I have a confession to make: although I was excited to hear that the wonderful Noelle Stevenson (Tumblr’s gingerhaze) was going to be writing a comic about a bunch of girls at summer camp getting into paranormal mischief, for some reason I made a conscious decision not to preorder it. I think at the time I had just dropped Kelly Sue DeConnick’s Pretty Deadly (I found the concept cool but the comic itself incomprehensible) and I was anxious about picking up another lady-created book solely on the merits of its lady-createdness. Anyway, Lumberjanes finally hit shelves a few weeks ago, and when I went into my comics store early Wednesday afternoon, I discovered that there was only one copy left. On a whim, I grabbed it. No harm in giving the first issue a try, right?
Well, let me tell you what: it was awesome. I didn’t realize I was missing a comic that encapsulated the concept “Girl Scouts meets Gravity Falls” from my life until I had that very book in my hands.
The first issue opens on the girls of Roanoke Cabin doing battle with some weird spirit foxes in the woods. The real battle of the issue, though, is sneaking in past their long-suffering counselor, who has absolutely no patience for stories of spooky business. She reports them to the head of the camp, but the bosslady’s interest is piqued when she hears what the girls claim kept them out of bed. What does she know about the paranormal goings-on at Miss Quinzella Thiskwin Penniquiqul Thistle Crumpet’s Camp for Hardcore Lady Types? How did these girls get into the business of ghost-fighting? Can I also have some hot chocolate? Only time will tell!
People who have excellent taste in webcomics will already know that Stevenson is a great storyteller via her sci-fi/fantasy epic Nimona. Lumberjanes just goes to show that her talent extends beyond that genre into more realistic realms—for a certain value of “realism”, at least. Each issue of eight-issue run will deal with the girls earning a new Lumberjane—the in-world equivalent of a Girl Scout—badge. (The badges, designed by all-around awesome artist Kate Leth, grace a sash on the back cover of each book.) However, the real focus is on the weird happenings that are, well, happening in the woods around their camp.
Interestingly enough and despite her tremendous artistic talent, Stevenson is, along with cowriter Grace Ellis, writing but not drawing Lumberjanes. Brooke Allen has taken up pencils instead, and she does a wonderful job. Her pages do homage to the aesthetic of the clearly gingerhaze-designed universe without being a copy of Noelle’s style, and have a fun and whimsical feel that perfectly matches the tone of the story.
Lumberjanes is a lighthearted and fun comic and definitely worth the read, as long as you can handle rose-tinted reminisces to your own summer sleepaway camp days for days after reading it. (Or maybe that’s just me. I dunno.) Needless to say, this series is on my pull list now, and it should be on yours too. Otherwise, your store may sell out of it before you get there.