South Shore resident realizes dream in graphic novel
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. – Meet South Shore’s resident Crypt Keeper, Jared Manninen.
The 36-year-old doesn’t throw around puns like the ghoulish character from the “Tales from the Crypt” comic books of the 1940’s and 50’s, but he did draw inspiration from the book’s horror stories for his first graphic novel.
Manninen released the horror-themed, self-published “Gruesome Tales to Tickle Your Terror Bone,” in March after training as a fine artist and a spending a lifetime fascinated with comic books. And, like “Tales from the Crypt’s” EC comics, the six short stories in “Gruesome Tales” include some sort of social commentary and a twist ending.
For Manninen, completing his first graphic novel was the twist to getting laid off from a job writing newsletters for a nonprofit group in Carson Valley. He’d been putting off publishing a book for years.
“This was a dream I always wanted to do since I was a kid,” Manninen said, noting his love affair with comics started with the self-described “gateway drug” of the muscle-bound super hero genre.
Manninen estimates he put 2,000 hours of work into “Gruesome Tales,” with much of the time fraught with the stumbling blocks of figuring out exactly how to move a graphic novel from idea to print.
The Michigan native’s process is decidedly hands on. “Gruesome Tales” is composed of three different types of media: markers, acrylic paints and black ink. Computers only make an appearance near the end of the process for minor adjustments and when the whole package is ready to be sent to the printers.
“For a one man show, it’s difficult work,” Manninen said. “I couldn’t have done this if I’d been working 40 hours a week.”
The charm of the graphic novel for the former U.S. Marine is in the interplay of words and pictures, Manninen said.
“I just like how you can texture a story on so many different levels,” Manninen said.
One level of the graphic novel experience Manninen wasn’t prepared for was the actual publication. So, he joined forces with Joe Daley, who he met while serving in the U.S. Marine Corps in 1995 to form Makoto Press in 2010. The partnership’s resulted in the publication of 1,000 copies of “Gruesome Tales” March 20.
And now that the leg work of figuring out just how to publish a graphic novel is finished, Manninen is preparing two other projects covering distinctly different ground.
One project, tentatively-titled “Letters to My Father” will be set around Manninen’s experience hiking the Appalachian Trail in 1999. The second, “Odyssey of the Damned,” is a science-fiction/horror story centered around one man’s search for redemption in a post-apocalyptic world.
Manninen said he’s looking forward to spending more time on the creative process, rather than figuring out the nuts and bolts of putting a book together.
“For me it was a commitment to execute something to the end,” Manninen said about “Gruesome Tales.”