Putting Butts In The Seats: Tony Schiavone & Dirk Manning Kickstart Their Graphic Novel Dream

Tony Schiavone and Dirk Manning have yet to actually meet in person, but the dynamic duo behind Schiavone’s new graphic novel biography has been toiling away in their respective Batcaves in effort of making this story a halftone reality.

For over a year, Manning and Schiavone have been hashing out the intricacies of Butts In The Seats: The Tony Schiavone Story, a “ten-chapter graphic novel retrospective of Tony’s whole life and career.” Written by Dirk Manning with Tony Schiavone, each chapter is illustrated by a different artist that was handpicked to best portray that stage of Tony’s life and career in and out of professional wrestling. Schiavone and Manning sat down with WrestleZone’s Dominic DeAngelo to talk about how they began backing to “Butts In The Seats” on Kickstarter and how the two comic fans from two very different worlds began their superhero-like crossover. It all started with “The Gimmick Attorney” Mike Dockins.

“Tony and I’ve never met in person yet,” said Manning (author of Tales Of Mr. Rhee & Nightmare World) “Everything’s been virtual so far (you can tell he’s very heartbroken about that), but originally, I think Mike’s plan was for me and Tony to meet at C2E2 this past year and I had a situation that came up very last minute, first time in history that I missed a show, so instead Mike Dockins gives me a call and says, ‘Hey how would you feel about doing a graphic novel with Tony Schiavone?’ And I said, ‘Okay! Well, yeah, let’s have that meeting.”

Schiavone, who has always been an avid comic book reader, explained why telling his story in graphic novel form seemed like the appropriate fit for the current voice of All Elite Wrestling rather than the extensive work that came with scribing a biography.

“I had talked to a few people about doing a book, and realized by talking to some friends, a book puts in a lot of work, takes a lot of effort, a lot of work—[Jim Ross] and The [Young] Bucks would certainly tell you that. Writing a book about never did seem to resonate with me because I’m not the type of guy, at least I’ve never been the type of guy, that likes to even sit down and tell my story.

I like to just remain one of those guys that puts over those other guys and talks about wrestling. And ‘The Tony Schiavone Story’… ‘eh, okay’ it bores me, so I thought it would bore everybody else, but when Mike Dockins said ‘comic book’ and I grew up loving comic books, loving superheroes then all of a sudden a light went off. I said, ‘Yeah, let’s talk about this and let’s do it,’ and when I found out that the only thing that I really had to put into it was just to sit down and tell my story on Zoom to a group of people, a couple I’ve never met before like Dirk and Drena Jo, I thought, ‘Yeah, let’s give it a shot!'”

Schiavone is specific in saying that while ‘Butts In The Seats’ has some aspects of his personal life, it is mainly focused on his story around the squared circle.

The Kickstarter, which ends Friday, April 16 at noon EST, has rocked wrestling and comic fandom by blowing way past its initial goal by achieving over $120,000 to support the project. Whether it’s $1 or the “‘Elite’ VIP Experience” from a $2,000 contribution, there’s still plenty of incentive to give to the cause as you can help the project reach a new stretch goal, and secure your own trade paperback or special edition hardcover version of the book – secure your copy here!

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Plenty more to come from this conversation as Schiavone talks about what AEW talents share in his comic fandom, Dirk details his knowledge of comics from all types of writers and Tony explains how Batman makes a great babyface!

Transcription credit should go to @DominicDeAngelo of WrestleZone