'It Would Have Changed My Life': Questions For Cartoonist Tillie Walden

Tillie Walden's graphic memoir, Spinning, won a prestigious Eisner Award this summer. She says she wishes she'd had a book like it when she was young and coming to terms with her sexuality.
Walden says she relied on muscle memory to depict the jumps and twirls in Spinning. Source: Tillie Walden

Tillie Walden is only 22 years old, but she's already published six graphic novels. Her work often features young female protagonists — sometimes herself — coming of age. This year alone, her graphic memoir Spinning won the Eisner Award for Best Reality-Based Work, and her webcomic On a Sunbeam was published in book format.

Spinning is Walden's goodbye — of sorts — to her adolescence as a competitive figure skater. Starting with her growing disillusionment with the costumes, the judging, the culture of competition, Walden depicts her decision to quit for good, just as she was also coming to terms with being gay.

She tells me it wasn't easy to explore that part of her past — when she first tried, she says, she froze. "I physically couldn't draw myself on the ice, I was getting so stressed out.

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