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Comic Strip / Heart of the City

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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:

  • 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.