Heart of the City is a comic strip that has been running in newspapers since 1998. Created by Mark Tatulli, who also writes and draws the macabre Liō, it focuses on Heart Lamarr, a high energy elementary schoolgirl in Philadelphia; her proudly geeky best friend Dean, and her frequently overwhelmed single mother.
The comic, complete with archives since 1999, can be found at GoComics. (Beware of blocker-bypassing popups.)
In strips beginning with the run date of April 27, 2020, Tatulli passed Heart of the City to cartoonist Christina "Steenz" Stewart, resulting in a very noticeable change in visual style.
Heart of the City provides examples of:
- Aborted Arc: Several story arcs often end suddenly with no actual conclusion.
- Adaptational Self-Defense: Played with. Dean, a devout Star Wars fan, is obsessed with making "Han shot first" canon again. So much that he causes George Lucas to have a nervous breakdown in a dream sequence.
- All Just a Dream: Several arcs end this way. For instance, the arc where Heart travels to the world of Dr. Seuss is naturally a dream.
- Animesque: Steenz has added more anime style elements in the way eyes and facial expressions are depicted.
- Black and Nerdy: Charlotte. She could be a case of Write Who You Know to Steenz, who introduced her.
- Bland-Name Product: Heart is often seen playing with Karlie and Ben dolls.
- Catch Phrase: Heart's "Holy Shamoly!"
- Comic-Book Time: The characters don't age, but the pop-culture references remain current.
- Dead TV Remote Gag: At least it landed on something she wanted to watch.
- Deadpan Snarker: Heart to Dean; Heart's mom to Heart.
- Disappeared Dad: Heart's father left right after she was born to pursue a career in acting. A storyline in November 1999 revolved around this.
- Early Installment Weirdness: In a 1999 sequence, Dean is absolutely shocked to learn that Heart didn't like The Phantom Menace, and then tries to argue why it's good. While this lines up with fan opinion at the time, it reads oddly in retrospect, since Dean has spent the 00's complaining about the prequel movies note as much as any other disappointed Star Wars fanboy since then.
- Epunymous Title: A girl named Heart who lives in The City.
- Fairy Godmother: One series of strips revolves around Heart being helped by her "fairy bird-mother" to attend a Jonas Brothers concert.
- "Flowers for Algernon" Syndrome: One arc had Dean becoming a popular jerk; another had him becoming "mature." In both cases, he nearly lost Heart's friendship.
- The Ghost: Dean's father is referred to several times, but is never seen.
- Give Geeks a Chance: Heart may complain about Dean's nerdy interests, but as the examples from "Flowers for Algernon" Syndrome above shows, she wouldn't want him any other way.
- Halfway Plot Switch: Subverted for the most part: While the longer arcs do tend to drift a little, they almost always come back around by the end. A straight example: A 2006 story arc that starts here begins with Dean creating his own Star Wars movie, then eventually changes to Heart dreaming she has to go to summer school.
- * It's All About Me: Heart.
- * Little Miss Snarker: Heart.
- * Mood Whiplash: The Kristallnacht arc.
- * Not a Morning Person: Heart.
- Running Gag: Dean would like to remind you that Han shot first.
- To Salad Fingers, of all things.
- Traumatic Haircut: In one installment, the "Ben" doll character is a hairdresser wrecking his clients' hair in a fantasy sequence. Then Heart's mother tells her that she won't replace her dolls as it's not her fault Heart cut their hair off. Heart blames it on Ben.
- The Unsmile: Heart's "innocent smile".
- * Volumetric Mouth: Often.