“LUMBERJANES” #3 (Comic Review)
One of the most profitable and entertaining endeavors currently on television are cartoons. Shows like ADVENTURE TIME and REGULAR SHOW are pushing the envelope of animation and storytelling, making themselves a mainstay for both children and adults. By understanding that both demographics essentially want the same thing (consistent, smart writing grounded in the human experience), animation has been blowing up. It’s thanks to these trendsetters that we’re seeing a growing interest in the same type of distinctive narrative in comic books, leading to a boundless, new array of works from companies such as IDW and BOOM! Studios. Enter LUMBERJANES, a group of rough-and-tough girls who are looking to take comics by storm. Blending grimy monsters with hilarious hi-jinks, BOOM!’s latest tile is already making headway in this new frontier.
Now three issues in, LUMBERJANES has been following the story of five protagonists—Jo, Molly, April, Mal and Ripley—as they spend their summer at the all-girls camp, Lumberjanes. Amidst learning practical survival skills such as canoeing and hiking safety, something more sinister lurks among the trees, taking the form of various animals with three eyes. While Issues One and Two saw the Janes merely scratching the surface of the phantasm mystery, Issue Three drops the girls deep into Scooby-Doo territory. After getting caught in a wild river, they find themselves lost in the forest. With no hope of rescue, they’re surprised to find a secret cave mechanically spring itself from the ground. Of course, curiosity gets the better of them and they immediately dive head first into trap-filled underground tunnel system. Relying on their wits and scout knowledge, the ladies fight monsters and solve riddles as they navigate to an exit, hoping to find an answer to the strange creatures wandering the woods above.
LUMBERJANES is very reflective of what’s going on in animation right now, with its unique characters and silly jokes. Interestingly enough, this current trend of noodly armed cartoons can be traced to independent comic books, such as Peter Bagge or even further back with the Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers or early Mad Magazine. Of course, that itself is influenced by even older Disney and Silly Symphonies cartoons, which goes to show that what’s happening with current comics is a Mobius strip of influences. That is perhaps why LUMBERJANES is such a prime example of the times; it takes the artistic influence and perchant for playing with creative medium of underground comic books, while keeping it fun and fresh like a Saturday morning cartoon.
The writers of this adventurous tale are the power team of Grace Ellis and Noel Stevenson. While both are brand new to the printed comic medium, Ellis is fairly well known on the internet for her Tumblr, Gingerhaze, which features mini-comics and quirky artwork. Together, they’ve made a solid entrance into the world of the graphic word, crafting a smooth story with larger-than-life creatures and Scooby-Doo-esque mysteries. Eliis and Stevenson have managed to balance the strong personalities of each character, giving each star its time in the sky, while the art by Brooke Allen plays perfectly with the buoyant atmosphere and over-the-top nature of the writing. It’s a perfect blend of spooky, dark fantasy horror, cartoon madness, and fun, relatable characters for fans of all ages.