Creator's Toolkit #4: Dirk Manning's Write or Wrong Column

Here is a completely unsolicited plug for a great series of articles for aspiring comics creators generally, and writers specifically. For the past couple years, Newsarama has featured a column titled "Write or Wrong," written by Dirk Manning. Dirk is the writer/creator of the online and print series Nightmare World.

Now, I'm not going to do the articles justice here, but Write or Wrong consistently provides some "tough love" to aspiring comic writers, specifically on just how much work it takes to get anywhere in the industry. Still, Dirk provides some helpful tips on topics such as how to find and work with artists, marketing your comic and building your brand, general storytelling do's and don'ts, and a host of others. The column is must read stuff for up-and-comers and those trying to break in.

To get a sense of just what drives Dirk's philosophy regarding becoming a comics creator, you need to look no further than his article, WOW #3: How Badly Do You Want It?- Dirk recalls a conversation he had with Marvel editor Axel Alonso, where he asked him for advice on how an aspiring writer could increase his or her chances of breaking in.

Alonso told him, “If you want to write comics you have to show editors that you can actually write comics. It’s hard to find the time to sit down and read scripts, but we all love comics, so you’ll need to show you can write comics using a comic. To do that you’ll need an artist. You’ll need to either find someone willing to work with you for free or pay someone to illustrate a short script for you… and it may cost you a decent amount of money. However, you could have a nice entertainment system at home… or you could pay a really good artist to illustrate one of your scripts so you have something to show editors. It just comes down to a matter of how badly you want it.”

This really jives with my own philosophy. You could spend all day long thinking up cool Spiderman story lines, drawing 5 page sequential samples of the Fantastic Four taking on the Justice League, or fill your hard drive with script after script. Hey, if that's what you want to do, nothing wrong with that. But if you actually want to be a comics writer or artist, sooner or later, you actually have to get around to creating actual, complete comics. To expect anyone to hire you, or even listen to word one of a pitch, before you've actually demonstrated the ability and the tenacity to see a comic story told from start to finish is pretty ridiculous.

So check out Write or Wrong. The complete set of links to all the articles can be found here. You'll be glad you did.

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