In Tillie Waldens Clementine, the Walking Dead and queer coming-of-age collide

In Tillie Waldens Clementine, the Walking Dead and queer coming-of-age collide ...

Tillie Walden has been a one-of-a-kind, respected and acclaimed cartoonists of this century. From her sprawling queer science fiction novel On a Sunbeam to her intimate autobiography of Spinning since releasing her first comic The End of Summerin 2015.

Over the years, comics and graphic novels about queer people, particularly YA titles, have become more popular and popular. In 2021, book shops sold 30,698,081 comics, more than between 2004 and 2020. That means more people than ever are buying and reading comics. There have been several changes to this one Summer, including Gender Queer, The Witch Boy, and They Called Us Enemy.

Webcomics have long been a space for queer stories, but the massive Kickstarter success of Ngozi UkazusCheck, Please! the second volume of which became an NYT bestseller paved the way for even more queer stories, including the massive print success of Webtoons like Lore Olympus (featuring several queer characters) and Heartstopper (gay romance), NYT bestsellers both. Difficult literary publishers and webcomics have dubbed queer heroes,

Walden and her catalog have played a pivotal role in this landscape. With the upcoming release ofClementine: Book One, Walden discovers a new world: long-form licensed comics. She talks about her rise alongside the comics industry, and how they have changed so far.

While visiting a local library with her dad, Walden expressed his admiration for the medium. The simple line art, the beautiful story, and these beautiful backgrounds, all made me smile. trauma and religion inspired me to do so.

Although she was a cartoonist, shonen stories like Dragon Ball Zand YuYu Hakusho were some of Walden''s faves. I always thought if other lesbians found shoujo sooner, because shonen really worked for me and I was a tomboy. But I also feel like other people would have loved shoujo if they had found it sooner. She does not believe that Clementine should have taken too much of it.

Scott McCloud, who joined Tezuka on comics, said at the end of the workshop that he was always patient. He was kind and compassionate and kept her motivated. He taught me so much, but I learned to be confident. He was gentle and helpful. He taught me a lot, taught me so well, so you should always practice comics. It was a wonderful day. I had a wonderful time getting married, and I made some changes.

Walden has released six graphic novels and a kids picture book for the first time, winning two Ignatz awards, and an LA Times book prize, all of whom are nominated for many more and for good reason. Walden''s work feels profound in the way in which she takes your space, without saying why you need to be here or making it dramatic or sad. It''s funny, although I like making books at that pace.

Walden''s in-depth explorations of love, the cosmos, and coming-of-age can be profoundly grateful for her unique illustration skills and unique choices, but shes quick to counteract that notion: Im not cool! With the upcoming release of Clementine: Book One, the situation might all be quite different. Still, taking on the high-profile queer video game character felt it wasn''t a gear shift for Walden. For me, it felt very natural.

Clementine was first introduced in Season 1 of Telltales The Walking Dead: Season 1. She was only 8 years old when the zombie epidemic started, and that dark past has led her to become an effective killer and badass survivor. Clementine was confirmed as queer when players were able to select if she could have a relationship with a boy or girl. It was a journey that sparked interest for many fans.

Clementines was diagnosed with depression at the age of five, but another aspect of the character offered more of a challenge in research and listening. Ive talked to a lot of people to learn about living as a narcissist, because it is a different experience for her and how she navigates the world.

For Walden, learning about Clemetines queerness was both natural and exciting. My own experiences of my own trauma have helped inform it, and thats been really fun. Its also been really fun to think about what it feels like to be this queer person in a world that is so fresh and so reborn and so neglected in so many ways, but also enriched with so many opportunities.

For example, this notion of a broken world that might become a better one is critical to the appeal of zombie storytelling and dystopian fiction in general. I believe it is a very weird fantasy to be like, I am here at the end of the world and I get to remake the world in my own image now, which is really, really special, according to Walden. Its an idea that also resonates in the context of the fact that the Walking Dead universe would reintroduce the sheer amount of disability that would arise

One of Walden''s beliefs that has caused the most controversy online was that she allowed Clementine to exist outside of her badass abilities. So, when she came to me, I saw all of her strength and became such a kind of character. Now her next badass step is to cope or let it destroy her, because that''s what she does. And then learn to recover from that.

In this way, the intricate black-and-white graphic novel is quite similar to what made The Walking Dead so popular. I still get to see Clementine as the villains in a dangerous and brutal manner, but she also like every key character in the series has to struggle to keep her humanity among the consequences. It is a natural journey, I believe, for a child of the apocalypse to eventually begin to realize your mortality and your past, especially when things slow down.

As queer stories become more prevalent and mainstream at every level of publishing, does Walden feel that she has seen a change in the way queer stories are treated in comics? I think the change has occurred. Six years ago, there was much more emphasis on coming out.

Another thing that''s changed is who gets to make comics and pay to do so. I''m also aware that the queer graphic novels we were seeing were mostly white writers. I think that''s the same thing right now. Were getting queer stories from all queer people.

I feel like a cyclophobia exists for a lot of queer comics to focus on their pain. I feel like I am beginning to see a trend of queer people following Walden''s biggest wishes for the industry as it progresss. I hope that publishers will soon realize that they should not have to hire a person of color or queer person to just tell a story about their marginalization. They should just hire them and let them do whatever they want.

Although these changes are steps in the right direction, Walden feels there is still a way to go. She recalls instances in which she felt was asked to tick a box. However, she does have suggestions for how it might be improved. I think the next step is becoming more queer people and individuals of color who work in publishing, which is extremely predominantly straight and cisgender and white.

She feels comfortable. I have made incredible progress right now. I couldn''t be happier to be a cartoonist. I''ve never had anyone stop me from doing what I really wanted to do in my stories, but this is always the case, Weve come so far and we have so far to go.

Waldens has been a queer creator, but wants for the future of the comics industry speak to the widening issues in the entertainment industry, like a lack of distribution options for indie comics. So now it''s all about how we get these comics in more peoples hands. There''s also hope, as Walden reminds us that webcomics have been incredible for that!

The other thing on her mind is survival, and it has sparked debate over whether queer cartoonists like Walden, Wendy Xu, or Bianca Xunise have the potential to get six-figure deals. However, the time constraints put on them may be unrealistic. Finally, there is the issue of healthcare and stability. There is no system for my publishers to actually be my employer, according to Walden. That means no health care, no benefits, no paid holiday leave or support outside of the agreed payments

Ive talked to other cartoonists who have families and are attempting these next steps in life. Having these skills is really beneficial, and it''s one thing when youre single and young and healthy, and doing okay, but as time passes, it''s like, What is comics giving back to us? It''s something I really struggle with, because my wife and I really want a family, but it''s like, How do we help them with this?

She continued, and while she gets your books out there when they are available, it''s fantastic. However, it feels like comics is a career without much of a safety net. I sometimes feel a little bit like these big book deals are misleading because they calm people down, making them feel that they were supported. In a variety of ways, this is a difficult task with very little effort.

So with all of the industry talk done, how does she feel now Clementine is almost out in the world? Walden said. Im excited for people and teens, especially those who don''t like zombies or don''t really know, to have a chance to interact with it and to have a sense of belonging to this genre of post-apocalyptic stories.

Clementine: Book Oneis is now available at comic book shops and digital platforms, and will be available everywhere else on June 28.