For over five years now, Dirk Manning has shared his experiences and his expertise in writing comics here at Newsarama with the column “Write Or Wrong” here at Newsarama. And now, he’s taken a page from his own column about getting published in comics, getting his columns collected and published in a new book from Transfuzion Publishing. Write Or Wrong: A Writer’s Guide To Creating Comics collects the highlights of Manning’s long-running column, updated with current data and the new things the writer has learned along the way.
“My goal in Write or Wrong: A Writer’s Guide to Creating Comics was to create a book that could be considered a definitive “field guide” for writers who want to learn not just how to write comics,” Manning tells Newsarama,” but actually get out there, meet artists, create comics and then publish them either online or in print… or both.”
Manning himself broke into comics when in 2007 Ape Entertainment published what would be the first in the writer’s long-running Nightmare World series of books. Manning moved the series over to Image’s Shadowline imprint, serializing new installments at ShadowlineOnline.com before collecting them in three print editions. When Manning was starting out in comics he knew he had the comics ability, but didn’t know quite where to start in doing the rest of the work. After Manning learned it for himself, he began “Write Or Wrong” to share it with others.“I knew I could write, and that if given the chance that I would really be able to make some great comics… but I didn’t know how to make the jump from a writer to an actual comics creator,” the writer explains. “Specifically, I didn’t know how or where to meet artists or convince them that, if given the chance, that we could make some great comics together.”
As evidenced by his work at Image, Zenescope and in various webcomics, Manning learned the tricky route of being a independent comics author, and knew there were others out there looking for answers like he was.
“Like a lot of writers out there, I was desperate and hungry… but the answers weren’t out there anywhere,” Manning says. “There was no “Bible” I could refer to help me find my way. Well, I vowed that, should I ever learn the way that I would share what I learned that worked (and didn’t) with everyone.This collected edition of Write Or Wrong joins an enterprising sub-genre of books about writing comics with entries by everyone from Stan Lee to Peter David and even Alan Moore giving advice. When asked about where his book fits in on that bookshelf, Manning says his focuses less on the academic process of writing and more on the realities of getting things accomplished as a writer coming into comics. “I think the majority of why there are so many “how to write comics” books out there stems from the fact that it’s seemingly so difficult to “break in” to the comic industry,” Manning says. “Write Or Wrong seeks to help people actually create comics rather than just a “how-to” book about how to write them. My goal is that, in reading this book, aspiring comic writers/creators will learn how to go about making the transition from being “aspiring creators” to “professional creators” without wasting all their time and energy laboring under the crippling delusion that they need to get hired by a major publisher of corporately-owned superhero comics – or even picked-up by someone like Image or Dark Horse – to be a “real” comic creator.”
In Manning’s book, he talks about writing comics from the perspective of not just writing the script but organizing creative teams, dealing with the logistics of comics, and finding the write artistic collaborator to make your scripts reach their potential.
“Yeah, sure, I touch on how to write a script in the “Full Script Style” versus “Marvel Style” and things like that, but I get that out of the way early so we can get to the real “meat” of creating comics, such as where and how to successfully network with artists (including where to find them), what will make your comic pitches stand out from the rest (to both artists and editors alike), how to develop the discipline and mental stamina necessary to do all the work you’ll be doing as the de facto leader of a small team of creative types, and how to best publish your comics, both online and/or in-print.”
One of the key points Manning stresses in this 216-page collection is the collaborative nature of comics, which the writer says is sometimes overlooked.“Creating comics is a genuinely collaborative process, and that’s something that a lot of aspiring comic writers tend to lose sight and/or sense of when trying to reach out to artists,” explains Manning. “This isn’t due to writers being selfish, horrible people, mind you… but rather due to the extraordinary hunger a lot of writers have to see their stories produced as comics combined with the unmatched excitement that comes with the possibility of someone actually entertaining the idea of illustrating one’s script.”
Manning says one of the biggest stumbling blocks for aspiring comics writers is under-valuing the contributions and opinions of the other people involved with the comic.
“Creating comics is like joining a band: It takes a group of like-minded people with similar tastes and a similar goal all joining forces and working together to create something they’ll all enjoy and get a reward out of completing,” says the writer. “Considering this, it’s important for writers to make sure they’re not treating the people who agree to work with them like art-bots.”
Write Or Wrong: A Writer’s Guide To Creating Comics is available now via your local comic shop, bookstore or online. The “Write Or Wrong” column itself will return to Newsarama next month on a new monthly schedule.