By Leanne Soo, published July 1st, 2022
Content warnings taken from Oseman’s website: “emotionally abusive relationship, one incident of a non-consensual kiss, brief references to past homophobia, including uses of homophobic slurs, and brief references to past bullying”
Happy pride month everyone! Pride is a year-round celebration, but to celebrate pride month and the new hit Netflix series, I’ll be doing a review on the graphic novel, Heartstopper.
Heartstopper follows Charlie Spring in Year 10. He meets Nick Nelson, who’s in Year 11, and the two quickly become friends. Their relationship grows further as they discover their feelings for each other. Heartstopper touches on relationships, mental health, and discovering sexuality.
The portrayal of teen relationships is quite accurate. The awkwardness as they get to know each other, and the nervousness, as well as overthinking when it comes to texting. It may be painful to read, but it really sells youthfulness. All of this actually gets the reader more involved in their relationship; following how Nick and Charlie’s relationship develops is very wholesome.
At the same time, Oseman manages to address heavy topics, such as homophobia and mental health. She covers them well and depicts queer struggles accurately. Nick and Charlie, as well as the side characters Elle, Tara, and Darcy, all face homophobia, and it is sad to see how the comments people make affect them. There’s one scene where Nick searches up “am I gay?” and takes online quizzes. It is an emotional chapter as Nick tries to understand his feelings. This representation may be reassuring for some who are experiencing the same sort of situation, to know that they aren’t alone.
The art style is cute but also effective. The fluttering leaves represent love and happiness and are similar to the metaphorical butterflies-in-the-stomach feeling. Oseman also uses minimalistic dialogue that can express a lot of emotion through facial expression only, which requires talent. While it is simplistic, the art becomes more detailed during some scenes to illustrate its importance.
I have been reading this for a couple of years, and when Oseman announced a Netflix show, I was overjoyed. I hadn’t heard of a Western Webtoon adaptation like this before. I’m glad the show has been well received, and I am very happy that many scenes are similar to the graphic novel. It’s very fun to compare scenes, especially when the cast looks exactly like the characters. You can read the webcomic on Webtoon Canvas, Tapas, and Tumblr, and the TV show is available on Netflix