The stars of Netflix's queer series 'Heartstopper' smile

Is ‘Heartstopper’ Based on a Book?

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Heartstopper only premiered on Netflix on April 22nd, but the internet has already fallen in love. Admittedly, I watched the first episode and ended up bingeing all eight episodes in one night. I couldn’t get enough of it. The story is simple, out high schooler Charlie Spring (Joe Locke) falls for rugby lad (and seemingly straight) Nick Nelson (Kit Connor). The two form a friendship that slowly blossoms into something more. Not only are Nick and Charlie adorable and do a fantastic job being in love, but all of their friends are fully realized great characters too.

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The story stays uplifting, while still discussing heavy topics like bullying, mental health, and navigating life as a queer youth. It even has super supportive parents and teachers. Also, it is a story about high schoolers that young teens and adults can watch and love together. Like most great stories, Heartstopper started life long before the show.

Webcomic Turned Graphic Novel

Heartstopper Graphic Novel Cover
(image: Alice Oseman/Hachette Children’s Group)

Alice Oseman began writing and self-publishing the Heartstopper webcomic. She posted it on Tapas and Tumblr for free. The adorable and relatable story, paired with her cute yet emotive art, garnered a huge fanbase. When she decided to self-publish physical copies of the story, the Kickstarter she created reached its goal in a matter of hours.

In 2019, Hachette Children’s Group purchased the rights to publish the graphic novels on a massive scale. The story so far encompasses four volumes. The fifth and final volume is due out early next year. As much as I support purchasing the story for yourself, I love that Oseman also kept the story on the internet without any paywalls blocking readers. If people can’t afford it or have some other hardship gaining access to LGBTQ+ literature (I’m looking at you, Florida), they still have access to the uplifting story. Oseman still posts new pages of the future volume as she finishes them on Tumblr, Tapas, and Webtoon. My Tumblr alerts me whenever new pages arrive.

Is the book better?

Most of the time, yes, the book is better than whatever show or movie is created in its image. Heartstopper breaks the mold. The amazing folks who made the series translated it perfectly from the comic. The character’s rooms look identical, Nick and Charlie seem to have stepped off the pages, and we still have the cute flora flying around when love is in the air.

Everything in the story that differs from the comic makes sense with the change in media. Some things that worked in the comic, like how characters popped in and told their stories, would have seemed odd in a TV show. Character’s stories weave seamlessly into the main narrative of two boys falling in love. In this case, the book and show are equally wonderful.

The eight episodes of Heartstopper only cover the first two volumes of Nick and Charlie’s story. This gives me hope that a second (and possibly third) season is on the horizon. Currently, nothing official has been announced, but I am crossing my fingers. The world needs more pure and special things like Heartstopper.

(feature image: Netflix)

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D.R. Medlen
D.R. Medlen (she/her) is a pop culture staff writer at The Mary Sue. After finishing her BA in History, she finally pursued her lifelong dream of being a full-time writer in 2019. She expertly fangirls over Marvel, Star Wars, and historical fantasy novels (the spicier the better). When she's not writing or reading, she lives that hobbit-core life in California with her spouse, offspring, and animal familiars.