Are you looking forward to a new comic book but it’s impossible for you to wait for its release before you know what we thought about it? That’s why there’s DoomRocket’s Advanced Reviews — now we assess books you can’t even buy yet. This week: ‘The Secret Loves of Geeks’#1, out this Valentine’s Day from Dark Horse Comics.

Cover to 'The Secret Loves of Geeks'. Art by Becky Cloonan/Dark Horse Comics

Cover to ‘The Secret Loves of Geeks’. Art by Becky Cloonan/Dark Horse Comics

By Kaitlin Beer. In the foreword to The Secret Loves of Geeks, Chris Roberson mentions the defining essence behind the entire anthology: “Representation matters and stories are important.

For readers, especially younger readers, that serves as an introduction to topics regarding sexuality, love, and relationships. For some of them, the 200 pages of comics and prose detailing personal stories might be difficult to read when the protagonist experiences shame and loneliness while confronting their idea of love. Never fear, however; the sadness is counter-balanced by people finding themselves with the help of — if the title of this anthology wasn’t already a giveaway — nerd stuff. Story after story laces together memories; mine, yours, everybody’s. The Secret Love of Geeks explores emotions with a wink to geek culture that could warm even the most curmudgeonly heart.

The art throughout the anthology provides physical representations that give the reader a chance to see themselves (and others) within the stories. The story by Sfé R. Monster (Beyond: The Queer Sci-Fi & Fantasy Comic Anthology), “Tell Me About Your Trans Headcanons”, stood out as one of the stories that took advantage of the graphic medium in this respect. To illustrate familiar characters with trans identities in the story was genius.

My two favorites were comics by Marley Zarcone (Shade: the Changing Girl) and Jen Vaughn (Deadwater). That these two were my favorite pieces highlights the ethos of the book; I like them most because I can see myself in them. Zarcone’s “Gaming Is Bad For Me” shows someone who falls too hard into playing Fallout New Vegas at the expense of reality. (Something that hit a bit too close to home for me; I once was so exhausted from gaming that I reached forward to hit the fast-forward button during class after a Sims binge). Vaughn’s “The New Gods of the Airwaves” illustrates my favorite Dungeons & Dragons podcast character (shout-out to The Adventure Zone’s Taako).

Reading the foreword on the importance of representation only to then find yourself (or your interests) within the pages gives the reader a potent experience, a reminder of what it feels like to relate to another person or character on an intimate level (or, sadly, how it feels when you don’t). Even brief mentions of someone in comics with analogous experiences and interests can make you feel less scared of your passions or even lack thereof, as J.P. Laroque’s (Gay Nerds) “Love in Alderaan Places” suggests.

Intellectually, people understand that representation is a huge part of bolstering personal validity, but The Secret Loves of Geeks doesn’t take this for granted. It goes out of its way to provide lovely examples of how being included and represented can make someone (especially a young someone) feel comfortable in their own skin.

Dark Horse Comics/ $14.99

Written by Margaret Atwood, Vita Ayala, Gwen Benaway, Terry Blas, Kristian Bruun, Cecil Castellucci, Amy Chu, Christina “Peaches” Cortez, Amanda Deibert, Ryan Dunlavey, Dylan Edwards, Cara Ellison, Shauna J. Grant, Levi Hastings, Tini Howard, Priya Huq, Jessi Jordan, Megan Kearney, Maia Kobabe, JP Laroque, Hope Larson, H-P Lehkonen, MariNaomi, Diana McCallum, Jamie McKelvie, Sfé R. Monster, Saadia Muzaffar, Hope Nicholson, Harris O’Malley, Shee Phon, Gabby Rivera, Chris Roberson, Patrick Rothfuss, Ivan Salazar, Dana Claire Simpson, Speranza, Jen Vaughn, Gerard Way, Katie West, Letty Wilson, and Marley Zarcone.

Art by Vita Ayala, Gwen Benaway, Terry Blas, Maddison Chaffer, Christina “Peaches” Cortez, Valentine De Landro, Ryan Dunlavey, Dylan “NDR” Edwards, Shauna J. Grant, Maddi Gonzalez, Levi Hastings, Priya Huq, Jessi Jordan, Megan Kearney, Maia Kobabe, H-P Lehkonen, MariNaomi, Jamie McKelvie, Sfé R. Monster, Shee Phon, Dana Claire Simpson, Cat Staggs, Jen Vaughn, Letty Wilson, Robert Wilson IV, Marley Zarcone.

Inks by Michael Walsh.

Colors by Jordie Bellaire, Kelly Fitzpatrick.

Letters by Ryan Ferrier.

Cover by Becky Cloonan.

Edited by Hope Nicholson.

8 out of 10

‘The Secret Loves of Geeks’ will make you swoon this Valentine’s Day.