FRIENDSHIP TO THE MAX!
At Miss Qiunzilla Thiskwin Penniquiqul Thistle Crumpet’s camp for hard-core lady-types, things are not what they seem. Three-eyed foxes. Secret caves. Anagrams. Luckily, Jo, April, Mal, Molly, and Ripley are five rad, butt-kicking best pals determined to have an awesome summer together… And they’re not gonna let a magical quest or an array of supernatural critters get in their way! The mystery keeps getting bigger, and it all begins here.
Tell Me More: Female friendship is a staple in my life, but I don’t feel I see nearly as much of it as I would like in YA fiction or comics. Enter the Lumberjanes, five best friends at a summer camp that promises not just outdoor fun, but thrilling adventures that challenge their wit and ingenuity. And by the kitten holy was it an absolute blast to read!
Volume 1 opens with the girls on a nighttime trek, and any reader would be hard-pressed not to be charmed by them and their interactions with each other. The Lumberjanes look out for and protect their fellow girl, even when they come face-to-face with foxes howling to “Beware the kitten holy.” Tiny red-headed April says it herself when Camp Director Rosie asks them how they ended up in the woods: “So Jo and I woke up all of our friends because ‘FRIENDSHIP TO THE MAX,’ obviously and we went after it…” These girls value each other tremendously, and they pride themselves on being able to rely on each other no matter what.
Yes, Lumberjanes is a feminist comic, with characters that have a variety of body types and facial features, and zero slut-shaming/fat-shaming/anykindof-shaming. April might be more stereotypically feminine than Ripley or Molly, but it’s never an issue. All five of them are stubborn and confident and happy with who they are, and their friendship only ever reinforces that. There’s also a hint of romance between two of the girls, and its slow development through the first four issues is a joy to notice.
Noelle Stevenson and Brooke Allen’s art reflects the vibrancy of each girl’s personality. The colours are always warm, and the girls, as previously mentioned, are of all different shapes, sizes and skin tones. When the colours go into cooler shades, they remain just as rich:
Lumberjanes rewards rereads, and my second time around was even better than the first, because I could spend more time noticing the smaller details and seemingly throwaway jokes. There’s a cleverness to the dialogue that is never condescending. Stevenson and Grace Ellis invite the reader to laugh with the girls, and even when there were references to people or places that I didn’t understand, it only made me want to learn about them, and why the Lumberjanes might have mentioned them.
The adventures they go on are similarly engaging, and they give the girls ample opportunities to share their knowledge and skills. I was especially delighted by one particular challenge in a cave, where the girls need to figure out how to safely cross between cliffs. Each girl brings something to the table, and are never made to feel less because of what they don’t know and can’t do.
The Final Say: I’m a newcomer to comics, and I won’t lie about feeling extremely by the thousands of stories I could choose from. Picking up Lumberjanes on the strength of some trusted friends’ recommendations is a decision I could never regret, and isn’t that the Lumberjanes way? #FriendshipToTheMax —
Noelle Stevenson is a comic artist and freelance illustrator residing in Los Angeles, California. Her first comic, Nimona, was published by HarperCollins as a young adult graphic novel in the spring of 2015. She is the co-writer of Lumberjanes, a comic series from BOOM! Box, and has done writing work for Frederator’s Bravest Warriors as well.
Grace Ellis is the co-creator/writer of Lumberjanes, and a contributor at Autostraddle.
Brooke Allen is a cartoonist/illustrator, whose work has appeared in Regular Show, Adventure Time, and Bravest Warriors.