As we announced in 2016, The Secret Loves of Geeks is coming from Dark Horse Comics this Valentine's Day. The follow-up to the smash hit The Secret Loves of Geek Girls, this new anthology features comics, illustrated stories, and prose from all kinds of incredible creators including Dylan Edwards, Peaches Cortes, Dr. Nerdlove, Cara Ellison, Terry Blas, and Amanda Deibert among others. To commemorate the release of this inclusive and adventurous celebration of fandom, I talked with Vita Ayala, Amy Chu, Gabby Rivera, and MariNaomi, who all have new stories in The Secret Loves of Geeks.
Curated by Hope Nicholson, the collection focuses on creators' favorite things and how they interact with them. The creators I spoke to were excited about the stories for myriad reasons. For Amy Chu, it was all about collaboration, saying she leaped at "the chance to work on a story with my friend Val Delandro. I've so admired his work with Bitch Planet and he's just straight up one of the best people in comics today." Gabby Rivera found the anthology "offered me the opportunity to write about love, sex, and self-discovery. So of course, I had to dive into what I went through as a forever awkward chubby queer Latina teen. By sharing my story with Secret Loves, I could flip the stereotypes of what geeks look like or who 'gets' to be one."
All of the creators I spoke to chose to tell personal stories about their experiences with certain parts of geekdom. For MariNaomi, this meant exploring romantic entanglement and fandom. "Back before I met my husband, a writer I was (and am) a huge fan of asked me out. I was totally starstruck and had a great time with him, except when we encountered his other fans, who would disregard my presence when they gushed over him. This was especially annoying when fangirls would flirt shamelessly with him. He was the perfect gentleman and would extricate himself as gracefully as possible, but even so, it was an uncomfortable dating situation," MariNaomi explained.
Chu's story ties to her experience with computer programming. "It's an autobiographical snippet of being female at MIT back in the day when it was more of a rarity," Chu told me. And for Gabby Rivera, this meant exploring queerness and the internet. "My submission is about how dial-up internet made me gay. So now you just gotta read it," Rivera laughed.
When it comes to creating stories for anthologies, it can be a completely different process than writing a comic books series or a graphic novel. Ayala said it's all about getting to the core of the story. "Mostly I cut away a lot of build up, if the story is fictional, or any sort of lead up, if it is nonfiction. Just get to the heart of the matter, so to speak," Ayala explained.
MariNaomi said she had to consider working within the space constraints. "Everything has to be explained and wrapped up in a few pages for a short story--there's little room to get to know the characters or play around with pacing. The short story is a lot quicker to draw, which is really the best thing about it as a creator," Marinomi shared.
We've been excited to revisit the world of Secret Loves since the book was announced last year, and it isn't just us. MariNaomi, Ayala, Rivera, and Chu are all clearly exhilarated to be involved in the project. "I'm most excited for readers to get caught up in the love and humor embedded in the anthology. Hope really put the best loving energy into this project. I felt it working with her and I know it shines through," Rivera confessed.
Chu sees one major reason readers should grab the book. "Well, the diversity of talent of course. And I'm really excited that readers who don't normally pick up comics and graphic novels may be reading it and maybe they'll get turned on to comics," she said.
The diversity of creators and story in this anthology is clearly something meaningful not just to Chu but to everyone involved. "I love how diverse all the stories in the book are, thematically and in presentation. That's something that is often missing in current anthologies--if there's a theme, people sometimes stick too closely to it so that the reader feels like they're reading the same story again and again. Not so with this book. Hope did a wonderful job curating and editing," MariNaomi told Nerdist.
Adding to that, Ayala found it was "important to be able to take the positive lessons from these experiences, to look back and be able to remember all the wonderful little things about each of the loves that I included here. Some ended well, others didn't, and yet others were one-sided, but I wanted to get at the things about being in love that help you love better. Also that love sometimes means different things, depending on the person you're in love with."
Rivera also had one last important message about The Secret Loves of Geeks and the message of inclusion that this anthology sends. "Geeks are not just straight kids or white kids. Geeks are Puerto Rican. Geeks are disabled. Geeks are nonbinary. Geeks should stick up for each other. Always."
The Secret Loves of Geeks is available on February 14.
Images: Dark Horse Comics
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