Cartoonist and illustrator Tillie Walden is the latest guest of the Lakes International Comic Art Festival Podcast, a comics creator with a track record of producing some amazing books, including The End of Summer, released in 2015 by Avery Hill Publishing and Spinning, released last year. She also makes the webcomic called On a Sunbeam.
Spinning, published by First Second Books, is a gargantuan memoir in which Walden revisits her adolescence through the lens of competitive figure skating.
For ten years, figure skating was Tillie’s life. She woke before dawn for morning lessons, went straight to group practice after school, and spent weekends competing in glitter and tights. It was a central piece of her identity, her safe haven from the stress of school, bullies and family.
But over time, as she switched schools, got into art and fell in love with her first girlfriend, she began to question how the closed-minded world of figure skating fit in with the rest of her life.
For the artist, the rink was a source of anxiety and social turmoil, but also peace, and as she began dealing with complicated teenage feelings – isolation, first love, a growing need for control – skating became more and more difficult. This powerful graphic memoir captures what it’s like to come of age, come out and come to terms with leaving behind everything you used to know.
The book was her first departure from fiction, and her first book aimed at young adults.
The podcast team delve into her short but amazing career, how it came to be and what drives her talent. They also discuss Spinning and the use of colours – plus, why she felt now was the right time to write about her childhood.
The team led by Ian Loxam and Nicole Bates also look back at 2017 and talk about their Top Ten graphic novels released last year – and then decide on their individual favourite, which may surprise you all.
The books they class as their personal Top Ten (in no particular order) are Kill or Be Killed Volume 2 (by Ed Brubaker & Sean Phillips), The Facts of Life (Paula Knight), Spinning (Tillie Walden), A Thousand Coloured Castles (Gareth Brookes), Mann’s Best Friend (Scarlett & Sophie Rickard), Livestock (Hannah Berry), Breaks Volume One (Emma Vieceli & Malin Ryden), Graphic Science (Darryl Cunningham), Becoming Unbecoming (Una) and Collecting Sticks (Joe Decie).
Pete and Mike continue their look into the best of 2017 with TV and movies at the end of the show.
In upcoming podcasts, look out for interviews with the team behind Gluepot Books, publishers of Mann’s Best Friend, Pete Taylor talks about how to create a comic, the Awesome Comics Podcast team are in the spotlight as their first anthology debuts, an Englishman in San Diego discusses conventions around the world, plus there will be chats with ace creator Rachel Smith and the team at Cinebook.
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• Lakes International Comic Art Festival: www.comicartfestival.com