“In 1950s Vietnam, a lost soul comes to the aid of a farmer’s field under attack. In Victorian Boston, a new governess comes to care for the rogueish widower of a stately manor and his charming brood of children. A fashion journalist lands the interview of her dreams – but it unearths deadly secrets of Taiwan’s most popular fashion designer. A Sioux elder heals a recently deceased woman who sets out to recover her lost love. And a young bride spins a story of murder and deceit that paints her husband as a killer . . . but is there any truth to her tale?”
This is from the latest project of Hope Nicholson, last seen on Fangirl getting her Secret Loves of Geek Girls comic into print through Dark Horse. Gothic Tales of Haunted Love, like Secret Loves, is an appeal to perhaps what most see as a niche audience. However, this is a very dedicated audience. Fellow organizers Jaque Nodell and Sam Beiko came into the project as big fans of the short-lived Gothic comics fad from the 1970s.
“They were a lot of fun,” Nicholson says, referring to the stories printed nearly fifty years ago, “But they were also kind of formulaic, in that they were always a man and a woman couple … it was always a white protagonist, she was often a fainting-kind of heroine-type…”
She’s hoping to change that, with the help of friends and fellow creators who agree that the Gothic genre could do with a bit of a makeover. Kitty Curan and Larissa Zageris got involved in the campaign by submitting to Hope’s call-out via Twitter.
“Kitty has always been an avid follower of romance stories, romance comics, and honestly, most sub-genres of comics in general for most of her life. I am an avid consumer of trash and brooding men.”
Zageris and Curan had actually worked on and abandoned a Gothic-style quiz called “How Grave is Your Misfortune?” which found the perfect place to be printed with Gothic Tales.
Zageris describes the match of creator and publisher in an email as “kismet.”
The published product will mostly consist of Gothic romance comics that in some way subvert the genre. Stories will include non-binary couples and non-Western settings. One original story for the anthology will feature a gothic South-Asian love story, and Gothic Tales will reprint a comic from the 1970s that retells a Korean folk-legend from the same genre.
“There were people from the 1970s who were resisting the standard tropes,” Nicholson said, “And the important thing to remember is that even though these stories were really formulaic, there’s always one exception.”
Which was the comic they are reprinting, The Promise.
The Gothic genre has always had a place in pop culture since the Bronte sisters. Movies, plays and especially books that glorify the frail white protagonist (usually dying of consumption or the pox) and the obsessive lover (wealthy and aloof) can be found in any decade, but Gothic comics have never quite found the same stride that the 1970s gave them.
Until Nicholson, Beiko and Nodell decided bring it back. This project mixes the old with the new, taking the history and adding to it rather than reimagining it or revising the more problematic themes. As of now, backers have pledged a little more than $16,000 to their $21,694 goal with 36 days to go. Kickstarter is a way to test the market, Nicholson explains. Success isn’t guaranteed.
“It’s scary, and it’s demoralizing, and it’s awful when you fail, I don’t want to mitigate that,” she admits, “But it’s survivable, and you can make new projects after.”
But Nicholson hasn’t had a Kickstarter fail yet. The project deadline is Tuesday, September 12.