Fans of Alice Oseman’s Heartstopper will have a new installment of the story to look forward to when Scholastic publishes the prose novella Nick and Charlie in January 2023; its cover, designed by Oseman, is revealed here for the first time.
Nick Nelson and Charlie Spring are the lead couple in Heartstopper, Oseman’s mega-popular webcomic and graphic novel series, which was recently adapted into an animated Netflix series. The novella picks up their story as Nick is getting ready to leave for college. Charlie is a year younger, so the two are dealing with their impending separation and its possible effects on their relationship.
“Nick and Charlie have existed as characters for a whole decade, and, like me, many of my readers have grown up along with them,” Oseman told PW. “I adored exploring their lives now that they’re a little older and I hope readers will enjoy reading this new chapter of Nick and Charlie’s love story.”
Oseman introduced Nick and Charlie in her first prose novel, Solitaire, which was published in the U.K. by HarperCollins Children’s Books in 2014, when she was a 19-year-old student at the University of Durham. She launched Heartstopper as a webcomic in 2016, and it was one of the first big hits for vertical-scrolling webcomics. In 2018, after the comic reached 50,000 readers, she launched a Kickstarter for a self-published print version. It reached its £9,000 goal within two hours and ultimately raised £58,925 from almost 1,600 backers. Hachette Children’s Group snapped up the U.K. rights later that year and published Heartstopper under its Hodder imprint. Scholastic followed suit in the U.S. in 2019, publishing the first two volumes in 2020 under the Graphix imprint. Four volumes have been published so far, and a fifth is planned but hasn’t been scheduled yet. The Netflix series, written by Oseman, premiered in the U.S. in April 2022 and made the Netflix global list of most viewed shows for three weeks in a row; it has been renewed for two more seasons.
Prose to Comics and Back Again
Nick and Charlie editor David Levithan recalled meeting Oseman at an event in London. “I knew her as a YA author, so was a little confused when, during the signing, readers kept asking her to draw things in their books,” he said. “It didn’t take me long to find what Alice was up to with her webcomic. Then, when Cassandra Pelham Fulton and David Saylor brought Heartstopper to Scholastic as its U.S. home, I got to be a very loud cheerleader. I think we all felt it was something really special, in no small part because it was a queer YA romance we’d all been looking for.”
While Nick and Charlie is an illustrated novella, not a graphic novel, Levithan said, “I think it feels very similar, because Alice’s humor, heart, and humanity come through whether there are illustrations or not.”
He also thinks the novella stands on its own, apart from the graphic novel. “I think the dilemma Nick and Charlie face in this story, about what you need to do in a relationship when one person must go somewhere else while the other stays behind, is pretty relatable even if you’ve never met Nick and Charlie before,” he said. “But I imagine it will have even more impact if you are familiar with the characters, either through the graphic novels or the TV series.”
Having spent a lot of time with Nick and Charlie, Levithan is rooting for them. “I think you can’t be a fan of Heartstopper without wishing Nick and Charlie the best in all things,” he said. “So I just wish them the best now, because growing up can be a beast to relationships.”