My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Charlie, a highly-strung, openly gay over-thinker, and Nick, a cheerful, soft-hearted rugby player, meet at a British all-boys grammar school. Friendship blooms quickly, but could there be something more…?
Written and illustrated by the author of ‘Solitaire’ and ‘Radio Silence’. Nick and Charlie are characters from ‘Solitaire’.
Updates three times a month (from Feb 2017), on the 1st, 11th, and 21st.
This is an ongoing webcomic, and I’m usually not in the habit of rating comics till I finish them… but I honestly have to gush about this series. So I’m writing this now, and maybe as it progresses/when it finishes I’ll remember to update it? Here’s hoping.
I’m a bit of a sucker for a good webcomic. I follow so many at this point, it would be a problem except that I honestly love it. Because I read so many, I know that while I find it easy to start reading a webcomic, it’s not always easy for a webcomic to stand out to me. I could name so many that I enjoy (like honestly if you want recommendations I have a lot), but not that many that I have immediately messaged my friends about. And I’ve already forced Heartstopper on my best friend, so.
What got me into Heartstopper was the absolutely lovely characters. Nick and Charlie are both very distinct and yet very real feeling characters. I mean, I’m kinda a sucker for both of their ‘types’ (which is to say, the overthinking anxious but kinda funny and sweet ‘nerd’, and the gentle jock with a heart of gold)
Charlie is openly gay and yet that is just a part of his personality (which honestly is how it always should be??). He’s also talented at playing the drums, smart (esp when it comes to math) and well liked. That’s probably the real shining point for me, because Charlie didn’t have an easy coming out, and yet he’s now at a point where he has a solid support network, good friends and a generally good reputation at school. Too often, gay characters are portrayed as isolated and friendless, and while I know that school can be an awful place for some LGBT teens, gay people can actually have friends?? (Imagine that)
Nick is such a soft, lovely character. He’s one of my favourite tropes — a jock with a heart of gold. He’s both a talented rugby player and a massive softie, who uses his ability to lift people up to win arguments. His arc is a really sweet one, and I love how he grows closer to Charlie. Also (spoiler)that the word ‘bisexual’ is actually used for him! Even though he hasn’t picked a label yet, it’s nice to see that word actually used and given as an option. I liked his whole reaction to his gay/bi crisis, especially in that he didn’t take it out on Charlie(spoiler)
As to their relationship, I like that you see things from both perspectives, and honestly the affection between them feels so honest and pure? I just really enjoy it. What I like best (so far) is that it developed from a very real feeling friendship, and is blossoming in a very believable way at a realistic rate. Given the nature of webcomics, it’s hard to have the same kind of sheer amount of interactions (without having like 56789 pages which I would not complain about tbh) but this felt so gradual…. I’m such a fan of the slow burn.
The illustration is simple and yet incredibly expressive and earnest. I’m not sure if that’s the right word but it’s the only way I can describe it. I mean sometimes things are expressed on the characters faces and others in messages shown on phones and then, my personal favourite, symbol style in thought/speech bubbles. I mean I’m a big fan of !! and ?? the emotions (add more ! or ? for effect) and I feel like it feels so authentic to express emotions like that in a comic. Especially when it’s something as sweet and !! as crushes.
Other things that I enjoyed included Nellie the dog, the good family relationships shown and also the varied friend groups and their reactions. I actually happened to have borrowed Radio Silence from the library, and I’ve heard one of the main characters (the main character?) from that – Aled – is the same Aled/best friend of Charlie from this webcomic, which makes me excited to read it!
I’m excited to see where this comic goes! (Low key worried about what might happen to my sons but mostly excited)