May 07, 2014 - For graphic novelist Shaun Manning, growing up in Clarkston built a foundation for a career in comics.
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"My teachers included David Bihl – he was an unconventional teacher at Clarkston High School," said Manning, who graduated from Clarkston High School in 1998. "Linda Denstadt was one of my English teachers. I didn't appreciate it at the time, but she gave me the idea that it was OK to tell stories."
His first hardcover original graphic novel, Interesting Drug, will be released on May 28 at comics retailers, book stores, and on Amazon. In the sci-fi thriller, illustrated by Anna Wieszczyk, the titular drug sends its user back in time.
"I’ve always been interested in time travel," he said. "I thought of time travel as organic, something in the body, instead of a thing like a time machine."
Now they're working to prepare for a book tour and conventions to spread the word. To get their feet wet, they went to a smaller convention last year in Cincinnati.
"Lots of learning behind the booth, interacting with people," he said. "It’s hard. You’re out there trying to draw attention. People are leery, they don’t know you."
They went to C2E2 in Chicago, and plan to go to Phoenix Comic Con in June.
"Get the book into people’s hand," he said. "We're hoping, once people see it, to be able to build momentum."
He grew up reading comics, starting with superheroes and expanding into other genres.
"You can tell any genre of story in the comics medium," he said.
He went to Clarkston Elementary and Clarkston Middle School, and met his wife, Truly Render, at Clarkston High.
"Growing up in Clarkston, it was a good mix of people, a good foundation growing up," said Manning, who is still close friends with classmates from high school.
He graduated with an English degree from Hillsdale College in 2001; and Glasgow University with a Master's Degree in 2007. He lives in Ann Arbor with his wife and their daughter Lila, and works at the University of Michigan Press as academic marketing manager.
With his English degree and working full time, he started his comics career writing scripts for graphic novels, and comic and convention reviews for websites.
"I met a lot of good people there, it put in the middle of the scene," he said. "Comics have been good to me – I’d love to do this full time. I'm very fortunate, my professional life is around books and publications."
His book tour includes a local stop at 7 p.m., June 27, at LA Café, 5815 Dixie Highway, where he spent summers in college working as a barista.
For more info, check blog.shaunmanning.com.
Phil is editor for The Clarkston News. He is a veteran of the first Iraq war, having served in the U.S. Army.