Category Archives: Webcomics

Heartstopper: Volume 1

Queer romantic young adult graphic novel set in the UK

Content warning: homophobia, sexual assault, disordered eating, mental illness, bullying

I saw lots of trailers for the Netflix adaptation of this graphic novel and suddenly copies of it were for sale everywhere. It looked unbelievably cute and I had a book voucher leftover from Christmas, so I picked up a paperback copy of the first volume.

Image is of “Heartstopper: Volume 1” by Alice Oseman. The paperback book is resting against a legal graffiti wall beneath a simple representation of the Ukraine flag, blue and yellow, twisted in the middle, partially covered by a hot pink tag. Above the flag are two stylised leaves, also in blue and yellow, which reflect the colours used in the TV adaptation to represent Nick and Charlie. The cover is of two teenage boys in school uniforms, one with dark hair and one with light hair.

“Heartstopper: Volume 1” by Alice Oseman is a graphic novel about a quiet teenage boy called Charlie who goes to Truham Grammar School for Boys. At the beginning of the year, his school starts a new ‘vertical’ form group to take attendance and Charlie’s seat is next to a boy called Nick, the captain of the school rugby team. Although they are quite different, they become fast friends, and begin spending time together outside school. Charlie is the only openly gay student at Truham and even though he is developing feelings for Nick, all his friends are adamant Nick is straight. But maybe, just maybe he might like Charlie back.

This is an incredibly sweet and readable graphic novel that gently and courageously tackles a number of different social issues but especially coming to terms with your sexuality and identity as a teenager. I just adored how respectful Charlie and Nick are with each other and that only becomes more apparent as the series progresses. Oseman brings to light the loneliness of being the only openly LGBTIQA+ student in the school and how being forced to keep things secret can leave you vulnerable to abuse. I really liked how Oseman struck a balance between the supports Charlie has around him, especially his friends and his sister, and his vulnerability to bullying, negative self-talk and restricted eating.

One of the most unique and striking things about this graphic novel is the use of motifs like leaves, flowers around the panels to emphasise what is going on emotionally in the story. Oseman’s art style overall is quite simple yet expressive. I really liked that they shared earlier drawings of the comic from years before it was published online as a webcomic (which I was inspired to read and which is still being updated). From reading many webcomics, and even trying a couple myself, I know how difficult it is to find a consistent style while your art steadily improves from all the practise. While maybe not my favourite graphic novel from an aesthetic point of view, Oseman’s style is definitely unique more than adequately conveys the story.

Which brings me to the Netflix adaptation. If I liked the graphic novel, I loved the TV series. It was beautifully filmed, immaculately edited and very well-acted. I understand Oseman was one of the writers for the show, and I almost think this story really came to life in film. The show kept some of the embellishments of the comic with certain scenes split into panels like a comic or animated leaves and flowers floating across the screen. The secondary characters felt much more filled out as well, and while the TV series remained very faithful to the comic, almost scene for scene, it seemed like a much richer story. So much thought was put into characterisation, sets and even colour palettes. I watched it while I was sick at home with COVID and am not ashamed to admit that I watched the entire thing three times. The music was exceptionally curated and you can listen to the Heartstopper ‘mixtape‘ as well for the full sensory experience. Sometimes it feels like everything on TV is really depressing or intense or dark or scary, and it was so lovely to watch something that was warm and sweet, yet utterly compelling.

A thoroughly enjoyable and inclusive story that you can check out for yourself in book, webcomic or TV format.

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Filed under Book Reviews, Graphic Novels, Webcomics, Young Adult

Eagerness and Desire

I have been following this phenomenal and gritty webcomic called “Judecca” for years now. I also follow updates of the authors on tumblr. While their main project is “Judecca”, every now and then they post up some of their other projects, and that’s how I got reminded of the fantastic little collection called “Eagerness and Desire”.

I had in fact bought the PDF version of “Eagerness and Desire” about a year ago and had promptly forgotten all about it when I saw something posted about it. It jogged something in my memory, I did a quick search in my email inbox and ‘lo and behold: there it was. I had a happy little PDF of it sitting right there, ready to be read.

Eagerness and Desire1

“Eagerness & Desire”, by Noora Heikkilä, is a collection of three short comics about love, sex and dating. The first follows the escapades of a very cute and very forward waitress. The second is about three women who summon a demon and have a blast with him. The third is about a couple, life and death.

Eagerness and Desire

I really love Heikkilä’s work. “Eagerness and Desire” is a great example of the feminist, sex-positive and body-positive messages that she embeds in her work. She’s a fantastic artist with a really edgy, messy, watercolour style that has just improved and improved over the years I’ve been following her work.

If you have $5 and you’re willing to throw it at a great artist and a really adorable, entertaining read in PDF format, “Eagerness and Desire” is just a mouse-click away.

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Filed under Book Reviews, eBooks, Graphic Novels, Webcomics