to him and his world in almost unbearable at this point.
Of every character I've ever created, he is by far the most complex, enigmatic, tortured, and dynamic, which of course makes him my favorite one to write.
What's next for you?
Convention season! The fall is a busy time for me!
Work-wise, after the release of Write or Wrong: A Writer's Guide to Creating Comics, I'll be doing few more online one-shots in the Love Stories about Death series before we release Tales of Mr. Rhee Volume 1 in print and then start releasing Tales of Mr. Rhee Volume 2, which will most likely at least initially happen online.
Aside from that, Len O'Grady and I are both really excited about getting Farseeker back up and running again... and from there... we'll see. I have a few irons in the fire comic-wise, and I've also already begun thinking about a second Write or Wrong collection, too.
As anyone who has known me for any length of time can tell you, I'm not one to rest on my laurels.
Who is your favorite comics writer?
Alan Moore, hands down. There's Alan Moore and then there's everyone else... and don't trust anyone who answers otherwise.
Who is your favorite "classic" comic artist?
I really didn't start reading comics until I was a late teen, and I'm not a big superhero guy to boot, so that's a tough-one. Ummm... how about Bernie Wrightson and Richard Corben in a tie?
Who is your favorite current comic artist?
Eric Powell. He is, hands down, one of the most amazing artists working in the medium today. Juanjo Guarnido, the illustrator of the absolutely amazing Blacksad, is an easy second place, though. "Talking animals" or not... it's a literally breath-taking comic to look at.
Do you read digital comics?
I started my career publishing my comics online back in 2002... so, yeah, I'm glad the rest of the world is finally catching-up!
What is your favorite movie?
Cabin in the Woods really rocked me in all the right ways... but as for an all-time favorite? I'd say the original first two installments of The Karate Kid.
What TV shows are you watching?
I watch very little TV - at least in real time aside from The Walking Dead and some assorted pro-wrestling here and there. I have been slowly getting caught-up on stuff I missed the first time around, though, like Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Sherlock, both of which I've enjoyed.
Give a shout out to wherever you get your comics.
I love you, Amazon and Artist Alley of various comic conventions! Holler!
Gary Reed is the publisher of Transfuzion Publishing and was the former publisher of Caliber Comics. As a writer, he has written a number of graphic novels and comics including Saint Germaine, Deadworld, Baker Street, Renfield, Raven Chronicles, A Murder of Scarecrows, and others. Outside of Talking Transfuzion, he has his regular blog covering a wide variety of topics at reedgary.blogspot.com and his website www.garyreed.net
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