(BOOM! Box / BOOM! Studios, 2014)
Written by Noelle Stevenson and Grace Ellis
Illustrated by Brooke Allen
Colors by Maarta Laiho
Letters by Aubry Aiese
Boom! Studios lurks in the shadows waiting to strike. They are not a company that is unused to publishing big, popular books. They have licensed properties like Garfield, Adventure Time, and Hellraiser, but also have many original books, including Curse, Dead Letters, and Polarity. It’s these kinds of books that can project Boom! into another class altogether. At the same time, they are a company that is keeping their collective ear to the rail when it comes to new properties, small books that might not otherwise get a viewing.
Boom! Box is an original imprint of the larger company, sort of a Vertigo to their DC, and with this imprint they can focus on small projects with limited print runs. These are closer to the types of indie books that many companies even smaller than Boom! are specializing in. It’s a breakout chance for many creators.
Noelle Stevenson (Adventure Time, Midas Flesh) and Grace Ellis have delivered Lumberjanes #1. It’s a summer camp book in every sense, a fantastical jog through the woods, and despite the three-eyed foxes with ever-so-sharp teeth, so much fun.
Welcome to Miss Quinzella Thiskwin Penniquiqul Thistle Crumpet’s Camp for Hardcore Lady Types. (Apologies to the writers if I got any part of that wrong.) Here we meet the five girls staying in Roanoke Cabin and their frazzled counselor Jen, who cannot control these free spirits. (And why would anyone want her to?) They are in the midst of a mystery, the thread on a sweater that none fear to pick and tug at, and that mystery involves the aforementioned camp and the woods that surround it. It’s the perfect setting for a summer flick.
Brooke Allen (Regular Show, Midas Flesh) draws in the spirit of Adventure Time and the Adventures of Gumball. This really seems like it could be a Nickelodeon cartoon. Allen has that same cartoon style that we see in those blocks on TV and in the comics inspired by the shows. The character designs were all done by Stevenson and Allen, and reflect a sort of Kim Possible feel, showing the influence that all of those cartoons had in the work. I do see other influences in there as well, especially in the Rosie character. She reminds me of Granma Ben from Jeff Smith’s Bone. This could be my own psyche at work, but Granma’s real name was Rose in that book, they were both strong women, both had connections to the odd and mysterious. If there is an homage to Bone it’s just another tag showing how deep these women’s connections to comics are. And it’s fun to look at, which is really all we’re looking for in a comic right?
We have in Lumberjanes a sample of what I think we can expect from larger publishers in the future. After all of the constant big events in the large universes, it’s great to get down to a small adventure, a summer camp and five girls who don’t want to play by the rules, and circumstances that force them out of their relatively wide comfort zones. Lumberjanes #1 is a reminder that comics can be fun, and don’t have to have an over-reaching plot and deep, dark meaning. And bear women…there’s a bear woman too.
Brad Gischia is a writer and artist living in the frozen Upper Peninsula of Michigan. He is married and has three kids and a dog, who all put up with his incessant prattling about comic books.