An Interview with author Dirk Manning
What initially drew you to comics?
I’ve always been a voracious reader and a fan of art and animation (my mom is an artist, so that probably had something to do with the latter), but I didn’t really get into comics until I was a teenager. My local skateboard shop started stocking them, and it dawned on me that, if I could find a series I really enjoyed, that I would always have new material to read every month! I picked-up an issue of The Incredible Hulk written by Peter David, and it was a great read (of course), so I was off to the races in that regard.
A short time later I was introduced to the Watchmen, The Dark Knight Returns, and The Crow pretty much back-to-back-to-back… and at that point I fell in love with the power of the medium and the way you can tell stories here that you can’t in prose, film, or even animation.
Please tell us about your creative process.
I tell people all the time that being a writer is not so-much a job as it is a curse… and I’m only half-joking (at most) when I say that. Franz Kafka once said in a letter “a non-writing writer is a monster courting insanity,” and that’s the best way to describe it, I think. I’m always writing, even if I’m not typing. Mind you… I say that very specifically, too: I’m not “thinking about ideas” or “world-building” in my mind – which is something I think a lot of people consider writing. Coming-up with ideas and characters and worlds isn’t writing. Writing is creating a narrative that shape, form, and purpose… and ultimately substance.
I’m always writing – I’ve even writing in the back of my mind right now as I answer these questions, honestly -- and then when the writing is ready to produce and be given substance, I sit down and type it out (oftentimes as an outline first, so keep me on track and honor the intended “shape” of the work), writing the script. I’ll usually then let it sit for a bit, then I give it a second pass… then hand if off to the editor I’ve decided is best-suited to help me make that particular property as high of quality – and as close as to what I want it to be -- as possible. From there, the script goes to the artist, and then the letterer, and finally to the editor (again) for “final eyes”… and then the publisher to print.
I oftentimes am doing this with several different properties at once, too, although I will also say that I don’t necessarily type every day. I do write every day, though.
Please tell us about Butts in Seats, Buried But Not Dead, and any other titles you'd like to share about.
Butts in Seats: The Tony Schiavone Story is a biographical comic I wrote with All Elite Wrestling announcer Tony Schiavone over the first year of the pandemic when we were all largely homebound. It’s about his life going from a wrestling fan to working in the industry, eventually falling out of love with the industry, leaving, and then coming back only to rediscover his legacy and love for the business. This graphic novel, published by Source Point Press, went on to set a new record on Kickstarter and also become a #1 Best-Seller on Amazon.
Buried But Not Dead: Lost Tales Volume 1 is another book that I released during the pandemic. For years I wanted to collect several stories I’d written for other out-of-print anthologies into a new graphic novel – perhaps with a few previously unpublished comic book stories, too… and what better time to do that than when we you’re stuck at home after being used to doing 20+ shows a year, you know? (Remember what I said about how I’m always writing? Ha!) I lauched a surprise short-term Kickstarter campaign for the book (a “Quickstarter” if you will), and the book accumulated almost $15,000 in presales in 15 days. Source Point Press then picked-up this book, too, and it went on to be nominated for a Ringo Award in 2021 as “Best Original Graphic Novel,” so that was pretty amazing and humbling.
Immediately upcoming books include the Tales of Mr. Rhee Omnibus: Act One and Tales of Mr. Rhee Volume 5: “Rock Star Paranoia” – which is a horror noir series about a damaged and damned monster hunter (and is possibly my favorite series to write) and The Adventures of Cthulhu Jr. and Friends, which is my first all-ages accessible graphic novel… but it’s still horror, of course. Just, you know, cute horror. Ha! This fall will also see the Kickstarter launch for a second wrestling biographical comic I’m writing with Arn Anderson and I can’t wait for everyone to see that one, too. All these books will be released from Source Point Press, where I also now proudly and humbly serve as Special Projects Manager as well as a comic book writer, of course.
Past that, interested readers should keep their eyes peeled for the collected edition of Twiztid Haunted High-Ons Volume 2: “The Curse of the Green Book” as well as a new second edition of Write or Wrong: A Writer’s Guide to Creating Comics along with Hope Volume 2 and a few more comic mini-series and graphic novels.
Where can we find more information about your work?
My full bibliography, events calendar, and even a comprehensive list of interviews (including on YouTube) can all be found at www.DirkManning.com, and I’m also fairly active on Facebook, Instagram, and – Cthulhu help me, ever Twitter – under the handle @DirkManning. Look for the avatar of the guy in the top hat and scarf… but be aware that I don’t dress like that in real life, of course.