Comic Book Review: Lumberjanes #58
Do you like things that are awesome? How about heartwarming adventures in the great outdoors? Magic? Friendship? Lumberjanes might just be a comic for you.
Lumberjanes follows the adventures of a handful of girls at summer camp. It sounds like a pretty normal setup, however, there’s nothing simple about this camp. The scouts of Roanoke cabin – Mal, Molly, Jo, April, Ripley, and their counselor Jen – soon discover mystery, mythological beasts, folklore, pocket universes, and hijinks galore. In this issue, for example, the girls encounter Selkies, “Seal Folk” of Scottish folklore, who change into humans by shedding their fur skin.
Lumberjanes is an All-Ages comic, written specifically for a target audience of 10-16 year old girls. As a guy born in the mid-80’s, I am absolutely not their main target demographic. That said, it’s easily my favorite All-Ages comic, and one of my favorite current books, period. It’s a breath of optimism in an age that media (comics included) is overrun with negativity, cynicism, and pessimism. It’s “feel good reading” at a time when that sort of thing is in short supply.
In issue 58, written by co-creator Shannon Watters (Senior Editor of BOOM! Studios) and Kat Leah (Bravest Warriors), April plans a surprise birthday party for Jo, while Mal keeps the birthday girl busy. It’s a classic TV sitcom trope, executed in pure Lumberjanes fashion. Mal takes Jo, Jen, and Barney – a refugee from a nearby boy’s camp – on a river rafting trip, and attempts to fake stranding them on a small island. The plan goes awry when Mal’s backup raft goes missing, before the girls run into the aforementioned Selkies. It’s a quintessential recipe for this comic: start with a standard summer camp activity, add good spirited hijinks, and sprinkle in a dash of the supernatural.
Art on the series has been a revolving door since the beginning, allowing newcomer talents to showcase their unique styles. As far as I can tell, this is the first published comic book work for artist AnneMarie Rodgers. Rodgers talent lies in conveying narrative and emotion with a styled simplicity that would be at home in the world of web comics, and it works well for this book.
If there’s a negative to be said for this issue, it’s that it doesn’t work well as an entry point, relying a bit too much on the reader being familiar with previous backstory. Issue 58 might be the start of a new multi-part story, but for the new arrivals to the Miss Qiunzella Thiskwin Penniquiqul Thistle Crumpet’s Camp for Hardcore Lady Types, it might be a bit confusing. Still, there’s never a bad time to start something as enjoyable as Lumberjanes.
Lumberjanes #58 hits stands on January 16th, 2019.