Tillie Walden – A City Inside
Tillie Walden’s new book, A City Inside, is an ode to the ebb and flow of living; it says that growth is a process, not a matter of time.
It’s a universally appealing piece of work that operates on lyrical narration and softly sequenced imagery, demonstrating the balance Walden can strike within the interplay of words and pictures. She paces her story with confidence. Her pieces of prose pull readers through the book as they float in succession, yet play so well into the images and panel compositions that they assure you read these bits in tandem with what Walden has drawn.
Her line art conveys both tangled vegetation and precise city landscapes. Walden wants us to attend to the thought that we age in physical spaces, whether they be farms, beds or offices. She suggests that locations both free and confine us, and that settings once habitable can turn toxic, or vice versa. In general, her setting selections diligently illustrate this concept, but it’s Walden’s exact lines that create these settings. They imbue texture and the hand that made them. They speak to where characters live and to why characters chose to live there, and how such decisions inform their lives.
Walden’s main character, a young woman, could be an analogue for the author, yet she’s neutral enough to represent us all. Again, the author strikes a balance. She provides the woman enough of a past, as well as a love interest to enable her to stand on her own, yet these attributes are not too specific, so that she’s not defined as someone particular. This appeases Walden’s grander interest in universal appeal while still lending some shape to the emotions within the story.
A City Inside is impressive because it says what’s on its mind so clearly, while maintaining a fluid, dream-like flow that other comics exploit to be flirtatiously vague.