‘The Secret Loves Of Geeks’ Is A Book That Shouldn’t Stay A Secret

by Rachel Bellwoar

For fans of The Secret Loves of Geek Girls comes another personal, romance anthology edited by Hope Nicholson. Switching back and forth between comics and essays, The Secret Loves of Geeks includes contributions from Gabby Rivera (America), Marley Zarcone (Shade the Changing Girl), Gerard Way (Doom Patrol), and Tini Howard (Assassinistas), among others. Here’s some of what’s in store for readers of this collection: 

In her essay, “We Will Never Be Back Here Again,” Saadia Muzaffar tries approaching a new relationship without learning anything about her match that could fuel a Google search. Honest about her reservations, striking ahead doesn’t mean you stop questioning each move along the way.

In “The Horror, The Horror,” Margaret Atwood (The Handmaiden’s Tale) talks about growing up loving horror while presenting as someone parents could trust to babysit their kids. The idea being horror fans can’t possibly be normal, Atwood proves this wrong with a sidesplitting deadpan that leaves young children questioning whether they’ve heard her right when she sings, “Hush little children / Don’t you cry / Mother’s gonna bring you a / pecked-out eye.”

Parents might not reconcile the teenage girl with the horror fan, but Atwood knows the error of pushing people into boxes, while Michael Walsh’s line art sells the joke by drawing Margaret like she’s Wendy from Peter Pan. Jordie Bellaire’s colors hint at something sinister, but when it’s dark, your eyes can always carry the blame.

I’ve never lied about loving Star Wars like JP Larocque, but I can relate to his essay, “Love In Alderaan Places,” and saying things in the moment that aren’t actually true. Mostly I’ve claimed to enjoy TV shows I don’t like, but even when the other person hasn’t found out, it’s bothered me afterwards. Larocque’s voice betrays his comedy background, and when he writes, “The banter was 50% Whedon, 30% Sherman-Palladino, 20% Kevin Williamson,” you can understand why he tried to stick things out.

In Deceptively Normal, Dana Simpson and her husband share the story of how they met over dinner, but make a conscious decision not to tell the short version for a change. I love how Simpson has people pegged in this comic, from the other couple showing no change, whether Simpson sums things up in a sentence or gives a detailed rendition. How they’re not enamored by Simpson’s sense of humor beats me, but her misjudged attempts at denial are especially endearing, as they do the opposite of their intended effect, and draw more attention.

Being able to see your yourself in pop culture matters and many of the stories in this anthology are about identifying with characters from movies, books, and TV. Like Harry Potter, Amanda Deibert knows what it’s like to grow up a wizard among muggles in her comic, “Harry Potter and the Awkward Coming Out Story.” Cat Staggs is responsible for the art and her faith in faces being able to convey every emotion proves well-earned.

It’s not unlike the impact of Levi Hasting‘s color scheme in “Say We All,” a comic where discovering Battlestar Galactica is bonded with the memory of a past relationship, or Gwen Benaway‘s kinship to Buffy’s acceptance of destiny in her essay, “Being the Slayer: Buffy the Vampire Slayer and the Burden of Trans Girlhood.”

Instead of spotting parallels to her life in pop culture, Hope Larson finds she’s living a movie romance in her essay, “Cosplay.” Reading this story as non-fiction is a welcome turn of events, with Larson just as surprised as readers to learn this happens off-screen — “The whole night was beginning to feel unreal, a thirty-something mash-up of American Graffiti and Before Sunrise.”

MariNomi comes up with clever ways to use a pictogram star in “Star Struck,” a comic about her time dating a famous poet. Meeting at a party, MariNomi has stars in her eyes, and the ending sees the concept come to full, hilarious fruition.

In the end, though, there’s nothing quite like bringing two loves together (Shauna J. Grant sharing role-play with her boyfriend in “Our Story”) and while not every tale has a ‘happily ever after,’ sometimes ‘happy once’ is enough.

The Secret Loves of Geeks was released this week on Valentine’s Day, February 14th, 2018 by Dark Horse.