The Indie Index – Interview with Dirk Manning
First things first, who are you?
I’m Dirk Manning and I’m the writer and creator of comics including, but not limited to, NIGHTMARE WORLD, LOVE STORIES (TO DIE FOR), TWIZTID: HAUNTED HIGH-ONS, and TALES OF MR. RHEE, the fourth volume of which is currently on Kickstarter with a *Kickstarter Exclusive* Hardcover and nine unlocked Stretch Goal bonuses and counting.
Do you remember the moment when you realized that you wanted to create comics?
I do, yeah. I talk about this in more detail in my book WRITE OR WRONG: A WRITER’S GUIDE TO CREATING COMICS, but the short version is it was when I discovered the power of the medium – of telling stories through a combination of words and pictures – after reading WATCHMEN, THE CROW, and THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS all pretty-much back-to-back-to-back as a teenager. I didn’t read comics much before then, but that made me a fan of the medium for life.
You’ve made a name for yourself and are known for a few things outside of just comics (obscuring your face, karaoke and ice-cream), how did they come about and what made them stick?
Most of it is just an extension of who I am, you know? I don’t like my picture taken, hence the tongue-in-cheek author photo of the guy in the top hat and scarf that has become my brand logo. From there, when I started doing conventions and people started wanting pictures with me, it was my readers who said I should cover my face, which was fine with me since I don’t like having my picture taken anyway.
As for the ice cream, again, I just love ice cream… and how it feels on my throat to eat it for breakfast after a long day of non-stop talking at a con.
Finally, in regards to the karaoke, that’s something that has taken-on a bit of a life of its own with me and Dan Dougherty creating alter-egos and cutting promos on our “opponents” and all of that, but ultimately it’s all in good fun and, again, an extension of what we do. Dan is a singer in the band ON THE OFF CHANCE anyway, so he’s obviously already very talented in that regard, and as for me… I’m sort of the Flavor Flav to his Chuck D., which is ultimately what makes it all so entertaining. [laughs]
What’s a mistake that you see new creators make that you think they shouldn’t?
Don’t ever take anything for granted. Slow and steady pressure it what turns coal into diamonds… and due to a variety of factors you’re going to have to constantly press forward just to have a chance of you and your work being noticed.
Continuing on from that, what’s the biggest mistake you’ve made in the comics industry and what did you learn from it?
Very early in my career I took one or two things for granted in regards to promoting my work (and not capitalizing on some momentum I had started), and I’ve vowed never to make that rookie mistake again.
Taking friendships out of the equation, what do you look for in a Kickstarter campaign to make you back it?
Reasonable prices for a product I’ll enjoy. It’s really as simple as that for me.
Five years from now, where are you?
A lot more books, and hopefully doing fewer conventions every year. I love doing shows, but I anticipate even moving into 2018 that I’ll be doing fewer (but bigger) shows because I’ll be spending more time writing the books coming out.
One piece of advice that you would give aspiring indie creators?
Write the book you most want to write first.
Go ahead and plug your work:
I can be found across most social media platforms at “DirkManning” (look for the pic of the guy in the top hat, glasses, and scarf), and my full touring schedule and bibliography is posted at www.DirkManning.com. That aside, my most current book is TALES OF MR. RHEE Volume 4: “Everything Burns” is now available from Devil’s Due through Kickstarter at bitly.com/EverythingBurns. This volume is the end of “Act One” of the series, but it’s also a perfect jumping-on point for fans of psychological Cthulhu-noir horror.