Heart of the City (comic strip)
|Heart of the City|
Heart Lamarr (L) and Addy Lamarr (R)
|Current status / schedule||Running/updates daily|
|Launch date||March 23, 1997|
Heart of the City is a comic strip by Mark Tatulli. It began syndication by United Features Syndicate on March 23, 1997 and is still running.
It centers on a young girl, named Heart, who lives somewhere in Philadelphia. (One 2004 strip shows her home address as 1512 Spruce Street)
- Heart Lamarr: The title character and "star" of the comic. Heart is a precocious girl whose adorably energetic presence attracts everyone around her. She loves dressing up and playing with her "Karlie and Ben" dolls, and dreaming of the day she can finally get her ears pierced. Heart's primary characteristic is her obsession with all things Hollywood and celebrity fads. Her main goal in life is to be a mega-star before hitting the teenage years, a goal she has attempted to act upon many times over the course of the strip yet is continuously thwarted by the combined forces of reality and her mother. In the later strips, she is completely obsessed with new fads such as new media and Jonas Brothers, who made an (unofficial) appearance in the May 7, 2008 strip.
- Dean: Heart's "boyfriend," the term she uses to describe him (though Dean does not appear to think they are a couple, he does reciprocate her feelings of affection). A typical young boy who is obsessed with various franchises- chief among them being Star Wars and The Lord of the Rings. He is often seen dressing up in costumes as various characters from his favorite movies and acting out random scenes, occasionally with Heart's help.
- Addy Lamarr: Heart's mom, a single mother constantly struggling to hold on to sanity. She is often seen struggling to pay bills while balancing her career with her time with Heart. Addy had wanted to be involved in movie production, a dream job she sacrificed after her whirlwind marriage and the birth of Heart. Addy was seen working at an unnamed cubicle type job in the early strips, but was fired due to changes in the company, forcing her to hunt for a new job. She now works at a memorabilia auction house, a job she enjoys but finds aggravating at points due to Heart's insistence at being involved in every sort of celebrity event the auction house hosts. Her favorite movie is White Christmas.
- Mrs. Carmela Angelini: An elderly woman who lives in the same apartment building as the Lamarrs. She is often seen baby-sitting Heart when Addy works. Mrs. Angelini is a fan of opera and frequently cooks typical Italian meals. Mrs. Angelini will often tell stories of her childhood in Boston to make Heart realize an important moral lesson. These stories are usually in sharp contrast to Heart's materialistic views, occasionally causing Heart to miss the point of them at first. Mrs. Angelini is a widow, her husband having fought in the Korean War and losing a leg due to injuries sustained in fighting. The Angelinis apparently had 5 children together, none of whom have been introduced in the comic thus far.
- Kat: Heart's best friend, shares a lot of the same interests. Appears to be somewhat more level-headed than Heart.
- Spock: Dean's pet cat, found in an alley outside their apartment complex. Named after Leonard Nimoy's character in Star Trek, "because of (the cat's) pointy ears" according to Dean. Frequently interrupts Dean's homework by sitting on the papers. Also seems to have a serious addiction to catnip.
- Richard: Dean's friend, who is similar to Dean, though is very timid. Usually appears with glasses and always speaks with a lisp due to his retainer. An unusually good bowler.
- Brent: Another of Dean's friends, appears in the same class as Heart & Dean. His life's ambition is to be a news anchor. His idol is Chris Matthews.
- Anu: Another of Dean's friends, a computer whiz whose parents are from India.
- Mimi: A young French girl from Heart's dance class, also attends the same school as Heart, Kat & Dean. Often acts as a rival (albeit an unknowing one) for Dean's affections, which infuriates Heart.
- Miss Lacey: A professional ballet dancer who runs the dance school that Heart and Kat attend.
- Officer Mario: A police officer whose beat frequently brings him into contact with Heart's actions. Some strips have hinted at a romance between him and Mrs. Angelini.
- The Spumanti Brothers: The neighborhood bullies, two older boys who frequently antagonize Heart and her friends. They participated against Heart's team in a Winter Olympics that Heart and her friends made up, but were taken home by their mother, thus, their team had to forfeit. They are easily intimidated by Mrs. Angelini.
- Angela Scaramuzzi: Mrs. Angelini's childhood rival, frequently appearing during flashback storylines but has appeared once (as a nun) in the real world. Hates Mrs. Angelini due to an incident involving a boy who was engaged to Angela but loved Carmela. Angela has refuses to let go of her hatred even after fifty years.
- Antonio Gallo: Heart's father, never seen in the strip and thus far only referred to by his stage name. He left Addy just after Heart was born. An actor, and perhaps the source of Heart's obsession with the theater, he was last known to be playing a one-man show about the life of Walt Disney.
- Alicia: A rival of Heart's, she made an appearance in a 2014 summer arc, where she competed with Heart for roles in "Frozen", being performed by their theater camp. They had to work together to get their desired roles, but Heart got Anna and Elsa's mom and a troll, while Alicia got understudy to Anna (played by Kat) and "snowflake #7". She later led a protest against the unwanted roles.
In typical comic strip format, characters do not age but the world around them is shown to change. For example, Dean was seen preparing and reacting to each of the Star Wars prequel films without aging. Likewise, every year Heart and her friends are seen getting a new teacher when school begins in fall but have yet to advance a grade. In the early 2000s (Post 2003, pre 2005), Heart is second grade, yet in a 2009 September strip, Dean claims there is nothing better than a fourth grader at a first grade table, hinting they may be fourth grade, hence slowly progressing in age.
The majority of the strip is devoted to one-shot jokes regarding Heart's obsession with Hollywood and any current fads, Addy's money problems, or just typical childhood situations. Sometimes the strip will also feature ongoing storylines lasting for weeks or even months. Perhaps the most frequent of these ongoing stories are the flashback tales, usually told by Mrs. Angelini but occasionally by other characters.
On some occasions (holidays like Christmas and Memorial Day) the regular series will be interrupted by a single-panel strip featuring a symbolic quote and/or artwork. During early November 2007 a two-week strip was rerun, featuring Heart interviewing an elderly neighbor, Mr. Nussbaum, who along with his sister were survivors of Kristallnacht.
- Heart of the City (April 15, 2000, ISBN 978-0-7407-0576-2, Andrews McMeel Publishing)
- Mark Tatulli: Successful animator, illustrator, writer, artist, filmmaker, producer… and of course, cartoonist. An Exclusive interview. Tiziano Thomas Dossena, L'Idea Magazine, 2014