Comics being adapted into film is not a new idea. The “first” comic to movie occurred around the ‘20s to ‘40s, depending on the definition of comic and superheroes. Another blogger, tjones, made a different analysis of webcomic on Netflix, focusing on the buying of Millarworld. In this essay, I am discussing the adaptation of a webcomic by an independent author. With webcomics first originating at the invention of the web, this new form of media allows for comics to be more accessible. One popular webcomic is Heartstopper, a high school mlm slowburn that tackles homophobia. The main characters are Nick, an out gay boy, and Charlie, a rugby lad who is discovering his sexuality. This heartwarming series garnered positive attention, even being made into a live-action remake on the platform Netflix.
Netflix, a streaming service monopoly, has made a live-action series of the webcomic series Heartstopper, released in April 2022. With great reception in its airing, season two was announced only a month later. As a Netflix adaptation, Heartstopper stays close to its original webcomic format. Special effects such as the iconic Heartstopper leaves and soundtrack including queer artists were present in notable scenes. Produced with See-Saw films, Alice Oseman was very involved in the making and cast of the series. Over 10,000 fans in the UK came to open casting for the first season of Heartstopper. She was able to pick an amazing set of actors who could both portray their characters and had great chemistry.
The author Alice Oseman had published other conventional books before Heartstopper. Her books are all set in the “Osemanverse”, an affectionate term to refer to the universe of her creations. Her first book Solitaire (2014) introduces Tori Spring, the introverted and witty sister of Charlie Spring. The spin-off novella Nick and Charlie (2015) then focuses on the relationship of the two boys, set after the Heartstopper series timeline. In 2016, Oseman started the webcomic Heartstopper. Originally made on Tumblr and Tapas, this series became popular enough to get crowd-funded as physical novels. As of December 2022, there are four published volumes of Heartstopper.
There were some new characters and old ones rewritten in the Netflix adaptation. In order to best carry over the style of comics to television, these changes were necessary. Two characters not present in the original comic are Isaac and Imogen. Isaac is a new addition to Charlie’s close friend group, and Imogen is the straight self-proclaimed “love interest” of Charlie. In the series, there is more focus on Elle, a student who used to attend the all-boys school Truman who transferred to the neighboring all-girls school Higgs. As both a woman of color and in a series where the focus is not of a trans person transitioning, it is refreshing to have such great representation.
Despite the differences in media storytelling, Netflix’s Heartstopper still portrays the original message of two teens in love. There are many loveable quirks that pay homage to the original series, while still being an amazing adaptation. Parts of Heartstopper were revised to better fit the on-screen adaptation. In all, this series garnered plenty of praise and acclaim for being able to tell the stories of queer teenagers in today’s age.
2 thoughts on “Heartstopper Webcomic to Netflix Series”
I really enjoyed getting to learn more about the background of Heartstopper. I myself have watched the show, but not read the comics. It’s really interesting to hear that Oseman started this as a webcomic on Tumblr. Of course she was already a well established author, but given that we all made webcomics this year it’s very exciting to think about what could come out of posting a comic online. You also mentioned the prequel about Tori, I’ll definitelyhave to check that out!
I think it is interesting seeing the adaptation of a independent comic and how that went and how it decided to follow the source material compared to a much bigger adapter like Marvel.