Publisher: Image Comics (Skybound Comet Imprint)
Story/Artwork: Tillie Walden
Release Date: 22nd June 2022
When I first heard that Image Comics imprint Skybound were planning on launching ‘Comet’, a brand new YA and Middle Grade imprint of their own, and doing so with a story set in the world of Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead, I’ll admit to being a little bit skeptical. However, when I heard that it was going to be written and illustrated by none other than Tillie Walden, that initial doubt quickly turned to giddy excitement.
For those unfamiliar with Walden’s extensive multi Eisner award-winning back catalogue, including the likes of Spinning, On a Sunbeam and I Love This Part, this may be the perfect book to introduce yourself to the talented young cartoonist’s knack for strikingly detailed artwork and rich, emotional narrative.
The decision to base this new story around fan-favourite Clementine, the star of the Telltale Games TWD series, is absolutely inspired, and fits perfectly into Walden’s wheelhouse. A coming-of-age survival horror story is a fantastic idea, and watching Clem growing up in this harsh world having already experienced so much tragedy at a young age makes for a truly fascinating read.
The story sees Clementine stumbling across an Amish camp and befriending a naïve young man named Amos, accompanying him on a trip to an abandoned ski resort in Vermont. There they encounter a group of teenagers trying to build a new settlement, and all manner of friendships, conflicts and potential romances ensue.
The great thing about releasing this story in the graphic novel format is that Walden is given ample time to establish the supporting characters and the new status quo over the course of the 240-odd pages. The cast is kept intentionally small, and while Clem herself definitely takes centre stage, it’s fascinating watching the dynamics between her and the other teenagers form, evolve and fracture throughout the book.
On the visual side of things, Walden does a typically strong job with the artwork, packing her pages with scratchy detail and impressive levels of expression and emotion. What’s particularly interesting about Walden’s style is the way it ebbs and flows throughout the course of the book, with some sequences feeling looser, almost sketchbook-like, and others – such as Clementine’s frequent flashbacks to the traumatic events of the Telltale Games series – really ramping up the level of detail and artistic flair.
As those familiar with her previous work might expect, it’s the smaller, human aspects of the story that are the most interesting, and Walden’s knack for relatable young adult dialogue and personal drama is given ample opportunity to really flourish here. A seventeen year old girl trying to figure out exactly who she is in a world like this makes for a truly relatable protagonist, and it’s fascinating to watch Clem grappling internally to reconcile her self-reliance and vulnerability.
While it may not feature quite the same level of violence and gore as the main Walking Dead series, Walden’s story definitely still packs the same amount of emotional punch, packed as it is with life-and-death moments, teeth-clenching tension and snapshots of the absolute worst aspects of human nature. Oh, and quite a bit of violence and gore too, come to think of it.
A fantastic addition to the wider Walking Dead world, the long-awaited return of a fan-favourite character, and a supremely talented cartoonist at the absolute top of her game. Highly recommended.
[PREVIEW ARTWORK – CLICK TO ENLARGE]