Thursday, November 22, 2018

Book-A-Day 2018 #326: Lumberjanes, Vol. 5: Band Together by Stevenson, Watters, Leyh, Allen, Nowak & Laiho

There's a point where, as a reviewer and critic, you either need to engage fully with your material or just walk away from it. Holding it at arm's length doesn't do anyone any good.

And I'm very aware that all of my posts about the great female-centric comic Lumberjanes -- see my posts on volumes one and two and three and four -- are about how I really can't engage that deeply with a comic that is so centrally about being a girl and having friendships with other girls in a very girl-positive environment.

So I think this is the last time I'm going to read a Lumberjanes thing: they are good, and entirely a positive thing to have in the world, but I really don't have a way into this material, and five books of searching is long enough.

Also, the stories collected in Lumberjanes, Vol. 5: Band Together see a big shift in the creative team -- Noelle Stevenson leaves as co-writer, to be replaced by Kat Leyh, and Brooke Allen hands over illustration duties to Carolyn Nowak. So this a a transitional moment anyway, which makes it better than most moments to transition myself quietly in the other direction.

Band Together starts with a single-issue flashback to the first day of camp, showing all five of our intrepid campers arriving, in the company of their various families, and pretty much immediately becoming best friends. It is fun and nice and sweet and very fluffy.

The rest of the book collects the three-issue story that introduced Leyh and Nowak as creators, in which our five intrepid best friends discover that there's an entire civilization of mermaids in their local lake. (Lumberjanes has a lot of the qualities of a good animated TV series, primary among which is that the world is big and full of wonders, including ones that really should have been honkingly obvious before the point they appear.) Since Lumberjanes is about all-friendship-all-the-time (for female-identified persons), this story must of course be about our heroines mending a broken friendship among the hard-rocking merwomen.

That longer story is less fluffy, but it's still very Lumberjanean (Lumberjaneite? Lumberjaneicious? Lumberjane-aroonie?) in its core positivity and sunny disposition. Even when one character becomes obsessed, she can be talked down (and mildly shamed) by her friends by merely mentioning that she wasn't thinking enough about everyone else's feelings.

Again, I think I'm going to leave Lumberjanes behind at this point. It is a very good thing with almost no points of congruity with my life or interests, and I'm trying to teach myself that I don't need to worry about everything. Let's see if I can learn.

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