Publisher: Avery Hill Publishing
Writer/Artist: Tillie Walden
Release Date: 14th November, 2015 (Thought Bubble Festival)
I’d heard nothing but good things about Tillie Walden’s debut offering, The End of Summer, so felt compelled to grab myself a copy of the follow-up, I Love This Part, at this year’s Thought Bubble Festival in Leeds. The story introduces us to two small town girls, hanging out and killing time together as they try to get through their days at school. Swapping songs, watching videos, sharing silly observations; everything should be familiar enough to anyone who has ever been young – which, I’m assuming, is all of us.
The book begins with a light-hearted tone, playful and uplifting in places, perfectly encapsulating the innocent back-and-forth of young friendship. Things that wouldn’t otherwise be significant take on a whole new level of importance when you’re young, making everything seem bigger somehow than it actually is – something that Walden mirrors in a more physical manner with her artwork, showing the girls towering over buildings and landscapes as they idly chat away.
Gradually, we become aware that the friendship between the pair is starting to change somewhat. Just what is the line between friendship and love? When you’re young, that line can sometimes become blurred, and that’s one of the main themes that runs throughout the book. Innocent conversations start to become punctuated by bigger questions, questions like “do you love me?”, and the tone of the book subtly shifts accordingly.
Walden’s artwork, with its simplistic, monochromatic palette and expressive characters, works an absolute treat in conveying the story. Her layout choice also adds an intriguing aesthetic to the book. Each page is a panel on its own, providing a series of chronological snapshots of the girls’ relationship; a scrapbook of their friendship through good times and bad. It’s an impressive effect, and while those looking for a smoothly flowing story may find it a little jarring, the effect of time passing as we watch their relationship ebb and flow is utterly mesmerising.
The final pages are nothing short of heartbreaking, and Walden does a truly fantastic job of conveying these crippling, multi-layered emotions in such a deceptively straightforward way. This is a story that is likely to resonate with a great many readers, and while it delivers its message with a gut-punch of emotion, there’s still an innocent sense of charm in the overall package. Based on what I’ve seen here, Tillie Walden is most certainly a creator to keep an eye out for in the future, and I’m going to make it my personal mission to seek out anything she puts her pen to from here on in.
I Love This Part is available from the Avery Hill website, priced just £8.50.
[Click to Enlarge]