Webcomic Wednesday: Alien Heart (Repost)

This review was originally posted in October 2019. We are reposting as Anna Fitzpatrick currently has a Kickstarter running to fund a physical volume of the series.

Review by Seán Donnelly

Created by Anna Fitzpatrick

Alien Heart by Anna Fitzpatrick, currently featured on Tapas, is set in a distant future wherein Earth has been rendered uninhabitable, save for a fortunate few sealed inside a domed city – once an extravagant theme park – surrounded by strange monsters known as ‘angels’. One of these individuals is Ivy, who finds escape in video games wherein she can act out her heroic fantasies. Ivy is a loner, a queer girl unable to identify with her fellow inhabitants, who belittle or mistreat her for being different. However Ivy soon finds salvation in a new best friend, one who enjoys her company, but danger looms as angel attacks increase.

The world of Alien Heart is rendered in loving detail. The city’s amusement park aesthetic is at once beguiling yet oddly oppressive; panels devoted to it are often tall in height, making it feel monolithic, and the monochrome colour scheme only permits colour in certain spaces, such as shading and sound effects. The colours themselves are subtle yet exotic. Purples, pinks and greens dominate the page, giving it that neon tint to further sell the city’s carefree if lurid atmosphere (‘a post-apocalyptic fever dream of arcade machines, candy and grime’ as the Kickstarter description puts it), as well as heightening the various moods the characters – Ivy especially – experience. Though the story is primarily told through Ivy’s point-of-view the background never feels vacant or lacking. The comic’s sense of character is strong too. From the moment we meet her we already have a defined idea of who Ivy is, her struggles and wants in life, her likes and dislikes; the scene wherein she rambles at length to Rosa about what she likes is a particular highlight. Where writing and illustration dovetail is when the characterisation is at its strongest, such as the angel attack on the soldiers, where Ivy’s body language communicates her outrage at the creature’s treatment.

As mentioned there is currently a Kickstarter campaign for a print run of Alien Heart’s first issuewhich you should definitely consider backing. The art and storytelling is consistently strong and while the comic has only recently concluded its first chapter it shows considerable promise in those first forty-four pages. This is definitely one you should look out for.