Dirk Manning Discusses Short Comics, the Horror Genre

DirkManning2Recently, comics writer Dirk Manning joined the Creators Workshop for a discussion of his career, and both the craft and business sides of making comics.

Dirk is the writer/creator of the Nightmare World trilogy published by Image Comics, Tales of Mr. Rhee, and Love Stories About Death, as well as having a story featured in the first issue of Image’s Dia de los Muertos. Dirk is also the writer of a popular Newsarama column for comic creators. The column, Write or Wrong was recently collected into book form.

For over five years, Dirk Manning’s column has provided aspiring writers with candid advice, anecdotes and inspiration about how to successfully meet artists, create comics, and get them published. Dirk has collected key columns from the series with each installment personally revisited in preparation for the book’s release.

Topics discussed during the session included…

WoW-Final-CoverThe Importance of Writing Short Comics

Manning’s Nightmare World anthology consists largely of eight-page comics. Manning said this approach helped him work on a range of stories, and collaborate with artists who may not have had time for a longer work.

“I knew eight pages would be rather easy for a lot of different artists to work on, and I knew it would give me flexibility,” Manning said. “I wanted to write all different kinds of stories, and I wanted to show editors and publishers and artists what I could do.

Nightmare World has Sherlock Holmes stories and dragon stories and Cthulhu stories, anything you could imagine.”

dia-muertesThe Flexibility of the Horror Genre

Manning is known primarily for his work in the horror genre. He noted that the genre has a tremendous amount of flexibility. At the same time, it does often result in Manning being branded, he said, as “the horror guy.”

“People say to me all the time, ‘Dirk, you’re this well-adjusted guy, you’re funny, you’re personable. Why do you like horror stories so much?'” Manning said. “And it’s because you can tell anything with horror. You can tell Irish folk tales, you can tell love stories, you can tell stick-figure Wolfman stories.

“I write horror because good horror talks about what people do in unusual or extreme circumstances. And I think you can write really good, personal, visceral, emotional stories under the umbrella of horror.”

Other topics discussed included:

  • How Manning broke in to the comics industry
  • The early days of publishing comics online
  • Finding and working with different artists
  • How Nightmare World became a Shadowline book
  • Working the con circuit
  • The importance of publishing short comics
  • Using social media to promote your work
  • Why Manning prefers creator-owned comics to work-for-hire

Creators Workshop sessions take place every month, giving members real-world knowledge that will help them succeed in their comics career.

There’s still plenty of time to sign up before the next session. We hope to see you there.

— Posted by Paul Allor