If you’re a Dirk Manning completist (don’t laugh, they are legion!) this is the stuff you’ll want to get (or at least know about)! To make you’re life easier, I’m not including all the con-exclusive and/or self-published work I’ve done in this list. If you have any of it, though, well, you’re truly an old-school and/or very loyal reader/friend. Thank you!
NIGHTMARE WORLD: “The Long Hard Road Out of Hell” #1
- Features four stories from the online NIGHTMARE WORLD series, including an early version of “Frozen” that has never been reprinted and was later redrawn by a different artist for the Image Comics/Shadowline collections. Each story also contains an illustrated Dirk Manning pin-up/introduction piece that has never appeared in print outside this collection. Finally, this issue also contains a fifth Dirk Manning pin-up that serves as an introduction to three short one-page NIGHTMARE WORLD stories that served as “Halloween Specials” during the original online run of the series. Although this comic was marketed as “1 of 4,” the remaining three issues were never released. The covers were all meant to form one giant image (with the back covers also all forming a giant H.P. Lovecraft-style Necronomicon), with the full image later appearing in print as part of the introduction to NIGHTMARE WORLD Volume 2: “Leave the Light On” from Image Comics/Shadowline.
THE WALKING DEAD #46 (Image Comics)
- My first (and only) letter to a comic book is published, in which I ask Robert Kirkman if zombies poop. His answer is quite entertaining, and he even seemed to gross himself out a bit as he answered it.
NIGHTMARE WORLD: The Online Series (Image Comics/Shadowline)
- After self-publishing — and completing — the whole series online over the course of several years, NIGHTMARE WORLD is picked-up by Image Comics/Shadowline as part of their online comic hub. By the second month it is the site’s most-read online comic, and remains that way throughout the duration of its two-year run at the site. We ran 52 stories at the site, 39 of which have been collected in print over three graphic novel collections to date, starting with…
NIGHTMARE WORLD Volume 1: “Thirteen Tales of Terror” (Image Comics/Shadowline)
- Collects 13 stories from the online comic series NIGHTMARE WORLD (remastering several of them for print in the process) as well as an exclusive two-page prose story titled “The Long, Hard Road Out of Hell” with spot illustrations by Josh Ross.
NIGHTMARE WORLD Volume 2: “Leave the Light On” (Image Comics/Shadowline)
- Collects 13 more stories from the online comic series NIGHTMARE WORLD (remastering several of them for print in the process) as well as an exclusive two-page prose story titled “Bad Romance” with a pin-up illustration by artist Carolina Eade.
FARSEEKER: The Online Series (ACTIVATE Comix)
- Artist Len O’Grady and I published the first full issue (and a few pages from the second) of our all-ages-friendly fantasy comic at the prestigious ACT-I-VATE Comix webcomic hub before work on the series had to be postponed. We are both clamoring to return to it, though! Honest!
TALES OF MR. RHEE: The Online Series (Image Comics/Shadowline)
- The thirteen eight-page stories that comprise TALES OF MR. RHEE Volume 1: “Procreation (of the Wicked)” began running at the rate of two pages a week (one page every Tuesday and Thursday) at www.ShadowlineOnline.com. This series would later be collected as TALES OF MR. RHEE: “Procreation (of the Wicked)” by Devil’s Due after fans supported a Kickstarter campaign to bring it to print, pledging over over $15,000 in pre-sales! They like this title! They RHEE-ly like it!
NIGHTMARE WORLD Volume 3: “Demon Days” (Image Comics/Shadowline)
- Collects 13 more stories from the online comic series NIGHTMARE WORLD (remastering several of them for print in the process) as well as am exclusive two-page prose story titled “That Which Is and Should Never Be” illustrated by series letterer — and great painter/illustrator — Jim Reddington.
DARK MISCHIEF Volume 1 (DreamWalker Press)
- Includes the three short one-page stories that originally appeared in the Ape Comics release NIGHTMARE WORLD #1 as well as the introductory pin-up, this time with different dialogue.
TARA NORMAL: The Webcomic (Case #3)
- Writer/artist Howie Noel and I met when we were both guests on the same podcast, and we got along well enough that we stayed in touch and started reading each other’s work. He loved my comic NIGHTMARE WORLD and I loved his comic TARA NORMAL, and this parlayed into me doing a short script for a dream sequence for the online incarnation of the TARA NORMAL comic series in “Case 3: Out of Body, Out of Mind.” Despite the light-hearted nature of the comic, Howie let me write a very dark and foreboding dream sequence in which Tara meets her mother(?) for the first time. The whole sequence is 4 pages (the first page of it shown below), and marked the beginning of a strong working relationship between the two of us.
BOMB QUEEN Volume 6: “Time Bomb” (Image Comics/Shadowline)
- I wrote the two-page foreword to this collection, titled “How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb Queen” for Jimmie Robinson. He returned the favor by naming one the heroes in the book “Dirk Devil,” which is his playful nickname for me.
WRITE OR WRONG: A WRITER’S GUIDE TO CREATING COMICS (Transfuzion Publishing/Caliber Comics)
- 216 pages of practical advice and anecdotes about how writers can bridge the gap from being aspiring comic creators to real-life professional ones. This book collects numerous completely remastered/re-edited columns from the early days of the WRITE OR WRONG column from NEWSARAMA.com and combines them with several new columns/chapters to create a 26 chapter “field guide” to creating comics.
BlackBox TV presents “The Hunger” (Blackbox TV/YouTube)
- A short 8-minute film written by Dirk Manning for the popular YouTube horror movie series. Two other Blackbox TV films — “Zombie” and “Night Shift” — are also directly based on stories from NIGHTMARE WORLD.
SHAKESPEARE SHAKEN (Red Stylo Media)
- Contributed the forward to the collection as well as the short story “The Iron Tongue of Midnight,” which tells of Queen Mab’s secret relationship with Mercutio and how it impacted the events of Romeo and Juliet. Oh… and all the dialogue was written in Iambic Pentameter, too. That’s pretty cool, huh?
BlackBox TV: “The Secret History of Silverwood” (BlackBox TV)
- BlackBox TV founder Tony V. hired myself and artist Anthony Peruzzo to craft a 12-page online comic that revealed the back-story of the town Silverwood from his YouTube horror film series of the same name.
GRIMM FAIRY TALES HALLOWEEN SPECIAL 2012 (Zenescope Comics)
- I wrote the seven-page story “Jack the Lantern” for this issue. Want to know the origin of “Jack O’ Lanterns” and where they really come from? Hunt down a copy of comic… and prepare to squirm!
LOVE STORIES ABOUT DEATH:The Online Series (Image Comics/Shadowline)
- This series of three 22-page genre-hopping one-shots (each written by me and illustrated by a different artist) began running at www.ShadowlineOnline.com in 2012 and was (rightfully) seen by readers as a spiritual sequel to NIGHTMARE WORLD. Image Comics would later release a 44-page one-shot/flip-book of two more original stories in this format under the moniker LOVE STORIES (TO DIE FOR) before all five stories would be collected (with extra content) in a TPB edition by Devil’s Due in 2017.
DIA DE LOS MUERTOS #1 (Image Comics/Shadowline)
- Artist Riley Rossmo decided to go what I playfully dubbed the “Reverse NIGHTMARE WORLD” approach for this excellent mini-series in which he contacted nine different writers and asked each one to write a story for him that focused on the Mexican “Day of the Dead” for him to illustrate. My story, “Te Vas Angel Mio” is the third and final story in the first issue and received a lot of praise from reviewers and critics as one of the strongest stories in not only the issue, but eventually the whole mini-series. You can hunt down this first issue if you wish, or purchase the complete DIA DE LOD MUERTOS collected series in one graphic novel.
CRITTER ANNUAL #1 (Big Dog Ink)
- I answered an “open call” style-submission to write a short story revolving around the supporting character “Charity” from Big Dog Ink’s superhero title CRITTER, with the end result being a rather chilling eight-page story that starts to shed some light on why the incredibly powerful superheroine in question does so little to help those most in need. Also of note is that this story marks the sequential art debut of frequent Big Dog Ink cover artist Jenevieve Broomall, which if my hunch is correct will make this quite the collector’s item sooner than later.
LOVE STORIES (TO DIE FOR) (Image Comics/Shadowline)
- After the success of the LOVE STORIES ABOUT DEATH 22-page stories we published online through the www.ShadowlineOnline.com website, Shadowline went ahead published a double-sized flip-book of two new stories in this format for print. The vampires vs. Vikings story “Bloodlust: Deceiver of the Gods” (illustrated by Rich Bonk and colored by Sean Burres) and the science-fiction romantic tragedy “Symptom of the Universe” (fully illustrated by Owen Gieni) were both stories very well received by readers, and the comic sold through its whole print run, making it a bonafide sell-out!
YOU ARE NOT ALONE (Grayhaven Comics)
- I was honored to rejoin many of my friends from Grayhaven Comics (as well as other facets of the comic industry) and contribute a short story titled “Think Twice” (expertly illustrated by Alejandro Aragon) to this Kickstarter-funded anthology meant to raise awareness about — and give support to — children and adults suffering from abuse, bullying, harassment, and other such difficult situations.
TALES OF MR. RHEE Volume 1: “Procreation (of the Wicked)” (Devil’s Due)
- Originally published as an online comic spin-off series of NIGHTMARE WORLD in 2010, 2014 was the year the original online TALES OF MR. RHEE series went to print via a very successful Kickstarter campaign run through Devil’s Due. Illustrated by Josh Ross with Austin McKinley and Sean Burres on gray-scaled colors, we were able to add a new prose story and a full-color multi-page character guide to the back of the book, which came with two different covers (one for the Kickstarter Exclusive Deluxe Hardcover and one for the mass-market TPB collection) by artist Riley Rossmo. Note that the first printing of the book was released in 2014 and is officially SOLD OUT, and that the second printing re;eased in 2015 (and all future printings) will feature the second cover, also by Riley Rossmo. Other than the covers the interiors are pretty-much identical.
THE LEGEND OF OZ: THE WICKED WEST #12-15 (Big Dog Ink)
- After working on the CRITTER Annual for Big Dog Ink I was asked what characters I would be interested in writing about for THE LEGEND OF OZ. I of course answered “The Flying Monkeys,” to which BDI replied “Everyone wants to do The Flying Monkeys.” I then told them my pitch… and had the contract a week later. The result was a four-issue run in which Dorthy’s position as the new Witch of the East and the West is explored concurrently as we learn the history of The Flying Monkeys she now has at her disposal. As far as I’m concerned artist Alison Borges did the best work of his career to date on these four issues, and I had a blast telling the story of these iconic characters… and planting seeds for more potential stories later, should I ever be invited to return to the series again at a later date.
MERCY SPARX #6-7 (Devil’s Due)
- I didn’t write so much as consult on these two issues of Josh Blaylock’s series about a devil girl who hunts rogue angels, as these two issues feature a crossover with Mr. Rhee and Charity from TALES OF MR. RHEE. Issue #7 also features my professional comic art debut, as I drew the picture of the monster Mr. Rhee shows to Mercy Sparx in a failed attempt to help her realize how much danger she’s in. Whether or not this will make the issue a “Collector’s Item” or will decreases the value of the book when compared to the rest of the run remains to be seen…
TALES OF MR. RHEE Volume 2: “Karmageddon” #1-4/TPB Collection (Devil’s Due)
- This sequel to TALES OF MR. RHEE: “Procreation (of the Wicked)” serves more as a prequel than a formal sequel, as it largely deals with what Mr. Rhee did during the infamous “Three Days of Darkness” and the ensuing Armageddon and Rapture (as seen in NIGHTMARE WORLD) as Mr. Rhee tries to protect five orphaned siblings from the demons, Cthulhu, and even dangers of a decidedly human nature. This series was masterfully illustrated by Seth Damoose with colors by Anthony D. Lee, and a cover by Eric Powell (THE GOON).
THEN IT WAS DARK (Peppermint Monster Press)
- THEN IT WAS DARK is a superb anthology in which editor Sarah Benkin asked over two dozen writers if they ever had a paranormal experience… and if so, if they’d be willing to write about it in comic script form so she could then arrange for a comic artist to illustrate it. The final result is an amazingly chilling book filled with real-life stories of supernatural events. My contribution, an eight-page story illustrated by Sires Jan Black is titled “I Ain’t Superstitious” and is a 100% true accounting of a ghostly experience I had in New Orleans. If you’re into true stories of the supernatural, you need this book!
UNLAWFUL GOOD (Dude, WHAT? Comics)
- UNLAWFUL GOOD is a crime-based anthology assembled by Heather Antos (now an Assistant Editor at Marvel Comics). My story in this volume, titled “Kingmakers” is worth getting your hands on not only because it was illustrated by my frequent collaborator Seth Damoose and colored by TARA NORMAL creator and friend Howie Noel, but also because it revisits one of my favorite minor characters from NIGHTMARE WORLD and shines the spotlight on him a bit in a mafia-based morality tale.
NOTHING CAN STOP ME NOW: Stories Inspired by the Songs of Nine Inch Nails (Spazdog Comics)
- Spearheaded by all-around swell fellow Shawn Demumbrum as a Kickstarter-based project, NOTHING CAN STOP ME NOW… is a fantastic hardcover anthology of stories all inspired by the songs of the legendary industrial pioneer(s) Nine Inch Nails. (Yes, yes, technically the band is really Trent Reznor and a bunch of various back-up musicians for the live shows… but credit where credit is due swings both ways, right?) Well, as fate would have it, several years ago myself and artist Mark Winters did a true crime/suspense story partially-inspired by a Nine Inch Nails song for the online syndication of NIGHTMARE WORLD that hadn’t seen print in the Image Comics collections. Since the original title for our story (“Happiness in Slavery”) was already taken by the time we approached Shawn about including our story in the book, a simple title tweak to “Just Like You Imagined” was all that was needed to bring this story to print in this must-own prestige format anthology.
IF… POWERS #1 (RIA Comics)
- Up-and-coming writer and publisher asked me to contribute a few stories to his new comic anthology that explores a world where almost everyone has superpowers, resulting in what remains one of the rarer books I have work in. Completists will want to hunt a copy of this book down (and, fair warning, I believe different “variants” may possibly have different stories despite them all being labeled “Issue #1”) because of my one-page story “Meanwhile, in the Sewers…” illustrated by Seth Damoose and the two page story “Children of the Sea” illustrated by John Marroquin. Both stories were colored by Anthony D. Lee, and it was fun to work with some of my favorite creators on some micro-fiction like this.
TALES OF MR. RHEE Volume 3: “Those Who Fight Monsters…” (Devil’s Due)
- Recently freed from his wrongful imprisonment by his arch-nemesis, Mr. Rhee must now decide who to trust in the New World Order. Should it be Brad Thomson, his demonic best friend who harbors a few dark secrets (and impulses) of his own, or Charity, the strong-willed member of The P.R.O.M.I.S.E. Group responsible for his rescue and salvation? Choices are made that have life-altering consequences for all involved in this third installment of the neo-noir series which now more than ever connects back to the events of NIGHTMARE WORLD in both format and story.
TOUCHING RHEEVIL: “Joe’s Doughnut” (Kickstarter Exclusive)
- Those who backed the TALES OF MR. RHEE Volume 3 Kickstarter campaign received, among their many Stretch Goals, this *Kickstarter Exclusive* comic which features a TALES OF MR. RHEE/TOUCHING EVIL crossover story written by me and illustrated by TOUCHING EVIL creator/writer/illustrator Dan Dougherty! (We also offered this comic with an alternate cover — the one that’s the back cover to this edition — as part of the TOUCHING EVIL Volume 1 Kickstarter campaign, as fair is fair, after all.) Will this story ever be reprinted? Maybe… maybe not… but one thing’s for sure: Those of you who have this edition of the comic have a true collector’s item that will never be reprinted in this format!
TARA NORMAL: “Season of Evil” (HCNoel Comics)
- Having been friends (and occasional collaborators) for several years by at this point, when Howie Noel decided to launch a TARA NORMAL anthology in 2016 he invited me to write a story for it. In news that should surprise no one, my story “God Hates a Coward” focuses on the secret origin of Tara’s sidekick Baby Cthulhu. This story is illustrated by Seth Damoose and colored by Howie Noel himself… and despite the playful nature of the character it gets a little dark. Again, go figure, eh? Something about the fun-loving Tara character brings out a certain darkness in me…
- (To be fair, in the original comic sequence I did for TARA NORMAL years ago she dreamed of her own murder…)
MARIACHI #1–#2 (El Arto)
- When Christopher Sanchez and John Marroquin of El Arto first told me about MARIACHI — the story of a Marichi player who comes back from the dead as a mustachioed skeleton in order to fight bad guys — I immediately told them I’d love to work on the book with them. Thankfully for all of us they agreed, and 2016 saw the release of the first two issues (first as a limited edition line-art only “Bare Bones” editions), and based on the overwhelmingly positive reviews we’re mow moving towards releasing the full six-issue series not in issues, but as one big ol’ graphic novel!
LOVE STORIES (TO DIE FOR) (Devil’s Due)
- Back in 2013 I released two stories from the then online-exclusive LOVE STORIES ABOUT DEATH online series as a double-sized one-shot flipbook through Image Comics/Shadowline, but the first week of 2017 saw the release of these two stories as well as the three that had never seen print in one gorgeous TPB collection, complete with a multi-page (and heartbreaking) prose story as well. Owen Gieni, Howie Noel, Rich Bonk & Sean Burres, Seth Damoose and Anthony D. Lee, and Anthony Peruzzo all did phenomenal work on their respective stories, and that cover by Nei Ruffino speaks for itself. The genre-hopping and complete self-contained nature of the five full-length stories in this collection make it the perfect introduction to my work, and the perfect book to read (and/or re-read) on a rainy day or a Saturday evening alone…
NIGHTMARE WORLD Volume 4: “The Mourning After” (Devil’s Due)
- Real talk, friends: This one feels pretty darn good. Five years after the last TPB collection first saw print and fifteen years after the series debuted as a self-published online series, at long last the NIGHTMARE WORLD series concludes in one final collection of 13 stand-alone yet interlocking stories that — yes — really are worth the wait. Shakespeare, Kaiju, aliens, Cthulhu, and more haunt the pages if this final collection that wraps-up NIGHTMARE WORLD and officially, definitively, paves the way for all that comes next in TALES OF MR. RHEE…