Lumberjanes #1 kicks off a spirited tale about a group of young friends who discover the magic of summer camp together, pitting them against the likes of feisty foxes and mysterious bear-women even as they deal with more mundane tribulations like long-suffering camp counselors and trying not to get caught for breaking cabin rules.
Kudos to BOOM!, via their BOOM!Box imprint, for not just an all-lady cast of characters but also an all-lady creative team on Lumberjanes. Artist Brooke Allen is a particular stand-out — her illustrations have a whimsical feel that remind me of my favourite children’s books. While Allen’s style does recall the art of co-writer Noelle Stevenson (who readers might know from her popular Tumblr blog, gingerhaze), the work here has a less polished, slightly rougher edge — right down to the hand-drawn panels — that just adds to this comic’s quirky charm. The action scenes do feel helter-skelter at times but that might simply be a consequence of the sheer number of characters involved in those pages: not just the five titular teenage Lumberjanes but also a veritable fleet of magical foxes.
Certainly, the comic’s visuals more than deliver in assembling a cast of diverse young people. Each character looks different from the next, from skin tone to hairstyle to clothing choices. Writing-wise, some personalities are an immediate stand out — like hyper Ripley who spouts such memorable lines as “what wacked up eyes you have / all the better to punch you in! yeah!” but others might need more exposition to feel distinct. Character development does take a bit (only a bit) of a back seat because there is so much else happening in this comic. But the effort taken to build up the foundations of a diverse cast — and to have them all constantly interacting and playing off each other — is clear and to be commended.
We do get a lot of fun moments and dialogue beats from writers Grace Ellis and Noelle Stevenson. The reference to a “Little Red formation” to battle the foxes made me smile and the running joke of camp head Rosie’s inability to remember counselor Jen’s name properly was an amusing (if not exactly novel) way of giving those two characters some depth despite their brief appearances.
If nothing else, Lumberjanes #1 delivers enough action and plot to show the reader what kind of comic it aims to be: one depicting young women with agency, having them work together — and never against each other — to unravel mysteries and have adventures. It also shatters any artificial boundaries dictating who should or should not be reading comics. With its quirky cast of characters, relatable summer camp setting and the underlying theme of friendship, Lumberjanes will likely appeal to anyone who wants a fun, positive, all-ages story to look forward to every month.
- you’re looking for a plot-driven comic about female friendship;
- you want a light read to kick off the countdown to summer
Rating: 7.5 out of 10.
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