Tillie Walden’s work is some of my current favorite; it’s just plain terrific. I love her single-story online comics and books, and a few months ago I wrote about how excited I am for her next book, but until that comes out, I’m extremely happy to have her new webcomic On a Sunbeam to read. This webcomic focuses on a young girl, Mia, who’s a freshman in what seems like outer space high school? And no matter what she does, she can’t quite seem to keep out of trouble. The story takes place at two times: in the current story, Mia is working with a crew of other young people to restore space ruins, and in flashbacks we see her when she was still in school, in what looks like the events leading up to why she’s now working with that crew. The whole comic is completely gorgeous and very wonderfully written and takes place is a gorgeous and fascinating world. Tillie Walden is amazing and I’m so glad this comic exists for us to read.
On a Sunbeam, like so many of the best comics out today, is a slow burn, focusing on character moments and interpersonal relationships rather than on conflict and drama. Honestly, not really all that much happens in the first three chapters, which is most of what we currently have, but it’s nevertheless super freaking compelling. Walden knows how to make characters that seem real and seem interesting and knows how to draw them in a way that hooks you in and won’t let go. Even when things start happening, it’s not really because there are bad guys or some big quest; it’s just pretty normal kid drama, or you know, what would be normal if you lived in the future in outer space.
I want to know everything about this future that On A Sunbeam is taking place in, it’s so flippin’ cool! I want to know about these fish-shaped spaceships. I want to know more about this weird outer space high school. I really want to know about all of these religions that were started when people started living in space. I definitely want to know how and why kids have so much independence and responsibility in outer space. It’s all so cool! And I feel like it’s a type of future in space that I haven’t seen before.
But I also want to know more about these characters. I want to know about Grace — what happened to her necklace and what does she mean when she says it has her power in it? I want to know more about Alma and Char’s relationship. I want to know why Grace has her own room. I want to know what changed to make Mia act the way she did. I want to know everything! I hope that after reading this, you’ll want to know everything too.
Walden is far and away one of the best cartoonists working today. She crafts such simple stories and images, but they hold universes of emotion and meaning. On a Sunbeam has one of the most interesting and compelling future worlds and character rosters of any comic I’m reading right now. This comic doesn’t have a lot of color, which is a common style she uses, but the little splashes of color are so incredibly powerful; this comic just absolutely comes alive with each bit of color that’s on the page. But even when she’s not using color like this, she’s still able to create beautiful spacescapes and ruins with her distinct style. Basically, you can be sure that each panel of this comic, and all comics by Walden, will be completely visually arresting. If you read On a Sunbeam and enjoy it like I do, you can donate to support it or you can support Tillie Walden on Patreon.
New Releases (October 26)
Welcome to Drawn to Comics! From diary comics to superheroes, from webcomics to graphic novels – this is where we’ll be taking a look at comics by, featuring and for queer ladies. So whether you love to look at detailed personal accounts of other people’s lives, explore new and creative worlds, or you just love to see hot ladies in spandex, we’ve got something for you.
If you have a comic that you’d like to see me review, you can email me at mey [at] autostraddle [dot] com.