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Friday, April 10, 2015

'Lumberjanes' Vol. 1 by Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis, and Brooke Allen

From the BLURB:

Five best friends spending the summer at Lumberjane scout camp... defeating yetis, three-eyed wolves, and giant falcons... what’s not to love?! Friendship to the max! Jo, April, Mal, Molly and Ripley are five best pals determined to have an awesome summer together...and they’re not gonna let any insane quest or an array of supernatural critters get in their way! Not only is it the second title launching in our new BOOM! Box imprint but LUMBERJANES is one of those punk rock, love-everything-about-it stories that appeals to fans of basically all excellent things. It’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer meets Gravity Falls and features five butt-kicking, rad teenage girls wailing on monsters and solving a mystery with the whole world at stake. And with the talent of acclaimed cartoonist Noelle Stevenson, talented newcomer Grace Ellis writing, and Brooke Allen on art, this is going to be a spectacular series that you won’t want to miss.

This is ‘Lumberjanes’ Volume One, collecting issues #1-#4 of this popular and amazing comic book series released by Boom! Studios and created by Ross Richie and Shannon Watters. The idea for ‘Lumberjanes’ came from Boom! Studios editor Shannon Watters approaching writer Grace Ellis with an idea to create a girl-centric comic series, from there Brooke A. Allen was bought in for initial character designs and Noelle Stevenson as a co-writer (the eagle-eyed amongst you will recognise Stevenson's artwork from Rainbow Rowell's 'Fangirl'). 

A single eight-issue story arc was originally planned, but the series received such critical acclaim and fan-response was so huge that it’s now an ongoing series (hallelujah!).

Jo, April, Mal, Molly and Ripley are five besties enjoying their summer at Miss Quinzella Thiskwin Penniguigul Thistle Crumpet’s Camp for Hardcore Lady Types – Miss Quinzella girls are known as ‘Lumberjanes’. But as the summer starts unfolding, the Lumberjanes of Roanoke cabin (love this reference, btw!) get the sense that something fishy is afoot – there’s a weird Bearwoman, talking foxes that warn them of “the kitten holy”, sea monsters in the lake and yetis in the woods. The Lumberjanes intend to get to the bottom of the mystery surrounding their summer camp – and all while upholding the Lumberjanes Field Manual!

This series is the best. THE. BEST! I can’t even put into words the awesomeness that is ‘Lumberjanes’ – it’s like ‘Goonies’ with an extra dose of fantasy in the adventure, there’s a Buffy’s Scooby-gang sensibility, and doses of magical realism that at times reminded me of Karen Russell’s short stories (like ‘Haunting Olivia’ – because I could totally see these Lumberjanes going crab sledding!).

Let me see if I can breakdown the awesomeness of this series, shall we? There’s Jo, the cool-headed one of the group who uses math, science and logic to help get the gang out of sticky situations (she rocks the Fibonacci sequence in one ‘Goonies’-esque escape scene that totally rocks!).

April loves taking notes, making lists and puzzle-solving. She has a flair for the dramatic, adores a good pun and while she’s physically the smallest of the group, she dominates at arm-wrestling.
Molly is a skilled archer, but sometimes worries that she doesn’t contribute enough to the group – she wears the hell out of a Davy Crockett hat, and is a great cheerleader for her friends.

Mal looks like a punk-rocker, but she’s a Discovery Channel-aholic and is the very cautious member of the group, who will do anything to save her friends if they’re in trouble.

Ripley is the most energetic of the group – she’s got a mean karate-chop and does a great ‘fastball special’. She’s like a can of fizzy drink that someone’s just shook up and is completely hilarious.

These protagonists are so darn brilliant and diverse, I adored each and every one of them. And then there are the secondary characters who also kick-butt: Rosie the camp director whose like a tattooed rockabilly mama-bear, and Jen the Roanoke cabin's scout-leader who takes her job and protection of the girls very seriously.

I also loved that two of the main characters have a budding romance that’s beginning to unfold in Volume One – Molly and Mal have some completely adorable scenes of timid attraction, and I can’t wait to see where they lead because I’m already shipping them so hard!

This comic series is funny as all get out – there’s a testosterone-fuelled male camp director who’s like a caricature of misogyny, proclaiming he’s going to “catch a fish by wrestling it away from a bear!”. And the way these girls take every challenge (be it lake-monster, wrestling statues or crazed scouting lads) in stride is both admirable and brilliant.

‘Lumberjanes’ has set a new benchmark for comic books with me – I can see myself becoming an annoying spruiker of the series to anyone and everyone who’ll take reading my reading advice! I’m so in love with this series, and totally kicking myself that I wasn’t aware of its existence sooner so I could have bought each issue as it came out. As it stands I’ve now got to wait until October, when Boom! Studios will be releasing Volume. 2 …


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