The Comic Book I Needed When I Was a Teenager
By Whitney Kippes
[dropcap background="no" color="#333333"]I[/dropcap]’m a long time lover of comics. I spent the better part of the 1990s and early 2000s with my nose buried within an ever growing collection of Archie, Betty & Vernoica and Jughead comics. I loved the short stories, full of high schoolers.
Yet, with all the education and experience I’ve gained, I can’t help but think of what horrible reading material those comics were for a teenage girl. Now, Archie has made some serious strides recently (Archie featuring a gay character, finally naming Jughead’s asexuality, and the Betty & Veronica reboot focuses on gentrification rather than fighting over boys), but back in the day these were hardly the stuff of progressive thought. The primary features, with Reggie and Archie’s constantly forgiven infidelity, Betty and Veronica’s frequent fighting over, girls pressuring Jughead with unwanted affection, regressive ideas on wealth and power - it was nothing I’d want to share with a teenager.
Enter what I wish I had been reading as a teen: Lumberjanes.[divider type="short" spacing="10"]
[dropcap background="no" color="#333333"]I[/dropcap] read issue one of Lumberjanes while solidly ignoring my best friend who I had driven four hours to see. To be fair, she put Issue 1: Beware the Kitten Holy in my hands, so I supposed she had to know what she was getting herself into. I sat reading, and grinning and laughing, and read the whole thing cover to cover.
Created by Shannon Watters, Grace Ellis, and Noelle Stevenson and published via the Boom Box! Imprint of Boom! Studios, Lumberjanes follows the story of a group of teenagers living out full summer camp goals at Miss Quinzella Thiskwin Penniquiqul Thistle Crumpet’s Camp for Hardcore Lady Types. Known as Lumberjane Scouts, the five inhabitants of Roanoke cabin – Jo, April, Molly, Mal and Ripley – show exactly what it means to be a mystery solving, monster fighting team.
Why in the world would I have tolerated Veronica’s spoiled princess behavior when I could be watching Jo kick some monster butt?
Every single character is delightful – quirky in their own way, and with attitudes only appropriate to a rambunctious crew of teens. Adventuring off in the night, breaking rules, and having wild hijinks, the Lumberjane Scouts are everything I would have been inspired to be as a teen.
Of course, my teen adventures probably wouldn’t have included three-eyed foxes, creepy spirits, or defeating statues in feats of strength.[divider type="short" spacing="10"]
[dropcap background="no" color="#333333"]H[/dropcap]appily, Lumberjanes offers a level of complexity and intrigue that I have absolutely no issue recommending Lumberjanes for readers of any age. It’s a book perfect for people looking for something going well beyond a “strong female character” box – this is about an amazing group of women who created an amazing world with awesome characters.
I’ll be happily stocking my shelves with Lumberjanes (and maybe some of those modern Archie Digests for nostalgic value) for when my nieces and nephews come to visit. Or maybe more for myself, if I’m being honest.