Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard The Walking Dead has quite a legacy. Along with a 193-issue run, the comic also inspired a fan-favorite TV show and several video games. The Telltale Game games introduced fans of the series to new characters, including Clementine. Audiences now have the opportunity to follow Clementine’s adventures in Tillie Walden’s latest graphic novel, Clementinean engaging yet simple survival story.
Clementine is about the titular character fighting their way through the apocalypse. After receiving help from an Amish community, she reluctantly partners with Amos, who is on his first trip out into the world. Together they encounter other survivors trying to build their own community without Walker, but safety is hard to come by in this scary version of the world.
As a spin-off comic, Clementine is truly remarkable because readers don’t need to know anything about video games, TV shows, or even original comics. While fans of The Walking Dead will definitely appreciate Clementine Because they can explore this apocalypse further, new readers can get to grips with this world without the stress of needing to know everything. There are details about Clementine’s past that aren’t fully explored here, but they don’t need to be. Readers are given just enough information about Clementine’s story to spark intrigue.
There are many zombie stories out there, and many authors fall into the trap of trying to revolutionize the genre. Walden, on the other hand, works with the basics of a classic zombie apocalypse and focuses on the characters and their perspectives. Amos, in particular, brings a unique perspective to Clementine. He lived a sheltered life before the apocalypse and for most of the apocalypse, so seeing his view of the world is a breath of fresh air. It’s easy to focus on grizzled, cynical protagonists in apocalyptic tales. So the addition of someone so innocent and hopeful about the future is refreshing and a pleasant reminder that we should not lose hope even in the darkest of situations. This, coupled with Clementine’s survival instincts, helps Walden strike a nice balance between realism and optimism.
This is not an action-oriented zombie apocalypse. Walden pays more attention to humans, which works in his favor. The few action-and-thrill moments pay off more because the audience is attached to these characters and because Walden has lulled the reader into a false sense of security. Reader shock mirrors the characters, making it even easier to empathize with the heroes in Clementine. There is always the underlying notion that nothing is really sure in the world of The Walking Dead. Walden’s writing is incredibly effective at creating tension, shock, and the illusion of security.
Of course, it would be a shame not to mention Walden’s work. Consistently, Walden is able to craft characters and worlds that thrive on simplicity. In doing so, there is an innocence to Walden’s work, which intensifies the emotions his characters express. Along with that, it makes the horror of The Walking Dead scarier, as zombies are still a threat and human threats shatter whatever comfort audiences have taken in the peaceful, tender art. It’s heartbreaking to see sentimental characters pushed over the edge and hurt, so readers feel more empathy for them because of Walden’s art.
Walden’s decision to render the comic in black and white leads to captivating uses of light and shadow. Where the characters are drawn simply, the environment seems inhabited. The use of monochromatic colors, shading, and line art creates a world that can feel expansive one moment and claustrophobic the next. There are layers to the environment, and the use of light, in particular, helps convey the feelings the characters go through in the scenes – whether it’s impending doom, anger accumulated or a glimmer of hope.
Walden is an outstanding storyteller, both as a writer and an artist. There’s a simplicity to her work that fosters character-driven pieces that readers can fully invest in. We’ve seen it in her creative work, and it’s just as exciting to watch her perform in someone else’s world. It brings a breath of fresh air to a major franchise that’s been around for years, and reminds readers just how fun it can be to explore an established world through new eyes. Clementine Book 1 got us excited for the second book and for everything Walden has in store for us next – whether it’s an original story or his exploration of another popular franchise.