Reviewed by Marc Specter
I have a confession: I am not a writer. I do not want to be a writer. And among the spectrum of writing, if I were to write, I think the last form of writing I might ever endeavor would be to attempt comic book writing. It takes an eye that I just don’t believe I possess. My talents lie elsewhere. At least that’s what I like to believe.
So, given the above confession, you might ask why oh why would I ever pick up Dirk Manning’s Write or Wrong: A Writer’s Guide to Creating Comics? And that would be a fair question. You see, even though I have no aspiration to be a comic book writer, I am a fan of lifelong learning. I’m also a fan of comic books, and I figured Dirk’s book offered a great opportunity to get inside the mind of a comic professional and have a greater appreciation for the medium I love so much.
And you know what? I was write. Er…uh…right. I was right.
But the real truth here, and the secret that Dirk may or may not want you to know, is that Write or Wrong is so much more than merely a guide to the budding sequential storyteller. What Manning has crafted is part autobiography, part “how to”, and part inspirational tale.
Sure, you could try to leave the book with merely a working knowledge of climbing the ranks of the comic book food chain, but I’d dare you to try. There are chapters filled with specific, concrete knowledge: websites to visit, steps to follow, and expectations to both have and adhere to. But if this is all you left with, then my friend you’ve not read closely enough.
Part of me would like to say that Manning did not perhaps realize all of what he was putting forth in Write or Wrong. But the truth, I believe, is that Manning is just too canny for that to be the case. Dirk has not only given us the framework for success, but he has filled in that framework with his personal details: his struggles, missteps, failures, hard work, and ultimate successes. And in so doing he imparts all of the lessons necessary not just in the world of comic creation, but in any pursuit. Yes, you read that correctly. I’ll say it again:
Manning’s advice is a path to success in any endeavor, in any career, whether or not you ever hope to pursue a career in comics. And therein lies its true message.
The spell that Manning casts just happens to come to fruition in comic books, a medium I love. And if you are reading this, I’ll bet, pro or not, it’s a medium you love as well. Nonetheless, even if, like me, you never ever have any aspiration to write, not in comics or any other medium, I still urge you to go pick it up and dive in for the long haul. Not only will you gain a deeper appreciation and love for the end product, but also what it takes to get there.
Marc Specter has been a comic-reader for almost 30 years. He brought his love to life by co-founding GrandCon Gaming & Comics Convention in Grand Rapids MI. Check it out at grand-con.com and facebook.com/grandcongca. He is not a writer.