I haven’t read that many graphic novels, which on reflection seems ridiculous, as a person who loves the way that art and images can tell stories. Through most of my last year of university I was pretty obsessed with photographs. I was an art student who wrote on the side. So I’m glad I read the first volume of Heartstopper, because it reminded me of how much a picture can say.
The attention to detail in the illustrations was so intricate, and I loved how certain details were highlighted to add to the context of the story, to the world Nick and Charlie inhabit, and to who they are as people. I raced through it, because I couldn’t really help myself, but I kept picking things out on my second read through that I’d missed the first time.
Nick and Charlie’s relationship was so sweet. It was so nice to see a supportive and encouraging friendship portrayed, two people who genuinely enjoy each other’s company and see the potential in each other. Charlie needed someone to bring him out of his shell, and Nick does that coaxingly but without putting any pressure on him. Unlike Ben, Nick listens when Charlie says no and respects his boundaries.
Charlie’s perception of himself is wildly different to what Nick sees. He’s been bullied and even though it’s stopped, the consequences of that are still evident. That voice that tells him he isn’t good enough, that people don’t like him and never will, is hard to shake but you can see him starting to reassess that when he gets closer to Nick.
Nick also finds himself questioning his idea of himself as his feelings for Charlie deepen. The scenes where he’s trying to figure out who he is are especially poignant, and how lonely it can be as a teenager struggling with those questions.
Then Nellie, the unbearably cute dog, was introduced and my heart was officially stolen.
Reading Heartstopper was just what I needed on Sunday afternoon after a long car drive, and I’m only sad that I have to wait until July for volume 2. I can’t wait to see where their relationship goes.