Friday, May 05, 2017

Lumberjanes, Vol. 1: Beware the Kitten Holy by Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis, Brooke Allen, and Maarta Laiho

As an adult and the owner of a penis, I am not the person who should be telling you about Lumberjanes. So I'm going to assume that you all knew about it already, and were just waiting for me to finally come around, since you knew it was wonderful already. (Hey, guys! You could've told me!)

Lumberjanes is a comics series that feels like it wants to be an animated TV series -- you know, one of the good modern ones, from that channel you like, officially for kids but with a huge fanbase of adults who are generally not embarrassing in public, either. It's got the diverse cast of friendly energetic kids -- Jo, April, Molly, Mal and Ripley -- and their quirky-but-interesting milieu, here the Miss Qiunzella Thiskwin Penniquiqul Thistle Crumpet's Camp for Hardcore Lady Types.

To underline the point, these "kids" are all girls. There have been plenty of all-male groups of kid adventurers without anyone complaining, and an equally large number that's mostly boys with with a token girl. Lumberjanes can't reverse hundreds of years of sexism all by itself, obviously. But it stands athwart that history yelling..well, it's too good-natured to yell, actually, and it's not telling anyone to stop. Instead, Lumberjanes will go its own way, and make that way look so enticing that we all just have to follow.

Those five girls are all not-Girl Scouts and are at not-Girl Scout camp for however long this summer can last. (Ask Phineas and Ferb how long one summer can be.) They're bunkmates and best friends when the series opens; we don't get the usual camp-story move-in and getting-to-know-you stuff. No, Lumberjanes is full-bore for friendship and female empowerment, so it skips over that phase entirely to get to the more important elements of getting away from their counselor, having adventures with strange creatures in the woods, and starting to peel away layers from what looks to be a very big and weird mystery.

The fact that I can see the keys being played doesn't change the fact that I do enjoy the tune: from these first four issues, Lumberjanes is fun and positive and lovable and entirely a Good Thing. There have been a bunch more issues since this, and I gather the people that loved the beginning still love it, so my assumption is that it's still doing the same thing, and still doing it just as well.

I'm left, then, to provide the consumer information. Lumberjanes, Vol. 1: Beware the Kitten Holy does collect the first four issues of the ongoing series (37 issues plus some specials as of this writing), and provides four mildly standalone stories that are clearly part of a larger overall arc of discovery. It was written by Noelle (Nimona) Stevenson and Grace Ellis, and the art for all of these stories is by Brooke Allen. (I gather other artists take over later.) Maarta Laiho provided the colors. The book also includes a whole lot of regular and alternative covers at the end; these comics have been reprinted a truly heroic number of times for different organizations with different pictures on the front.

If there is someone you want to grow up into a strong independent woman in your house, or of your acquaintance, this would be an excellent gift to that person. You may even find you love it yourself.

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