The latest graphic novel by Tillie Walden is out right this moment with Clementine: Ebook One, which is ready inside The Strolling Lifeless universe and centered round a personality who has to-date principally appeared in video video games.
That is, primarily, the primary main addition to The Strolling Lifeless in comics because the principal collection led to July 2019. It’s additionally the launch of a brand new YA imprint from writer Skybound — dubbed Skybound Comet — and Walden’s first new authentic e-book since Are You Listening? hit in 2019 (not lengthy, coincidentally, after the aforementioned finish to The Strolling Lifeless), except for a group of older materials.
Immediately’s e-book launch is, merely put, a really huge deal. The Strolling Lifeless has grown from a creator-owned comedian right into a veritable media empire, one of many medium’s single largest success tales previously twenty years. Walden, in the meantime, is a critically-beloved multiple-Eisner and multiple-Ignatz award-winning cartoonist, who at not even 30 years outdated is already an enormous star and one of the achieved creators within the trade.
And whereas The Strolling Lifeless and Tillie Walden are maybe not the obvious mixture, Clementine: Ebook One is a completely improbable learn, a must-read graphic novel that appears poised to enchantment in equal components to Walden’s viewers in addition to to followers of The Strolling Lifeless and simply zombie/survivalist fiction typically. Prematurely of the e-book’s launch, Tillie Walden generously made time to talk with The Beat about how she got here to work on this e-book, the inventive decisions that helped kind it, and the place she was in a position to join this world and its pre-existing character to her personal pursuits and her coronary heart.
Maybe the very first thing that struck me about Clementine: Ebook One was all of the methods it felt totally different from Walden’s previous work. Clearly, this e-book is about zombies, however previous that, Walden’s two most up-to-date graphic novels use ethereal backgrounds and form of haunting architectural types to create authentic aesthetics that really feel wholly new. From Clementine’s first web page, this story is way extra grounded in actuality, coming throughout as nearly rustic.
Walden stated that whereas illustrating the e-book’s setting was initially an adjustment, it’s not in the end as dissimilar to her different work as it could initially appear:
“In loads of my previous work, I positively relied on the fantastical factor of environments, and The Strolling Lifeless is traditionally a collection that’s grounded in actuality, which is humorous to say for a e-book that entails so many zombies, however it’s. It was a little bit of an adjustment however I feel I took my love of the ethereal and tried to use it in other places. I believed quite a bit about how I drew the snow within the e-book, and the way I drew the cabin they keep in. Though I had to attract the actual world, I did attempt to attract it in a means that felt true to how I’ve traditionally drawn environments.
“I nonetheless assume there’s one thing sort of dreamy about being on a mountain, there’s one thing haunting about it. I dwell not removed from the place the e-book takes place, so I used to be utilizing the world exterior my window for lots of my reference photographs, which was enjoyable as a result of on loads of my different initiatives I haven’t been ready to do this.”
Talking of that mountain setting, that was one of many foundational components of Walden’s work on Clementine. When Skybound requested her to tackle this challenge, Walden says a part of why she stated sure was that she had an concept that may let her mix the character from the video video games with items of her personal life. The mountain setting was a giant a part of that, provided that Walden had just lately moved again to Vermont after loads of time away. She notes:
“I had by no means actually touched this state or this surroundings in any of my tales. I used to be feeling instantly impressed by coming again to Vermont, settling down right here — I purchased a home, I bought married — I actually felt like that is going to be my dwelling for the following 30 years, 50 years, what does it really feel wish to dwell right here?
“Then I merged that concept with what I learn about Clementine from the video games. It was an curiosity I had on the time, and I couldn’t consider any time in The Strolling Lifeless they’d carried out loads of mountain stuff…
“I used to be actually enamored with the thought of what it will be wish to be buried in snow with out the technique of the fashionable world. You don’t have loads of heat garments, there are nonetheless walkers round which might be actually laborious to take care of, and I additionally assume the snow making a barrier between you and the world will be actually comforting. I felt comforted by the winters in Vermont since you really feel tucked away, and I wished to see what that may be like for Clementine.”
What grew from these curiosity is a e-book that feels prefer it nearly lives between two totally different survivalist genres: arctic and zombie. It’s a mix, although, that comes collectively seamlessly, enjoying to Walden’s strengths whereas feeling additive to The Strolling Lifeless, as properly. On prime of that, Walden creates new characters for this story which might be slightly memorable.
A kind of characters is Amos, a younger man from an Amish neighborhood who’s shifting by way of The Strolling Lifeless’s world with a optimistic disposition that feels inherently at odds with it. This, Walden notes, was intentional. She wished to put in writing a personality for this e-book who despite all of the terrible was in a position to keep cheery.
“[Amos] nonetheless form of believes there may be hope in each nook, there may be hope round each Walker, and I felt it will be an attention-grabbing distinction to Clementine. Though I don’t assume Clementine is a hopeless character, I feel the trauma she skilled in her youthful years — and we noticed what that was by way of the video games — has left her feeling like she isn’t allowed to be hopeful. So, Amos as a personality was there to be not likely a foil to Clementine, however to indicate her there’s a strategy to stroll by way of the world with positivity, even when positivity doesn’t truly make any sense as a result of the world is not sensible and violent.”
Whereas Clementine: Ebook One is meant to be the launch title of a brand new YA graphic novel imprint, it definitely doesn’t really feel restricted to a YA viewers. I feel followers of any of Walden’s different books will get pleasure from this one as properly, and I additionally assume it should enchantment to readers who’ve been lacking new Strolling Lifeless comics over the previous few years.
There are zombies in every single place and the themes are complicated and nuanced. I wished to ask Walden about one recurring theme specifically: when to be sincere about your self and with which individuals. This was a theme culled from Walden’s personal teenage experiences.
“After I was the age of those characters, I bear in mind how intense the stakes felt when it got here to sharing who I used to be with different individuals. Some individuals don’t have social nervousness, they only stroll by way of the world and inform you their story, however I feel for me and loads of different youngsters round me, how we offered ourselves to others was — it nearly felt like life or loss of life typically. It felt actually essential, it felt like the results might be enormous if I say the fallacious factor or if somebody misunderstands me.
I really feel like for a bunch of youngsters who’re all vastly traumatized and deeply alone as a result of so lots of them have misplaced a lot of their households and their communities, they usually’re wandering by way of the world — I really feel like how they share who they’re with one another is integral to how they develop up. How they’re studying to open up to one another is what makes it a coming of age story to me, total.”
From a craft perspective, one of the noticeable variations between Clementine and different Walden books like On A Sunbeam is the quantity of dialogue. I used to be curious whether or not having a lot extra textual content required a distinct means of working.
Whereas Walden didn’t change her course of considerably, it did result in adjustments later.
“If I’m not drawing whereas I’m writing, I don’t really feel like I can write one thing actually good. I penciled the e-book and wrote the dialogue on the identical time, however as a result of the e-book is so heavy on dialogue — it doesn’t have narration and dialogue is without doubt one of the main driving forces within the story — I rewrote perhaps all of the dialogue after the primary spherical of edits. Then I feel I rewrote one other 30 p.c of it once more. The re-writing course of was intensive…my course of didn’t change, and but I had so as to add on this further step of actually ensuring the dialogue was working for me, was actually going someplace.
I’m accustomed to writing conversations which might be just like the way in which I draw backgrounds. They’re form of ethereal, they’re speaking in a means that’s sort of stylistic, not essentially filled with content material. It was laborious, however I did notice by way of this e-book that I do have it in me to put in writing good dialogue, which made me really feel actually good. Now that I’m engaged on Ebook 2 of Clementine, I’m hoping with the dialogue I’m writing I discovered one thing from Ebook 1.”
Walden was interested by taking over this challenge, she additionally famous, as a result of it offered new constraints, which in themselves could be a form of freedom. With Clementine, she had a longtime character, and the job was to contend together with her complete historical past whereas serving to to additionally form her future. That problem was a inventive kick Walden says got here alongside at simply the fitting time in her profession.
But inside these constraints, she was capable of finding very private connections that in the end formed the story and proceed to take action now as she works on the second e-book (with a 3rd one to return, maybe at a tempo of 1 per yr).
“On the finish of the day I’ve definitely contended with my very own traumas in life and Clementine has too. When it got here to creating the e-book related to my coronary heart, it was about eager about how I’ve healed from my very own life and the way I may also help Clementine discover that therapeutic too, in methods each comparable and totally different from me.”
Clementine: Ebook One is out now by way of Skybound Comet.