Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis, Brooke Allen, 2015
Premise: Collects Lumberjanes #1-4. Alice, Molly, Jo, Mal and Ripley are spending their summer at Miss Quinzella Thiskwin Penniquiqul Thistle Crumpet's Camp for Hardcore Lady Types. They should be learning scouting skills, canoeing, hiking and learning about nature. Instead they’re trying to get to the bottom of some seriously mysterious goings-on.
I read the first issue of Lumberjanes a while back, and knew that all the hype is true: this is a really special book. I bought the collection of the first four issues a few months back, and just finally got time to read it. And good timing, too! Lumberjanes just won two Eisners, for Best New Series and Best Publication for Teens (ages 13-17).
This book deserves its awards and its laurels. It’s loads of fun, funny and clever and sweet all at once. It stars great characters in an insane, cartoonish world, where exploring a cavern full of deadly booby traps is not the weirdest thing the girls do that day.
I ended up reading the book twice in quick succession. The pace of the story is extremely quick and light, and there isn’t a lot of dialogue on many pages. There is so much going on in the art, though the style is deceptively simple.
I love the way the characters are developed. There isn’t the smart one and the girly one and the tomboy, etc. They each have particular quirks, but they’re all scouts. They’re all at summer camp, and willing to fight magic foxes (see issue one) so they’re already on that level together. Alice, for example, is maybe the most feminine in look, but it’s more notable that she’s the most brash and outspoken. Each of the girls is a unique character, and it comes through not only in the dialogue but in the way they stand and move. I really want this series to run for a long time, because I can feel the edges of backstory for several girls that I am very intrigued by.
They are friends, and that’s the most important thing. The teamwork is great, the adventure satisfying. There’s a hint of something stronger possible between two of the girls by the end of issue two, and it’s adorable.
Occasionally the action gets a little more cartoony that I personally like, but it works with the style and tone as established.
I just love the whole premise here: five friends at camp, exploring a crazy mystery, because who else is going to do it… grownups?
5 Stars - An Awesome Book (to the max!)
PS: It risks being cutesy, but the habit of the girls substituting names of female icons into oaths is pretty great. (i.e. on page two: “What in the Joan Jett are you doing?!”)