I always mean to read more webcomics, but I’m often daunted by long-running stories which I never manage to catch up with. I’m also always on the lookout for representation of different LGBTQ+ identities, especially those which are most often forgotten, such as asexuality. Enter this week’s Web Crush: Heartless, a promising and adorable webcomic about vampires in Victorian London. It’s only a couple chapters in so far, but the premise is intriguing and the art is cute.
Spoilers for the first two chapters of the webcomic below.
Heartless is set in Victorian London and follows eighteen-year-old Clara Adams, who appears to be a rich young lady from a good family and has no taste for balls and courtship/marriage rituals. After sneaking out of a ball, she witnesses a quarrel between two vampires and is killed by one party (just called Baron) and subsequently turned into a vampire by the other (Elizabeth Knight). Clara wakes up in Miss Knight’s house and finds out that vampires exist and that she’s now one of them.
We also get the explanation for the title, Heartless. Elizabeth and Daniel (who tried to charm Clara at the ball) discuss Clara’s immunity to both of their allures. Elizabeth concludes that Clara could be one of the “heartless”, which Daniel thought were a myth. While we haven’t had more explanation than that, it’s clear that “heartless” is the term used for vampires (and possibly people, although that is not very clear) who aren’t attracted to any gender. Additionally, the description of the comic states that it has an explicitly asexual protagonist, so I’m sure that Clara’s asexuality will feature in the comic further on. Especially because Elizabeth remarks that her being heartless makes Clara very useful. However, the author and the comic hasn’t made it clear so far whether “heartless” means both asexual and aromantic, or just one of the two. One of the characters mentions that the heartless are particularly cruel but Elizabeth says it’s only a myth. Clara herself doesn’t seem to know that she’s asexual/heartless yet, so I’m curious to see how this issue is developed when she finds out and hopefully it’s going to be made clear exactly what heartless means.
Speaking of the description, it also states that the entire main cast is going to be LGBTQ+. So far, other than Clara, the only other character who could possibly be LGBTQ+ is Elizabeth, who tried to use her allure on Clara. The only reservation I have here is that when characters use their sexuality to get something or achieve something, it’s always a little unclear whether they’re really attracted to those people or if they’re simply using them. But I’m hoping that Heartless will include character development and relationships that will clear up any confusion. Additionally, in the light of characters using their sexuality to gain something, it’s going to be especially interesting to see how Clara’s asexuality is going to be used, as Elizabeth hints at using Clara’s powers for her benefit. As long as Clara does so freely and isn’t just Elizabeth’s pawn, I’m actually quite thrilled to see how asexuality can make a person more powerful.
Another thing that looks promising is the number of female characters. So far we have Clara, Elizabeth, Genevieve, and Permelia. Two of them are women of color. Elizabeth, a Black woman, also appears to be the vampire who “runs this town”. It’s always nice when period pieces don’t act as though people of color “haven’t been invented yet”, or else only have them as servants.
I think the art style of the comic is quite an interesting choice for a story which has death and vampires. On her page, the author Emily Griggs states that she likes cute things, Victorian fashion, and mixing seemingly opposite things together. This is reflected in the art of the comic, which is full of rich, warm colors, and there’s pretty much no gore so far. As someone who often cannot handle body horror and gore, I really enjoy and appreciate the latter.
All in all, Heartless shows quite a lot of promise, even though the story is yet to really get going. I like the cute colorful art, and the diversity of the female cast predisposes me to like it already and I cannot wait to find out more about each of the characters. I also want to know what role Clara’s asexuality will play in the vampires’ struggle for power. You can find Heartless on heartless-comic.com, Patreon, and smackjeeves.