Noelle Stevenson, et al. Lumberjanes. Los Angeles: Boom! Studios, 2014-present.
Rating: 4.75 out of 5 punk rock mermaids
Lately, I’ve been hooked on the Lumberjanes comics by Noelle Stevenson (of Nimona fame) et al. Boom! Studios calls it “Buffy the Vampire Slayer meets Gravity Falls,” a series focused on five adventure-attracting teens attending a summer camp “for hardcore lady-types” in the middle of a supernatural-entity-filled forest.
There’s April – the one with super strength who cares most about earning all the badges, and is obsessed with mermaids;
Jo – the science genius who can invent anything on a dime, and April’s best friend since childhood;
Mal – the punk one who was almost part of a band back home, is afraid of water but will deal with it for her friends, and is totes in love with Molly;
Molly – the raccoon-hat-wearing archery master who is totes in love with Mal;
Ripley – the adorably out of control one who leaps first and asks questions later, and loves unicorns and glitter;
and Jen – their practical, put-upon cabin counselor who just wants to lead a normal, well-behaved bunch of ladies who follow the rules and don’t constantly get into dangerous supernatural hijinks.
The camp is led by Rosie the riveter, who knows perfectly well what goes on in these woods and trusts the campers to handle it without her interference (most of the time). There’s also the mysterious Bear Woman who occasionally jumps in to save the girls or lead them through a dinosaur-filled parallel dimension or grumble about how Rosie runs the camp.
My favorite things:
- Last year, BookRiot had a post on creative swears in speculative fiction, a stylistic technique that can add to a story’s world-building. Well, Lumberjanes definitely has one of the best examples of creative exclamations that fit with the story’s themes. At this camp that builds strong female leaders, the characters use the names of strong, influential women in their exclamations. Like:
- The badges – at this camp, you earn badges like Jail Break, Pungeon Master (for the well-timed and witty use of word-play), Knot On Your Life, and Space Jamborie. It’s another addition to the word-building, fitting into the humor of the Lumberjanes experience.
- Mal and Molly – they are the stinking cutest couple ever.
- The selkies – Issues 21-24 contain a story arc about our five protagonists’ run-in with a group of selkies who steal a counselor’s ship and accuse her of stealing a sealskin. I especially liked the character Monday, who has the same punk look as Mal, rather than the traditional look of a selkie.
- The mermaids – again with the punk theme, this is a modern, rock-music-loving pod of lake merpeople who know how to throw an awesome party.
To nitpick a little, there are a few moments that don’t make sense, like when a Greek goddess somehow doesn’t know anything about the astrology associated with her, or (slight spoiler alert) when the story seems to go surprisingly dark as a side character gets blood-splatteringly smashed into a wall by a mythical monster, only to show up a little later with nothing more than a broken arm. If you’re going to go dark, you might as well be consistent about it; otherwise, stick with the lighthearted tone of the rest of the story.
Anyhoo, if you’re a fan of Gravity Falls like me, and are looking for an awesome, funny, butt-kicking-female-centered comic series, I highly recommend Lumberjanes.