Lumberjanes was one of those comics that no one would have faulted for not doing well. An all-female-led, all-ages comic about ladies being friends and having woodsy adventures? A lot of cues from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The X-Files, Gravity Falls, and Twin Peaks? It’s the niche-est of niche books. Luckily, it’s also thoroughly delightful. The campers of Miss Qiunzella Thiskwin Penniquiqul Thistle Crumpet’s Camp for Hardcore Lady-Types are constantly trying to be better scouts and better hardcore lady-types. While they go on their adventures and their quests for new badges, they keep stumbling upon new mysteries in the woods: anagrams in a secret cavern guarded by arm-wrestling statues; a golden bow and arrow in a lighthouse; demonic boy scouts. This camp has it all.
This volume is only the first half of the overarching mystery of the first eight issues, but it still feels like a complete story, comic-wise. It introduces the characters and the world, the mystery they want to solve, and it ends on a cliffhanger. Do I wish all 8 issues were in here, so people could have a better chance of catching up? Obviously. But people who pick this volume up will probably have a strong feeling that they’ll need to track down issues 5-12, by any means necessary.
In terms of package design, there’s a lot of things I really like about Lumberjanes volume 1 (Beware The Kitten Holy, which I’m sure is an anagram of something, but I am horrible at anagrams). The book is set up like a Lumberjane Scout handbook, with a space at the beginning to mark who this Lumberjane manual belongs to, it’s got the Lumberjanes pledge, and each issue, named after one of their many, oddly specific merit badges, has the beginnings of the chapter in the manual about the badge and how to get it. Team Lumberjanes didn’t just slap four issues together, throw in the variants in the back, and call it a day; they really went the extra mile on this one. And for $15, it’s a pretty sweet deal.
As part of what I would generally call the new wave of feminist comics (the issue came out at roughly the same time as Ms. Marvel, the second #1 of Captain Marvel, when the new Batgirl was announced, etc), Lumberjanes would have been notable, regardless. I mean, a female-led book is a treasure nowadays--a female-led book for all-ages is a true gift. And while it wears a lot of its influences on its sleeve, it makes itself its own title, and it stands out. In a wall full of comics that still, by and large, tend towards the dark and gritty, pick up Lumberjanes, and feel the smiles coming on.
Lumberjanes Vol. 1 Writers: Noelle Stevenson & Grace Ellis Artist: Brooke Allen Colors: Maarta Laiho Letters: Aubrey Aiese Badge Designs: Kate Leth Publisher: BOOM!/Boom Box Price: $14.99 Release Date: 4/1/15 Format: Trade Paperback; Print