Presenting “Comical Amateur”: a bi-weekly (or not) column where I try to educate myself on comics by reading and reviewing ones I’ve never read. The first few will be ones I’ve read and enjoyed, but that will run out quick, believe me. First up: Lumberjanes.
Set at a female summer camp called “Miss Qiunzella Thiskwin Penniquiqul Thistle Crumpet’s Camp for Hardcore Lady Types” (now say that five times fast), Lumberjanes revolves around five young girls: April, Jo, Molly, Mal, and Ripley who quickly come to realize that the woods surrounding their camp house the weird and supernatural. This ranges from a Bear Lady to hipster Yetis to mythical Greek Gods.
The series does one thing off the bat that really grounds the narrative, in what could otherwise be a played-out trope. It anchors the story with the five leads. It is all about this group of friends exploring the supernatural, often behind the back of their counselor Jen- a strictly rule-oriented individual that has a constant love-hate relationship with the girls.
Of course, there’s the weird happenings in the forest, but it’s secondary to its largest and greatest driving theme: Friendship to the Max. The emerging camaraderie and closeness between the five of them is its greatest priority and anything else is gravy.
The reason you return to this series is because you love April and her absurd upper-body strength; because you love Jo and her journey as a trans woman- a reveal that is done that so subtly and elegantly that you could miss it if you aren’t paying attention; because you love Ripley’s antics and the energy she brings to every panel she’s in; because Mal and Molly’s blossoming quasi-relationship is adorable and beautiful and can’t be allowed to become victims to the Bury Your Gays trope.
The artwork is also stunning. Colorful and ever so angular, each page has wonderful personality to it that another comic might not. The characters come alive in it while still having a certain frantic erraticity that really drives the silly adventures they embark on.
If you’re looking for some more female-centric comics and less of the superhero variety, Lumberjanes is certainly an excellent to start.