By ELEANOR HEDGES DUROY, age 13
Nicole Georges is a cartoonist and memoirist based in Portland, OR, whose book, Calling Dr. Laura, was nominated for an award at the Angoulême International Comics Festival. This was the very same festival that, earlier in the year, drew strong criticism for refusing to nominate any women for its lifetime achievement award.
Eleanor Hedges Duroy: At what age did you first know that drawing would be a good way to express your ideas?
Nicole Georges: As soon as I could write I drew at the same time. I’d write and draw for other people, or just for myself. I would illustrate poems for people. And then in elementary school, I got a diary and I started keeping track of everything that happened. Drawing was always a part of that.
Where do you get your ideas for your stories?
I get my ideas from life. I do diary comics frequently. So, I’ll take notes of everything that’s happened for a couple of weeks. Then I go through and see if I see a story in that—if anything was interesting or if anything evolved over those two weeks. If something happens that’s horribly uncomfortable, now I know that even if it’s terrible in the moment, if someone can relate to it, it might make a good comic.
What types of stories do you feel are not being told today that should be recognized on a larger scale, like at an international comics festival?
There’s a lot! I think we don’t see gay people enough in comics. I don’t see enough comics by people of color or fat people very much. There are a few, but I would like to see more in mainstream comics.
How does activism play into your work?
Ever since I was in middle school I was an activist of some sort. In my work I try to create characters that people can feel emotionally attached to. So, if somebody doesn’t have any gay friends, and they have to vote on something that affects gay people, maybe something I wrote about cultivated empathy in them, and they’ll think about that when they vote. Or maybe if I write a story about being kind to animals, they’ll see how easy it is to be kind to animals. That’s my hope.
Do you have any advice for kids who want to become activists and cartoonists?
If you don’t see yourself reflected in the media you’re presented—if you don’t see yourself in the TV shows that you watch, or in magazines or books you read—if you don’t see people with bodies that look like yours, or skin colors that look like yours, or economic situations like yours, I think that you should make your own media. I know that’s a big task. And there might not be anything like it, and that’s OK. You’ll find that there are other people like you who are just waiting to read a comic or magazine like yours.