After weeks of waiting and shooting mutinous looks at my mailman, the first issue of Lumberjanes is finally in my hands. The book—penned by Grace Ellis and Noelle Stevenson and illustrated by Brooke Allen—concerns the adventures of five girls at a summer camp where remarkable things are afoot. The most remarkable of which is the girls themselves, who are brave and smart and funny and diverse in the way we constantly beg of from media and so rarely get.
At this summer camp—which we gather from the sign has recently come into new, badass management—the girls of Roanoke Cabin manage to follow the Lumberjanes code while simultaneously breaking all the Lumberjanes rules.
The girls—Mal, Molly, Ripley, Jo, and April—vary in race, gender expression, and energy level (Ripley, in particular, is a handful in the best possible sense)—but they are united in their love for adventure, mystery, and each other. Astute readers will notice that there is decided spark between Molly and Mal (the amazing alt-haircut and the raccoon cap, respectively). They are rarely to be seen without their arms around each other and can be spotted sneaking off to the same bunk.
It’s queer in a way that doesn’t draw attention to itself because it doesn’t need to; because all the campers are free to be themselves. If anything, my only disappointment in issue one was that there wasn’t enough time for me to find out every single thing about all five of them. (In particular, why doesn’t Molly want anyone to call her parents? ARE THEY BEING MEAN TO YOU, MOLLY, BECAUSE I WILL HURT THEM.)
But let’s not forget the camp staff: Counselor Jen, the perfect foil for the girls’ shenanigans, and Camp Director Rosie, who is sort of like if Albus Dumbledore was on a roller derby team. They provide the girls with the freedom to follow the camp’s mysteries as well as an incentive to come home at the end of the night.
In its technicolor exuberance, Lumberjanes is Adventure Time, in its “best friends versus the forces of evil” dynamic, it’s Buffy, but most of all, it’s the smell of woodsmoke and the sound of crickets and that special joy exclusive to camp. Camp, really, is the perfect place to set a story about female friendship and bravery and love. If you were lucky enough to experience it yourself, you remember it as a place where it was cool if you wanted to be the fastest and strongest girl. (It was also the site of one of my formative gay experiences: my best camp friend said it was a tradition for girls to share a bed on the last night. It was not a tradition.)
With jokes to appeal to any demographic, I highly suggest that you buy two issues of Lumberjanes: one for you, and one for a little girl who needs it (that can also be you).
Issue one of Lumberjanes is available via Comixology or at your local comic shop and issue two comes out May 16. I can’t wait to follow this story for infinity issues.