By ABBY MORIARTY, Staff
Award winning writer, illustrator, animal-lover, and feminist zinester, Nicole Georges, captivated students with the live reading of her debut graphic novel, “Calling Dr. Laura” Wednesday night at the University of New Hampshire.
Sophomore Alexa Wheeler, art and lecture director for the Memorial Union Student Organization (MUSO), was the driving force behind the event held at the MUB, along with funding from the Student Activity Fee Committee.
Wheeler said she felt it was important to bring Georges here to speak to students and share her life experiences as a professional cartoonist.
“A feminist graphic novelist is not always a perspective you get, especially when you’re thinking about graphic novels, it’s a lot of men, a lot of men drawing weird, gross pictures of women,” Wheeler said. “Nicole is a pioneer in her field and a great speaker.”
Georges, born in a small town in Kansas, began her drawing career as a young child and has been publishing her own zines and comics depicting her life events for almost 20 years now. Although she did not always believe herself to have a true talent while in high school, she has persevered to become a renowned illustrator.
“I thought comics were all super hero comics back then, I tried to draw like that and it didn’t work, so I was like, ‘I guess I just can’t draw comics then,’ so I stopped for awhile,” Georges said.
”I would hire other people to draw pictures for my zine, because I was still writing and doing interviews and things like that,” she added. “Then I think seeing other people do it, like just as a human being if you see another person doing something you’re like ‘oh that’s possible.’ So seeing other people create diary comics made me realize that I could do it, to— so I did.”
During the reading, Georges openly shared the beginning chapters of her debut memoir in a power point presentation to a very receptive and intrigued audience, revealing the secret her family had been keeping from her for years, which would eventually become the entire basis of her first graphic novel, all thanks to a birthday gift from her at the time girlfriend, a psychic palm reading, and a long chat with a conservative talk show therapist, Dr. Laura.
When asked how Georges was able to become so open and revealing in her work while being a closeted lesbian as well as being states apart from her family at the time, she said that it took practice. But through doing her autobiographic work, similar to her diary comics, it allowed her to become accustomed to everybody knowing all of her business anyways.
“I really just felt like if I was going to do this book, ‘Calling Dr. Laura,’ I was going to go all the way,” Georges said. “There is a Carl Sagan quote that says ‘if it’s destroyed by the truth, then it deserves to be destroyed,’ and I just feel like that’s true, I believe in honesty and the truth.”
Now a permanent resident of Portland, Oregon, Georges spends her time teaching others how to draw like a cartoonist, as well as writing an advice column for Bitch Magazine. She was also the 2013 Fellow at the Center for Cartoon Studies and has taught at California College for the Art’s MFA in Comics Program.
Georges says she likes to help other people feel empowered through self-expression, and she wants to do whatever she can to assist them in telling their own stories through creative media.
The best advice Georges said she can give to aspiring artists, is to just do it; and that the best thing that can happen, is everything.
“There is never going to be a moment where a publisher or a reader is going to come knocking on your door and ask to look through your files because they heard you might have something good in there, it’s not going to happen,” Georges said. “You have to take it to them and say ‘here, here I am, here’s me.’ So you have a lot to gain, and the stuff you have to lose is nothing you haven’t already felt.”
Georges is currently working on her next major graphic memoir, set to be released in 2017, called, “Fetch: How a Bad Dog Brought Me Home,” a tribute to her feral dog counterpart, Beija.