Hope Nicholson is hoping to turn the topic of romance on it’s head with a frank and sometimes humorous look at the topic with a comics and prose anthology called THE SECRET LOVES OF GEEK GIRLS. We took the time to ask Hope about what lead this this unique collection, currently seeking funding through Kickstarter, that features creators such as Margret Atwood, Kath Leth, Tini Howard, Sam Maggs and more.
Jessica Boyd: Readers hear the words “romance comics/story” and automatically think of happily ever after that ends with wedding bells. How does “The Secret Loves of Geek Girls” challenge this perspective?
Hope Nicholson: Many of the stories in this collection don’t end with happily ever after. In fact one of them in particular “They Bury you in White” deals with the author having a lifelong fear of happily ever after. Since that’s when the story ends! Some of these stories are about relationships that didn’t make it, others are about the joys found in long-term relationships well after the happily ever after moment. Our stories don’t end though, they just keep going.
JB: Just to clarify for readers, this isn’t the type of book that screams, “Love stinks!” As the editor and contributor, how do you strike a balance between candid conversations about sexuality and experience (or experiences yet to be had) and hope about romance?
HN: I had few limits on the type of content that people could write about but the most important thing I wanted to stress was audience. This isn’t us talking to men, it’s us talking to each other. And I find when we let go of that we want to tell positive stories! Some are warnings and lessons, they’re not all happy, but most are. It’s more about acceptance of whatever experiences negative and positive, that we have had in love.
HN: I used to be working towards being a tv producer and at one point was pitching a docuseries about geek girls in Toronto. We met up, filmed a few segments, ate pizza and had an absolutely amazing time. I had commissioned a one-piece art for the project featuring several of the ladies and it was called Secret Lives of Nerd Girls. When the file came to me though the artist Adam Gorham had made a typo and it was called secretloves.jpg
So…! That just kept lingering in my head and whenever I went and saw the file I was reminded of that and kept thinking that it would make a better project.
JB: You have a wide variety of contributors to this anthology? What steps did you take to include a diverse set of creators?
HN: I kept an eye on the makeup of the contributors and approached those who would be able to tell a diverse range of stories whose writing styles I liked. In addition I also made the public notice that I would accept pitches from anyone, knowing that my own social pool is likely to be limited. I’ve had some concerns submitted to me that the cover doesn’t reflect a very diverse group.
Which I found strange because there is a senior woman, a palestinian woman, and two queer women who work in the nude industry on the cover! It is black and white right now so I understand why the age and race of the participants wasn’t apparent, but I found it odd how many people wanted to assume it was not diverse rather than asking first.
A lot of diversity is invisible, but I also didn’t want to send a survey out to ask how people identify or create a checklist of diversity attributes. I think in the end it is a very diverse selection though, and it would have been very boring to create an anthology from a group of women who all come from the same life experiences.
HN: Well I have a few contributors who are coming from a completely different generation. There is a young girl named Natalie Smith who I follow on twitter after she expressed interest in my Nelvana project (or after me and Gerard Way had a geek out about the Phoenix? I’m not sure) she’s likely the youngest contributor, and her experiences growing up completely with technology seems like it would be starkly different than say Trina Robbins who for most of her life social media is new to (though she’s adapted to it like a fish to water!). But I know from talking and following both of them that really, the experiences and the situations of romance and dating haven’t changed that much over the decades. That bonding together across the generations is something that I’m really excited to see.
JB: Do you think such a frank and honest book could help others?
HN: I hope so! I know that in the essay I’m writing it’s about a situation that I was sure was completely and utterly unique to me – until I got the guts up to start talking about it with other people and more and more people were excited to reveal that they were in the same boat! I think just knowing other people have gone through similar, or at least that there is a huge range of experiences is helpful.
JB: What has been one of the most rewarding moments of working on this book so far?
HN: I’ve been getting a lot of comments of ‘you should back Hope’s kickstarters because she always makes good products’ and it’s an easy and comfortable assessment of my abilities that is completely new to me. The thing about respect is that when it’s truly earned, it’s invisible, people count on you to just know that you’re doing well and are liked/admired. But really I have no idea and the amount of positive feedback that’s been flowing from the internet has been really really gratifying. And makes me want to keep doing more projects!
JB: For those who want the cut and dry details approximately how many comics and/or illustrations are included in the over 200 pages of material?
HN: There’s roughly 41 contributors, though this can fluctuate as people may leave due to deadlines or new contributors added. Of those about 17-19 are visual based comics or illustrated stories.
JB: How can people contribute?
HN: They can go to secretloves.ca to pledge to the Kickstarter, or if they lack funds but want to show their enthusiasm, just sharing the link on twitter, facebook, tumblr is a great way to do so!
JB: Is there anything else you’d like Comicosity readers to know?
HN: I think that there are always more stories that need to be told and this collection barely breaks the ice. All of the projects I do are done in the aim of revealing bits about the world that we’ve lost, forgotten, or never noticed. If you have a story like that, or an idea that would be best shared, then I encourage you to step forward if you see a project where it can work, or if that’s not possible, branching out and reaching people on your own!
JB: Thank you so much for taking time to chat!