Master of suspense: Dirk Manning brings new volume of ‘Mr. Rhee’ to KickstarterWritten by Jeff McGinnis | | firstname.lastname@example.org
It’s a good thing that horror/comic book writer Dirk Manning is a master of the unexpected. He’s faced a good deal of it in the past few weeks — but all of it has been of the decidedly joyful variety.
It was just two weeks ago when Manning launched his latest effort on Kickstarter, a fundraiser to create a second graphic novel of his popular comic series “The Tales of Mr. Rhee,” published through Devil’s Due Entertainment.
“‘Tales of Mr. Rhee’ is a series about a paranormal troubleshooter,” Manning said in an interview with Toledo Free Press. “He lives in a world after the armageddon/rapture has happened, and society has rebuilt. Everything is seemingly back to normal. But Mr. Rhee is a character who knows there are still monsters left. Society chooses to kind of ignore that fact … or chooses not to believe that. Until something comes up, and then you need a guy like Mr. Rhee to come in and kind of clean up the mess.”
Manning has made a name for himself with these kinds of macabre tales for years now, whether it be his wildly popular anthology horror series “Nightmare World,” his stint writing the origin of the flying monkeys in the comic series “Legends of Oz: Wicked West,” his horror/romance compilation “Love Stories to Die For” and much more. He sees Rhee’s adventures, especially this second volume, subtitled “Karmageddon,” as something that draws from his experiences with all his work.
“With ‘Tales of Mr. Rhee,’ I guess we have a combination of everything I’ve done so far. We have the very strong world-building of ‘Nightmare World,’ combined with long-form character development, as it relates to Mr. Rhee.
“‘Karmageddon’ is actually a sequel and a prequel to the first volume. ‘Karmageddon’ does start with a look at where Mr. Rhee is now, after the cliffhanger ending of Vol. 1. We do touch on, OK, how do we get out of that mess? But then the rest of the story is largely about what Mr. Rhee did during the three days of the armageddon. So the main story is actually a prequel story.”
But creating a deluxe, special edition of a work can be expensive, even for an author with a loyal fan base. So about a year ago, Manning turned to Kickstarter in an effort to produce a hardcover collection of the first volume of “Rhee,” a campaign that succeeded with room to spare.
“One of the things I wanted to do is offer readers … a chance to have a deluxe edition of the book, and get some really cool extras on the side. And Kickstarter allows you to do that,” Manning said.
That philosophy has carried over into this most recent fundraiser, as Manning aimed to bring readers a special hardcover edition of “Karmageddon,” while still producing a paperback edition to be sold in comic shops. In addition, though, fans who invested a little more could get some unusual gifts.
“And that’s the thing that’s really cool to be able to do for people who are really into the series, to get this cool, exclusive edition of the book, with all these exclusive extras.
“We also did something with this edition of the campaign we didn’t do last time. People can actually buy their way into Vol. 3 as a main character for a full issue, they can be killed in one of the issues or have a cameo role. And that’s the highest honor, for a horror fan that’s the highest honor, to be killed in a book.”
The end result has been more successful than Manning could have ever dreamed, thanks to fans who have congregated on a Facebook group called “The F(r)iends of Dirk Manning Support Group” and elsewhere. “Between that and then just assembling a good, old-fashioned mailing list — I go to all these shows, I get myself a binder, a tablet or whatever, they can just write in their email — and I started my mailing list right before the campaign started, a couple thousand people, and this very dedicated group on Facebook.
“And what happened is, when we launched the campaign, it’s just nuts, man,” he said. “We had a goal of $6,666. We surpassed that goal in under eight hours, which is wild, man. I’m just blown away.”
Manning’s F(r)iends were not done, either. After another push to garner donations before Feb. 13 — Friday the 13th, naturally — the total donated stands at well over $13,000, with two weeks left.
Manning is not slowing down in the weeks to come, either. He has tons of appearances at conventions booked in the coming days, from Great Lakes Comic-Con in Warren, Michigan, on Feb. 28 to Animarathon XIII at Bowling Green State University on March 21. He also has signed a deal for a second volume of his guide to writers, “Write or Wrong.”
But for longtime fans of Manning’s work, the most exciting news may be the culmination and climax of one of his most popular works — one which he teases as only a master of suspense can.
“There’s this other franchise book I have, that has three volumes out there, and people have been begging for a fourth and final volume for a while,” Manning said. “And if this Kickstarter continues to do as well as it is, I see no reason why we can’t, at long last, bring it home.”
For more information on the “Tales of Mr. Rhee” fundraiser, visit the Kickstarter page at: http://kck.st/1BrrLq9.