This month, we have been treated the latest offering from multitalented illustrator Lizzy Stewart. Well-versed in many mediums including comics and children’s books, her latest graphic novel Walking Distance does exactly what it says on the tin by examining the seemingly mundane activity of walking. This is far from the case however as Stewart takes the reader on a journey of reflection and self-discovery.
Though the activity is first related to her enjoyment of seeing women walking on the big screen (particularly in movies from the eighties) and the comfort this brings her, it soon takes on a deeper quality. There is a sense of freedom that comes from being in control of one’s direction and speed. The slightest change in routine or direction can completely alter the fabric of one’s journey in Stewart’s eyes. But fairly early on, a more reflective tone is taken as walking becomes an exercise in exploring her thoughts and consciousness, and how she views those around her. Various subjects are covered including identity, public perception, gender politics, age and more as Stewart finds herself separated from the part of her that is walking, leaving her wondering how those around her perceive her.
The success of this comic is owed significantly to Stewart’s wonderful art. In addition to doing a great presentation of London locations and giving the rather pedestrian act of walking a deeper complexity, there is something deeply personal that comes across on each page. Going for a monochromic approach as opposed to her best-known work, it gives the art a more personal touch and enhances the more introspective aspect of the narrative. Even a simple page showing the trouble with exercising and the frustration with having to do it takes on a very relatable quality that most people reading will find they have plenty in common with.
This is a terrific journey through the mind of a modern woman and gives a whole new dimension to the activity of walking. Recommended for anyone who likes a good bit of self-reflection and wants to see promising new talent step out of their comfort zone to produce something truly memorable.
Walking Distance is published on 24 October from Avery Hill Publishing (9781910395509, h/b, £10.99)