John D. Ruddy
Actor and illustrator John D. Ruddy and his wee creation, Manny Man, have become You Tube sensations.
John’s You Tube channel – filled with his hand-drawn and narrated history videos – has racked up more than eight million views from fans around the globe.
Now the Letterkenny man is bringing the star of his videos, Manny Man, to the printed page, with his new book, “Manny Man Does the History of Ireland” (The Collins Press, 2016).
The book will be launched next week at the Regional Cultural Centre in Letterkenny. Author, actor and educator Kieran Kelly will be guest speaker at the launch, which begins at 7pm.
John called the new book, “the culmination of years of working on Manny Man”, and a project that evolved from his earlier work, “Manny Man Does Shakespeare” and his many history videos.
The popular Manny Man videos encapsulate signal events in history with a clear, wry eye and colourful illustrations. Among them are “World War I in Six Minutes”, which has received more than two million views; “World War II in Seven Minutes”, with nearly 1.9 million views; “The Cold War in Nine Minutes”, more than 1.2 million views; and “The French Revolution in Nine Minutes”, more than 560,000 views.
John’s Irish history videos include “The Easter Rising in Eight Minutes”, with more than 291,000 views; and “Irish History in Six Minutes”, which led to the book.
The book tells the story in more detail: Because a video requires fewer scripted lines, If the text and images in the six-minute video had been transcribed directly to the page, “you’d have a 10-page book,” John said.
He was happy for the opportunity to expand on his storytelling.
”That was something I was really passionate about, telling the story and having a through line of how one thing leads to the next,” he said. He describes his approach to these connections in his introduction to the book: "I try to find the story within history. The cause and effect. The chain reaction. The ripples turning into waves as they push out from an event into the future."
John said, “There’s no such thing as an isolated incident in history.”
And without taking away from the seriousness of many of the events John’s videos and his book illustrate, there is often a playful tone to his work as well. Collins Press said John, “brings history to life with clarity and hilarity”,
A former teacher himself, John has heard from teachers across Ireland and farther who use his videos in their classes. “I’m getting a great response,” he said. “Kids love them. They work as a really good introduction and also as a really good revision.”
He said his book is geared to readers age 10 and up and has something for all ages. “History buffs will enjoy the tongue-in-cheek humour with things they are familiar with already,” John said. He said readers unfamiliar with the story will appreciate the very straightforward explanations.
”I’m trying to make it as approachable as possible and as kind of light-hearted as possible,” John said.
“Manny Man Does the History of Ireland”, is available in bookshops and from www.collinspress.ie.