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