Review by Hailey Austin
Dark Horse’s anthology centres around compelling tales of relationships, love, sex, and dating from artists and writers from diverse backgrounds, identities, and orientations. It expands upon the hit The Secret Loves of Geek Girls, opening the subject matter to anything relating to geeks and the various, compelling ways in which they love. Whether it’s loving a specific show/comic/story, other humans, or themselves, this book shares honest stories from complex people in diverse situations. But one of the ideas it promotes is that love is central to what it is to being human, and it should be celebrated in all of its various iterations.
The Secret Loves of Geeks consists of prose stories and comics, and some beautiful combinations of the two. Some comics that stand out in the anthology include Letty Wilson’s ‘Smudged’ which details the main character’s experience with a-sexuality and the ways in which close friendships have helped her gain confidence and lessen her concerns. The art is beautiful with a great eye for colour, prioritising vivid shades of reds and blacks. The feelings of alienation she describes are brilliantly augmented by the anthropomorphic nature of the characters. The creator casts herself as an anthropomorphic toad, while her friends are deer, felines, alligators, etc. The five pages are an excellent example of love in friendships and the ways in which art and comics can help people begin to address their anxieties.
‘So Say We All’ by Levi Hastings describes the influence of Battlestar Gallactica on his life and relationship after the show was introduced to him by a boyfriend. He parallels his growing love of the show with his growing love of his boyfriend, although later reveals their relationship did not work out. Hastings then details the ways in which rewatching Battlestar Gallactica revealed deeper themes of loss that helped him in the grieving process. It beautifully articulates the ways in which geeky television shows can have deeper meanings relevant to the viewer for different reasons at different parts of their lives.
Some notable works that effectively combine prose with comics include Gerard Way and Robert Wilson IV’s untitled work that is a self-referential, Scott Mccloud-like comic essay. It questions the comic’s own artistic representation of the ways in which one’s mind’s eye creates action in your head. Similarly, Sfé R. Monster’s ‘Tell Me About Your Trans Headcanons’ is told in an amazing combination of words and illustrations. The unique approach doesn’t quite use panels, but has images alongside the story of the creator reading various geeky characters as trans characters and the way it empowered them.
A notable prose story is Speranza’s ‘What Girls Want’. It beautifully blends meme-culture, women’s desires in real life as well as geek life, and cites literary works like Virginia Woolf as well as online articles to back up her findings. It is a well-written, relevant piece of writing that maps out what women want through their creation of memes and snowclones. She ends with the powerful message that if you want to know what women want, you should simply ask them. They would be happy to tell you.
The Secret Loves of Geeks brings together dozens of writers and artists to tell stories of relationships, love, heartbreak, and everything in between from people that call themselves geeks. It draws on themes of inclusion and loving everything that makes people uniquely geeky in their own way, and as such is a resounding success.