Heartstopper began life as a webcomic, though its main characters appeared even earlier as side-characters in author, Alice Oseman’s, young-adult novel, Solitaire. Now Nick and Charlie’s story of youthful romance and self-discovery has made it to print, allowing new readers, such as myself, to experience it for the first time.
It hasn’t been easy for Charlie, being openly gay at an all-boys school. The bullying has mostly stopped, but people still talk about him behind his back and he just discovered that the boy he thought was his boyfriend has secretly been dating a girl and has clearly just been using him. That’s when he meets Nick, a cheerful classmate who’s handsome, kind and tragically straight. At least, that’s what Charlie thought, but as the two become friends and grow closer, Charlie starts to notice signs that Nick might reciprocate his growing romantic feelings. Could this be his shot at real love? Or is he just seeing what he wants to see?
I decided to give Heartstopper a try after reading Pokeninja90’s glowing review of the series and I’m very glad that I did. Heartstopper is a sweet and adorable story with a romance that builds slowly and in a way that feels genuine and earned. Charlie and Nick just love being in each other’s company and Nick feels like he can be himself around Charlie in a way that he can’t be around his dude-bro friends. It takes him awhile to realize that his feelings for his new friend might be romantic though, as prior to this he’s only had crushes on girls. I was gripped by Nick’s struggle to come to terms with his sexuality and the drama surrounding Charlie’s bastard of an ex, who won’t leave him alone. Before I knew it, I was completely in love with these character’s and I thoroughly enjoyed watching their relationship develop as they became friends and then grew flirtatious as they started to fall for each other.
I also loved the art in this series! Heartstopper is presented in a minimal colour pallet of black, white and aqua-blue, which made the comic feel reminiscent of old-picture books I’d read when I was a kid. Oseman frequently makes use of the blank space in-between panels by adding in falling leaves or snowflakes, an elegant touch that adds to the ambiance of the scenes. She can also draw one hell of a cute dog!
I’ve fallen for Heartsopper hook, line and sinker and eagerly await the release of volume 2, especially since this volume leaves off on a doozy of a cliff-hanger. If you’re looking for a fun LGBTQ+ read for Pride Month, this would be a great series to try. I will include a trigger warning for a depiction of a sexual assault, as Charlie’s ex-boyfriend forcibly kisses him during one scene, but otherwise I’d highly recommend this series to Boys Love manga fans and fans of LGBTQ+ comics in general.
Final Score: 8.5 out to 10
For more information on this series, visit Graphix’s website.
What did you think of this series? Do you have any recommendations for Pride Month? Let me know in the comments. You can also check out my reviews of some other fantastic LGBTQ+ comics: