Dirk Manning and I go back quite a ways. Back further than his work on The Legend of Oz: the Wicked West Volume 4. Back to the days of website called Digital Webbing, where we both got some semblance of our starts in the comic book creating universe.
Dirk is a horror writer by trade, and is most known for his book Write or Wrong, a guide to creating comics, as well as his tremendous anthology series Nightmare World, which was published by Image Comics for many years before finding its current home at Devil’s Due. Through Nightmare World, Dirk has worked with some amazing artistic talents and has grown a rabid fan base from those many seeds planted through the anthology style storytelling. Dirk showed us that horror is not simply creepy, shadow-filled stories, but rather it is a style that can exist in all genres of storytelling. Romance, comedy, action, and yes even monsters, can be used by a master of horror.
Dirk is such a master.
Dirk has generously taken some time from his schedule to be the guinea pig of the new Jesse James Comics Creator Spotlight that will be featured weekly on the jessejamescomics.com website. A series of seemingly simple questions that will help us all get to know our subject, Dirk in this case, a little better and give you something to consider picking up the next time you’re in the shop for your Wednesday comic book fix.
1: Dirk, please tell the readers just who you are and what it is you do!
My name is Dirk Manning and I’m the writer/creator of comics including NIGHTMARE WORLD Volumes 1-4, TALES OF MR. RHEE Volumes 1-3, and LOVE STORIES (TO DIE FOR) all from Devil’s Due Entertainment. I’m also the author of WRITE OR WRONG: A WRITER’S GUIDE TO CREATING COMICS (Caliber). Finally, especially under the circumstances, I suppose it’s worth mentioning that I wrote the infamous “flying monkeys” story-arc for Volume 4 of THE LEGEND OF OZ: THE WICKED WEST published by Big Dog Ink.
2: How did you get into writing in the comic book field?
I joined an online studio of comic artists and started writing short stories based on what I saw their interests to be, and then started publishing those stories online as the comic series NIGHTMARE WORLD back in 2002. The rest is history…
3: What was the first comic book you ever bought? What attracted you to it?
The first comic I bought was THE INCREDIBLE HULK #364. I was mainly interested in starting to read comics because they would provide me with more and more reading material on a monthly basis, and I picked that one because I used to watch the HULK television show when I was little and I thought the “countdown” motif on the cover was interesting and witty.
4: What do you do to get into your creative zone?
Music… and the unrelenting desire to tell these stories so I can get them to the artists and then to the readers.
5: Have you ever doubted your talent? If so, how did you work through your doubt?
I make it a point to not move something forward in the creative process (mainly giving the script to the artist) until I’m confident enough to stand by it for the foreseeable future, and in doing so I tend to not have to wrestle with too much insecurity in that regard. There’s stories that I sometimes fear people won’t like as much as I like them – but at the end of the day I judge every story I write on the merits of its quality and move forward with it accordingly without looking back.
So… no? Not really? [laughs]
6: What is your favorite creation?
If I could only write one book forever (or at least to its natural conclusion) it would be TALES OF MR. RHEE. As far as favorite characters – Mr. Rhee himself is way up there, as is Thelma Lushkin from RHEE and NIGHTMARE WORLD as well as Lucifer (as also seen in those two series).
7: Have you ever been faced with negative feedback? How was this reflected in your work, if at all?
When I was first starting NIGHTMARE WORLD a lot of my peers went out of their way to tell me how no one was ever going to care about a horror anthology and that no one would buy print editions of my work if I first gave it away for free online using the online comic model of distribution. I ignored them… and have had a very fulfilling and successful career as a comic book writer thus far as a result of believing in my own vision and following through with it despite their unsolicited negativity.
8: Who is your greatest influence?
Mike Patton, the lead singer of bands such as Faith No More, Mr. Bungle, Mondo Cane, and about a dozen other projects, give or take. He’s ridiculously versatile, yet every project he’s involved with is clearly a Mike Patton project. He’s also not necessarily the most mainstream recognized singer out there, but he’s a “singer’s singer,” if you will, and that appeals a lot to me too. Mainstream success is one thing, but the admiration of your peers as well as rabid devotion of fans willing delve past the surface are both professional goals I strive to earn through my work and work ethic.
9: In thinking about the things that you have created, is there something that you hated but the public may have loved?
Not really. Like I said, I don’t release anything unless I’m not only happy with it – but proud of it.
That being said, I’ve written and released things I wasn’t sure my readers would like – but they went on to love to the point where they’ve become official “fan favorites” among my readers (including NIGHTMARE WORLD stories such as “Knee Deep in the Dead” and “Hungry Like the Wolf”) – so that was (and remains) a pleasant surprise. [laughs]
10: If your creative work were edible, what would it taste like?
Ice cream, of course. Sweet and luscious ice cream that people would be scared to taste, but love once they did.
Do you want to know more? Of course you do! Find Dirk at the following social media platforms!
Facebook, Instagram and Twitter: @dirkmanning
And the infamous Facebook Group: The F(r)iends of Dirk Manning!