Thursday, April 24, 2014

Review: Lumberjanes

Lots of fun, new, queer comic books this month!

First up, is Lumberjanes issue #1 from Boom! Box comics. If you haven't heard about it, here's the tagline, "Five best friends spending the summer at Lumberjane scout camp...defeating yetis, three-eyed wolves, and giant falcons...what’s not to love?!"  I was completely sold after reading that. 

I've been excited about this comic for weeks now, for all sorts of reasons: the creators announced early on that it was going to be super queer, it looked kid-friendly (which isn't something we have much of in the world of queer comics), and it was by women/girls, about women/girls, and for women/girls/everyone.

The Cast of Lumberjanes #1
Just looking at the credits page on the inside cover is incredible. Without knowing all of their gender identities, I can at least say that everyone who worked on this has a stereotypically female name (from my white, middle-class, American perspective).  Considering all the bullshit that women who work in comics have to deal with, including the recent Teen Titans cover debacle, it's awesome to have a a likely all-female creative team.  Now that nearly half of comic book fans (according to Facebook demographic studies) are once again women, it is also about time we saw more books meant to appeal to that audience. 

You can probably tell just from the panel above that the creators, who are between "mostly queer" and "some [of whom] are queer", are bringing a queer sensibility to the book.  There's no explicit same-sex goings-on in this first issue; instead, its queerness is expressed through the traditional gender role- and expression-defying cast.  This may be best exemplified by the camp's sign, which originally read, "Miss Quinzella Thiskwin Penniquiqul Thistle Crumpet's Camp for Girls," but has since been amended to read, "Camp for Hardcore Lady Types."

That is also representative of the tone and general feeling of Lumberjanes. The story can get a little silly, but both the characters and their creators seem to be having such a good time being awesome that you just sort of go with it. It often feels like watching a really good episode of a Saturday morning cartoon--I get Recess vibes from it, and the publisher compares it to Gravity Falls.  There's magical foxes, magical bear-ladies, magical crystal thingies, and camp mysteries galore.  The art by Brooke Allen isn't terribly polished, but I think it is perfect to help create the feeling of watching a cartoon and is in keeping with the camp's rustic setting. 

If you're looking for a book for a young person (appropriate for 12 and under and everyone), Lumberjanes is a great choice. If you are feeling nostalgic for the high-energy and maximum fan cartoons of your youth or just want to read a comic completely different from everything else on the shelves, Lumberjanes would also be a great choice.

And if you want to learn more about the comic and its creative team, watch this video by Amy Dallen, who looks like she came right out of its pages. 

Oh and PS, I want to give a shout out to my friendly local comic shop, Chapel Hill Comics, for pushing Lumberjanes so hard. I was worried that they wouldn't have any issues left in stock by the time I got there, since it is a new title from a small publisher. When I walked in, the first thing I saw was a table full of copies right at the front of the store. It made me very happy to shop there.


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