Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Lumberjanes, Volume 1 Review (Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis)

A small group of friends spend their summer at Lumberjanes Scout Camp where things get surprisingly weird. The surrounding forest is full of talking Yetis, three-eyed snakes, three-eyed falcons – three-eyed everythings! All clues point towards a mysterious tower as the source of the oddities. And off they go – what will they find? 

Lumberjanes was a lot more imaginative than I expected. I thought, modern young girls going to summer camp, it’s not going to be that great, probably some hipster nonsense with the kids talking like witty adults, and then it turned into this kinda cool fantasy adventure. I wouldn’t say I loved it mostly as I’m not really the target audience, ie. younger readers, who’ll probably enjoy it more and actually find it funny. The look and overall flavour of the script reminded me of a Saturday morning cartoon on Nickelodeon or whatever channel da yoofs of today are watching. 

It’s nice to have a feminist comic with realistically depicted female body types who aren’t quipping non-stop. The characters are as you’d expect young teen girls to be: awkward, clumsy, silly, innocent-ish, and I liked that they’re not overly obsessed with their looks or boys and junk. Two of the girls also discover romantic feelings for each other and their burgeoning relationship was handled very sweetly with the girls sometimes holding hands but mostly avoiding each other’s gaze. 

The creative team obviously have a very strong attachment to the group though it does work against the comic at times. The panels are a bit too crowded as they try to give every one of the five characters an equal share of the spotlight. By focusing on all of the characters at once, it’s hard to distinguish between them. I ended up knowing them by singular traits rather than anything else: there’s the lil girl who’s goofy and adorable, the smart one, the strong one, and the remaining two are falling in love with each other. But at least they do have character traits. 

While the stories just about hold the attention, they sometimes feel a bit derivative. In particular, one issue is a clear homage to Indiana Jones with the famous door closing/hat grabbing scene played out again, and the faith walk scene in The Last Crusade as the girls have to find out the right squares to step across a chasm without falling in. Some stories underline the feminist angle a little too obviously like the opening scene where the girl are fighting wolves and beating them, telling us this ain’t no Red Riding Hood kinda tale. 

Lumberjanes isn’t without its problems but I feel like those stem from my perspective being an adult male reader. Give this comic to a tween girl? I think they’d really enjoy it. It’s a very kid-friendly all-ages comic full of action and adventure with a group of likeable characters. It might not be for me but in a way I’m glad that it’s not. It’s great that there’s a comic out there catering for a completely different audience, and that it has as many positive messages in it as Lumberjanes does.

Lumberjanes Volume 1

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