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Friday, September 19, 2014
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Published: Friday, 9/20/2013

CULTURE SHOCK

Dirk Manning still animated about his dream

BY KIRK BAIRD
BLADE STAFF WRITER

There’s no sure-fire guide to becoming famous, other than to leak your own awkward sex tape and hope it lands you a reality series.

But if you’re looking to get published in the comic-book world, there’s a much easier methodology: buy Write or Wrong: A Writer’s Guide to Creating Comics.

Written by Toledo native Dirk Manning, this intelligent and comprehensive how-to guide provides the formula to publication that an aspiring and inspired writer needs to implement in taking that “really good idea” to paper and then shopping it for mass readership.

“[Write or Wrong] really is about the writing process … how to find the stories that really only you can tell, how to find artists, how to print your books economically, how to publish online, how to get distribution,” Manning said. “That’s some pretty fundamental, unchanging stuff.”

Originally appearing as an online column, Write or Wrong was published in book format a year ago by graphic-novel specialist Transfuzion Publishing and is available via Amazon.com — $14.40 paperback, $8.99 Kindle — where it has received unanimous 5-star praise.

Most of the reader comments note the veracity of the book, a truth that the Bowling Green State University graduate lived as a once-upon-a-time struggling writer looking to break into the comic-book business a decade ago.

Ultimately, his self-published online comics landed him deals with print publications, including his industry breakthrough, the terror anthology Nightmare World graphic novels. He’s written several comics since, including the just-published Love Stories to Die For, a two-stories- in-one comic about the horror of love set in the world of vampires and aboard a doomed spacecraft.

More importantly is the upcoming publication of his four-part installment in The Legend of Oz: The Wicked West comic books, a series that re-imagines The Wizard of Oz characters in a Wild West setting.

Manning was awarded the choice opportunity to explore the origin of the flying monkeys, and went far beyond Oz author L. Frank Baum’s brief explanation of the monkeys’ servitude to the evil witches with some crazy twists of his own.

To promote his published oeuvre, Manning recently launched his 13 shows in 13 weeks tour, with regional appearances at comic book conventions and shops. Locally, he’ll be signing books and chatting with fans from 2 to 7 p.m. Sept. 28 at Seann’s Anime and Comics, 5805 Monroe St. in Sylvania.

“Am I surprised that I’m doing well on top of doing this much hard work? Not necessarily. But that doesn’t mean I take it for granted, either,” he said. “I’m happy that all of the effort is paying off, that more people are becoming aware of my work, that more people are reading my work, that I’m getting more publishing offers for my work, so that’s very positive.

“Now it’s just a matter of keeping that momentum going.”

Manning said he will share advice about the comic-book convention circuit as well as what to do once you’re published in his second installment of Write or Wrong. But for now it remains a work in progress.

“Doing all this touring and things I’m doing now is really going to be the fodder for the next book. And in the next book I’ll talk about work-for-hire writing, writing pre-established characters,” he said. “I haven’t written it yet because I’m still kind of living it right now.”

Contact Kirk Baird at kbaird@theblade.com or 419-724-6734.



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