Tatulli Passes Heart of the City to Steenz

Mark Tatulli has passed his Heart of the City comic strip into the hands of Steenz (Christina Stewart). Steenz will be Heart’s cartoonist beginning April 27, 2020. As seen below, there will be no attempt to emulate the Tatulli style, Steenz will go her own way.

From Mark’s Twitter feed:

So here it is, folks! I’ve passed HEART OF THE CITY on to the next generation! Please welcome Steenz to the funny pages!

And from Steenz’s Twitter feed:

GOOD MORNING! The announcement has been released! I’m the new artist on Heart of The City! It’s a syndicated comic strip that you can read EVERYDAY on gocomics.com starting NEXT MONDAY! (It’ll also be in a few newspapers :>)

From The Washington Post story breaking the news:

If there has been one constant in more than a century of America’s daily black-and-white comics pages, it’s that almost all the people applying the artful black inks have been white.

And good luck finding women of color. (The Washington Post’s cartoon pages, for example, have zero.)

This year already is bringing a marked change. Next week, the Detroit-based cartoonist Steenz is inheriting the writing and drawing of the daily strip “Heart of the City” from creator Mark Tatulli, making her one of the few African American women ever to appear on the mainstream funny pages.

That change follows news earlier this year that St. Louis-based Bianca Xunise was becoming the first black woman to join the rotating team of female creators who produce the long-running strip “Six Chix.”

Steenz, the nom de toon of Christina Stewart, won the Dwayne McDuffie Award for Diversity in Comics last year for drawing the fantasy graphic novel “Archival Quality,” which caught the eye of Shena Wolf, director of comics and acquisitions at Andrews McMeel Syndication.

“I thought the art was incredible,” Wolf says of “Archival Quality,” a ghost story about a museum archivist struggling with depression and anxiety written by Steenz’s creative partner, Ivy Noelle Weir. And “her Web comics showcase a command of drama and specificity.”


More from the WaPo story:

Wolf was looking for a new talent after Tatulli decided to step away from “Heart of the City” after 22 years because of his full plate working on the popular strip “Lio” and such graphic novels as “Short & Skinny.” “It is my hope that Steenz will take ‘Heart’ to the next level,” Tatulli says, “and knowing her work, I believe she can.”


Besides infusing “Heart of the City” with her sense of humor, [Steenz] also wants to increase the racial diversity of the strip, which centers on a schoolgirl named Heart who lives in Philadelphia. As a child, Steenz would read strips featuring black characters, such as “Curtis” and “JumpStart,” and think: “Cool, this is about a family,” she says. “I didn’t read it as a black family.”

With “Heart of the City,” “I wanted to make sure that Heart’s life is like the life of people living in Philadelphia today,” she says. “In a Philadelphia apartment building, there’s no way all her friends are white.”

We’re looking forward to the Steenz Heart, and wish the young cartoonist much success.



36 thoughts on “Tatulli Passes Heart of the City to Steenz

  1. I love you guys, but please oh please don’t begin a headline with “TATULLI PASSES” again. I got scared, until I read the rest of it.

  2. I hate this change. I loved the original Heart Of The City. Sorry if I seem inflexible, but that is what it is. I could tell something screwy was going on when the kids were suddenly much older. I hate it when my favorite comics change or go away.

  3. This saddens me. The comics I like keep getting less and less. I support new artists doing their own comic strip, but when they take over an existing on I think it is better if they stay as close to the existing style as possible. At least for awhile. A sudden change (like today’s strip, which caused me to google and find out what’s going on) is not usually taken we’ll by loyal readers. I will try it for the week… I hope this is not one more that I no longer follow (I pay for two newspapers and GoComics… So I still pay to read things.)

  4. Although I, too, abhor change, I got used to the kids aging a bit & realized it was natural. It seemed to be part of the story & allowed it & them to grow & was clever. Let’s give Steenz a chance. Her comments are so true. Philly, just like Detroit (or anywhere!) are not pure white. I’m also glad that Tat is alive & um, well, well.

  5. Hey, Mark. Best of luck with this change
    In your career. We are a couple of the many
    folks who met you in person at the
    Cartoonapalooza! in Philly a couple years
    ago. We love your work. Best wishes to Ms
    Steenz in her new spot in the Phila Inquirer
    funny pages! Her art reminds me a little
    bit of Archie comics … but different!
    Ms Steenz, have a great career, hope to follow
    your new comic years into the future !

  6. The way I would approach this if I were Skeenz would be to have a summer-long storyline where Heart and Dean are in some sort of competition to qualify for a special Arts and Science school, and they both succeed, and suddenly you’re in the new world with an entirely different kind of characters that would be as diverse as ever you like. One strip is hardly fair, but what it looks like now is Archie Jr. and the “Guide to Surviving Middle School” sounds lame as hell to me.

  7. I hate the changes in style. I understand the diversity changes and agree.However I will stop reading due to the style. I can’t tell who the characters are. The art appears cheap and lazy, zero detail. Spock ( the cat) will probably look like a mountain lion, not a street cat.

  8. As much as I loved the former, I dislike the new comic strip. Characters and their personalities and appearance were crafted over many years and became synonymous with the strip. Sadly, what used to be an enjoyable part of my day is now gone. So long, Heart. A real disappointment and shame.

  9. Your choice to completely change Heart of the City, is not good, at least to me. I know I am only one person, but your comic will be lost forever with your new new artist. Sorry you don’t see it. Good luck!!

  10. I, too, was confused when I saw the new artwork for Heart of the City since Mark Tatulli’s name is on the strip. Please!!!! It’s no longer possible to even know who the characters are, since there is no resemblance at all to their former selves. It’s nice to hand over the reins to a new artist, but there is also a lot to be said for continuity.

  11. I’m not understanding the concept. Strips change artists – Snuffy Smith, Nancy, Dick Tracy, Little Orphan Annie, Mallard Filmore, Sally Forthy, Beetle Bailey, etc, but the new cartoonist keeps some sort of semblance to the drawing style. Sometimes it changes a bit and it takes some getting used to, but this is a whole new strip. I understand they wanted to keep the newspaper clients and readers but this may do more harm than good. IMHO.

  12. Sorry. The new style seems cramped and the characters are indistinguishable from one another. Taking it off my go comics reading list. To be fair I’ll give it a week but I don’t see any future for this crap style. Mark’s drawings had an innocence and joy to them. It is clearly missing from the new “style”.

  13. sorry but I dont’ like the new style. lacks character and as someone else pointed out the characters are indistinguishable

  14. Give it time. When the strip started out, things changed as Tatulli found his footing. The new artist has qualities the strip’s creator found appealing, and the look of the strip will probably change over the coming weeks. Let it jell for a while.

  15. I thought the Apr. 28 strip was just an experiment. Sorry it is permanent. It will be hard to follow the new characters in their new visage. Please be sure your readers know which characters are which and maybe the criticism will not be so adamant. I will be waiting to see if the story lines follow the soul of Heart of the City.

  16. I was caught off guard with this change. As far as I’m concerned, this is just as bad as when Guy Gilchrist stopped doing Nancy. I don’t go all over to find out what’s going on. As for other changes with different cartoonists, they continued with the original appearances of the characters. But there were subtable differences, but they tried to keep to similar plot lines. I’m sorry to say this, but I’m dropping Heart from my list.

  17. Horrific change. Stiff images with soulless eyes that don’t portray any of the joy or wonder that made this such an endearing strip. Should have probably just pushed it 20 years into the future and had Heart make her debut on Broadway so the strip could end on a positive note. The city has lost its Heart.

  18. This is one of the most egregious changes to a much loved strip I have experienced…to the point I would rather skip over it. It’s banal, the great art work is gone, which was one of the greatest elements. Nice try…no cigar. This is horrible.

  19. Bad! Bad! Bad! People want the characters we grew to love. You’ve just lost me as a reader. Who are those people anyway? Why didn’t the new artist just create her own strip? Booooo to change like that!

  20. For years I looked forward to seeing what Heart and Dean were up to. No longer. The wholesale alteration of the characters bears absolutely no resemblance to the characters that attracted a large readership.
    Character aging isn’t the issue as Luann, Jeremy in Zits and Gene in Arlo and Janis have aged and retained strong followings.
    For me, Heart has joined Nancy as strips I no longer look at, less alone look forward to or enjoy. It’s a sad day. I think you made a huge mistake Mark.

  21. It’s been said and I second the sentiment – [D]ifferent cartoonists, … continued with the original appearances of the characters.

    That’s what should have been done here. As it is, I feel like I am reading Judge Parker – I don’t know who any of these people are and I don’t really much care.

  22. The new ‘Heart’ is horrible…it is NOT remotely like the original…Heart and Dean were 2 of my favorite comic strip characters…they were cute (did not really like them in Middle School) and sharp and sassy and I looked forward to reading Heart every day…I will no longer even read it any more…so sad at a time when we need a little happiness.

  23. Perhaps the new artist will come into her own, but the strip should have a new name to go with the new look. As it is now, the strip is NOT Heart of the City. And I am not a fan of whatever it is now. Long live Mark Tatulli.

  24. The change to Heart of the City is terrible. Not at all the same comic strip. I loved Heart and Dean’s relationship, her relationship with her mom and her housekeeper, and that’s all gone. I won’t be reading it any longer.

  25. I,too, am so disappointed at the changes in “Heart of the City”! Heart and Dean were such refreshing characters and who wouldn’t want a Mrs. Angellini in their life? Sadly, while I wish the new illustrator much success, I will be moving on to other comics. Oh, got the days of “Calvin and Hobbes”……. Sigh……..?

  26. So disappointed in seeing one of our favourite comic strips turning into unrecognizable bloated faces and bodies characters.
    Truly a shame the Heart of the City so many loved, has been destroyed like this in just a matter of days.

  27. One of my favorites was Heart in the City. I liked when she aged and all her adventures but this complete change is very strange and definitely not as enjoyable. Maybe a slight semblance of the previous is called for and currently I find it hard to tell what character is what and they are sort of crammed together in each cel.

  28. I really HATE this change. The artist is talented but should have her own strip and not totally change a long standing and loved strip. This will be the one strip on my comics page I don’t read.

  29. I must say, I really feel sorry for Christina Stewart.

    It’s beyond doubt she has talent, and I really wish her the best. However, this way of entering the scene is probably the most terrible I can imagine.

    No matter how beautiful a piece of art you are capable of making, if you destroy an already known and appreciated treasure in the process, some people are going to hate you and your works.

    Let me put it this way: Most of us like roast pork, and most of like chocolate. But if we are served roast pork, and it taste like chocolate, alarm bells are ringing: Something is wrong!

    And that is exactly what happens here. We expect something we love and admire, and are given something completely different. Few takes the time to consider if this new appearance is good or not, it is simply not what we expected, and we choke on it.

    Sorry Christina, I liked Heart. This is not Heart.

  30. Sorry, I just don’t like the change of artists for Heart of the city.

  31. Why must everything good change? I haven’t read Heart and the City since my paper took it out of the funnies section but that doesn’t mean we need some young person to make it hip and groovy. I remember when they cancelled Beverly Hillbillies despite it having record ratings and sometimes people need to stop overthinking things and just let it go on. mark Titulli should continue.

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