By Cat Wyatt
Fans of Lumberjanes will be thrilled to have all of the short stories and single issues (so far) all in one place; Bonus Tracks. Included are some fantastic shorts, such as Beyond Bay Leaf, Makin’ The Ghost of It, Sphinxes and Riddles and Wishes Oh My!, Faire and Square, and finally Las Estrellas Del Campo: Edicion Lumberjanes. Being that these are primarily one-shot stories, the authors and artists for these issues vary pretty dramatically. But they all contain the characters we’ve come to know and love, so I’m happy with it!
Beyond Bay Leaf: This issue starts off with a bit of an ironic twist; Jen wants to go off on an adventure (stargazing), while the Roanokes want to stay in their cabin and sleep. Not very Lumberjanes-esque. Though I certainly understand being that level of tired.
In truth though, Jen should have known better than to drag these troublemakers out into the night – it was only a matter of time before they spotted something and ran off on her (which is almost exactly what happened). Ripley spots a ‘ghost pony’ and immediately takes off after it (because of course, she does), so naturally, the rest of the cabin follows suit. Leaving Jen behind to watch the equipment they so casually abandoned.
Ripley is insanely fast; no seriously, I mean it. In a matter of seconds, she’s out of sight of the rest of her cabin, which would probably have been scary for any kid other than her. However, Ripley is so focused on finding her ghost pony that she’s not terribly concerned about her own welfare, which sounds about right for her.
Ripley found her ghost pony (because of course that actually exists in these woods), while the rest of the cabin…they found Sola. A hunter living (?) in the woods. It’s pretty obvious just from her demeanor and mannerisms that something isn’t right with Sola. I personally don’t like the way she keeps talking about ‘completing the set’ by finding the missing Lumberjane. It’s just creepy.
The ghost pony’s tale is a sad one; actually, between the story and the way the pony is portrayed, she reminds me a lot of the Last Unicorn (I wonder if that was intentional). I don’t blame Ripley for wanting to help her new friend out. Also, remember how I said I didn’t trust Sola? This would be why.
In true Lumberjanes fashion, everything works out in the end, thanks to all of them working together. Ripley is offered something she almost can’t refuse, but in the end, ultimately choose to do the right thing. A great moral to the story, to be sure. Also, Sola may or may not have pulled a Mother Gothel in the end, so that was just a little bit graphic if you take the time to think about it.
The artwork for this issue is somewhat similar to the main style. You can see the differences, but they’re not jarring or in your face. The characters have longer faces, and there’s slightly more shading, but otherwise, the match is shockingly close.
Makin’ the Ghost of it: Once again, a surprise twist; Jen is the one forcing the girls out for an adventure once again. Granted, her idea of an adventure varies very wildly from the Lumberjanes ideas of adventure. Where they would rather be tracking down ghosts ponies, Jen wants to teach them about foraging and plant identification. Which is kind of cool, but I can see how they’d find it dull (and perhaps a little gross).
While wandering, Jen decides to tell the cabin about the local ghost story. This one I actually had no idea about, and it’s pretty cool. Apparently, there used to be a small mining town up in the mining, during the gold rush period. However, they ran short on food, causing some of the people to get desperate. One more than the rest; he would attack them with an ax, stealing their food (or worse – thankfully Jen only implies this rather than stating outright, but I’m sure everyone knew what she meant). Eventually, the man disappeared, and none of the surviving townsfolk were willing to talk about him. So the mystery will forever linger.
It’s no surprise that a couple of the Lumberjanes were especially freaked out by this story (I’m looking at you, Mal), and end up jumping at shadows for a bit. Or…are they? It would appear that something actually is stealing the food to the Lumberjanes campsite, though mostly it appears to be snack foods (clearly the ghost has good taste).
Using the surviving snacks as bait, the Roanoke cabin set a trap to catch the ‘ghost’ breaking into the camp to steal their food. Who they catch is quite a surprise, and should teach everyone a lesson or two about how careful we should be around unknown plants.
The artwork for this issue is a bit more playful than the standard style. With brighter colors and eyes that pop. I can’t help but feel like the artist might be particularly fond of April – as she appears to be significantly more attractive than normal (or maybe they just like redheads?). Everyone else looks cuter too, but it seems like April is the standout character here.
Sphinxes, Riddles, and Wishes, Oh My! This one is a lot shorter than the first two issues, though in some ways it’s actually funnier. This is the tale of how Ripley ‘rescued’ Jen after Jen’s big fall. The details of this story are up for debate, naturally, since Ripley may or may not be exaggerating some parts of it.
In Ripley’s tale, she claims that Jen just disappeared (when in truth I think she tripped and fell in a small hole, twisting her ankle), so Ripley was forced to go searching for her. On her search, she comes across a sphinx, who tasks her with answering a riddle in exchange for Jen’s whereabouts.
Again, the art style for this issue is shockingly similar to the typical style. There are some key differences, the characters have more rounded faces, and the details drop out in shorter distances. I enjoyed this style – it fits the nature of the comics perfectly.
Faire and Square: Stuck inside on a rainy day (something that must be even more dull than normal, for a cabin like the Roanokes), the Lumerjanes start a debate about Robin Hood. Is he a fox, like Ripley keep insisting (I’m sure we all know where she got that idea from), or a handsome man, like Molly would prefer to believe?
One member of the cabin is notably missing during this debate; April has gone out into the rain to help bring the kayaks in (because she can lift two at once – girls a beast). While out there she found a flier for a Nottingham Medival Faire. It takes only a small amount of begging to convince Jen to allow them to go.
While there the Roanokes make friends with a nice girl named Rowena, but she quickly disappears when Molly expresses her interest in the archery competition. Naturally, we can assume that Rowena is the masked figure that appears in time to give Molly a challenge. The archery contest would have made Robin Hood proud – that’s for sure. Both girls did wonderfully, but in the end, Molly was the winner (the girls a natural).
It’s here Rowena is forced to confess why she challenged Molly. The prize for winning the contest is a quest (weird prize, right?). The quest is to hunt down the local dragon that has been ‘terrorizing’ the people. The dragon is actually a pterodactyl, and he’s Rowena’s friend, which is why she’s been so concerned about him.
Naturally the Lumberjanes put their heads together in order to help Rowena and her friend; more importantly, they figure out how to get the little guy back home where he belongs. It’s a cute story, and I hope we see more of Rowena and the fair (though realistically I know that probably won’t happen).
The medieval flare to the outfits for everyone was cute. Their choice in costumes helped to further their preferences and identities, which was cool. The art style for this issue was both softer and more detailed, I actually quite liked it. While I wouldn’t want to trade the original for it, I wouldn’t mind seeing more of this either.
Les Estrellas Del Campo: Edicion Lumberjanes: This is the last issue in the short story collection. As you can probably guess, this story is heavily focused on little Ripley. I actually really like Ripley’s family; they all seem so sweet and fond of each other. So I’m not at all surprised to learn that Ripley’s family literally writes her letters about everything, including a detailed update for every episode of her favorite show.
Except this one. Pepita fell asleep during the episode, so she has nothing to share with Ripley. This upsets her quite a lot, as she was anxious to see what happened. Thankfully the Lumberjanes are there for her and are more than willing to act out the missed episode (though nobody is willing to point out that they don’t actually know what happened either).
This was a cute story, but it also let us dive a bit deeper into Ripley’s heritage, which was a lot of fun. I would love to see more about her and her family, but I’ll take what I can get! The artwork was a bit rougher and more textured, but the style change sort of works in a way; I interpreted it as us seeing the world through Ripley’s eyes, which is pretty cute.
Lumberjanes: Bonus Tracks