A Q&A with Hope Nicholson of Bedside Press
Hope Nicholson is the owner of Winnipeg-based publisher Bedside Press, which focuses on publishing new and old stories from all cultures and walks of life. She was the curator of anthologies for Dark Horse comics including The Secret Loves of Geek Girls and was responsible for putting together the NYT #1 best-selling Angel Catbird trilogy. She is the editor of Moonshot vol. 1 & 2, an Indigenous comics anthology series, and the author of The Spectacular Sisterhood of Superwomen which shines light on female characters forgotten by comics history.
In preparation for GeekGirlCon ’19, Hope did a Q&A with me about her press, the importance of diversity in comics and publishing, and her favorite superheroes. You can catch Hope on various panels at GGC, including From Brain to Bookstore Shelf on Saturday & Women in Comics on Sunday.
The ever-challenging question, why publishing? Was there any particular book or comic that really jump-started your interest in the field?
I never expected to be a publisher, I actually started off in film. I was working on a documentary about Canadian comics, a long personal interest of mine, and I grew frustrated that the comics we were referencing weren’t available to the public to read. So I started off reprinting those comics, and the process was so intricate and involved, it felt like a puzzle to be solved. I really enjoyed the challenge, and I branched off into new projects from there.
What is your favorite thing about owning a press? The most difficult?
My favourite part is definitely the people. I’ve been lucky to work with so many amazing artists, writers, and editors. The most difficult is the finances. A publishing company can sink or swim just depending on the success or failure of a single project, a rejected grant, a failed kickstarter, etc. Unfortunately, this is the situation we are facing now, and it’s being very difficult to see a way out.
What is your approach to curating authors & creators? What do you look for in a piece?
I look for variety first and foremost, if I have 5 pitches that are the same, only 1 will be able to make it in. This is something unfortunately that creators can’t predict when they’re pitching, but drawing on your own unique lived experiences, whether it’s fiction or nonfiction will often make your stories different from other pitches.
How would you explain the importance of independent publishing (comics or in general) to those outside of the industry?
Independent publishing is able to be more flexible than larger publishers, especially ones with a lower amount of staff. Not worrying about how you’re going to find the funds for people to feed their families, frees you up to make riskier decisions on projects that other publishers couldn’t take a risk on.
Why are comics such an important medium in terms of representation & diversity?
Marginalized readers are often drawn to comics, I think perhaps because they’re the odd child of the publishing industry. That and the stories, from smaller publishers at least, tend to be very emotionally powerful and relatable. It’s easier to convey emotions and stories in visuals and text than just text alone.
What are some of your favorite communities to be a part of?
I am not really a part of any communities, I tend to be a bit of a loner! I do enjoy our annual comics festival in Winnipeg though, I’m the founder and now a board member, and it’s an amazing group of creators that we work with every year to educate the public about comics. Many of the creators have enhanced their skills through the festival, and several have even went on to book deals as a result of connections made at the event!
Which creators or stories were important to you growing up?
I was a reader of almost anything, but I’ll be honest, I was particularly drawn to superhero comics, the more soap-opera like the better. But I also enjoyed the weirder comics, like E-Man, Mars, Megaton Man, etc. As I grew older I got into the dark and gritty comics like Transmetropolitan, Sandman, The Authority, and finally in early university, I got into Love & Rockets which unlike the other comics, I still read to this day.
…how about now, what are you currently geeking out about?
I love really emotional comics, and funny webcomics, so a wide spectrum! My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness and For the Love of God, Marie! Are two of the former. For the latter, I’m a big fan of Menage a Trois by Gisele Lagace (now turned into Pixie Trix Comics), Owlturd by Shen, Chainsawsuit by Kris Straub and Honey Dill by Ryan Harby
What do you wish you had more time for?
I’m unemployed, so I have all the time in the world, I just wish that the videogame Another Eden would respawn Red Keys with less than a 6 hour wait in between
Who is your absolute favorite superhero? Or top three, if asking for one is too cruel!
Hm, Dazzler and Scarlet Witch. I love that their adventures merge the mundane with the supernatural. It’s a good combo!
Come meet Hope and learn more about her experiences as a publisher and creator at GeekGirlCon ’19 November 16 & 17. Passes available online now!