‘Lumberjanes’ Is The Girl Power Graphic Novel Series Every Young Woman Needs In Her Collection

We admit we’re late to the game in discovering the ‘Lumberjanes’ comic book and graphic novel series, but count us among the series’ die-hard fans henceforth! The series was created by Shannon Watters, Grace Ellis and Noelle Stevenson; written by Noelle Stenvenson and Grace Ellis; and illustrated by Brooke Allen.

The series centers around Jo, April, Mal, Molly, and Ripley who are five rad, butt-kicking best pals determined to have an awesome summer together. If you’re looking for a fiction series for young girls (and some *ahem* older ones) that is essentially the antithesis of the Disney Princess series, look no further. Although the Disney Princess brand is paying attention to the shift in culture and jumping on the rise in female empowerment narratives, it is independent, grassroots creative projects like ‘Lumberjanes’ that are responsible for this exciting direction.

Readers are immersed in adventure, mystery and lead female characters known for what they are capable of doing and being, rather than just their physical appearance or desire to pursue a heterosexual relationship in order to find a very narrow notion of happiness.

“At Miss Qiunzella Thiskwin Penniquiqul Thistle Crumpet’s Camp for Hardcore Lady Types, things are not what they seem. Three-eyed foxes. Secret caves. Anagrams,” says the description on the Boom! Studios website where you can buy and download copies of the series.

A quick skim through character descriptions also gives us confirmation of the type of empowering, fictional animated role models readers become acquainted with:

-April is very creative and likes crafts, animals, mermaids, and bright colors. She keeps a journal of all the cryptids and creatures they’ve encountered in the woods, and wields glitter glue and googly eyes like nobody else!
-Jo is an inventor and very into science. She likes experiments, nature, and math.
-Mal is a super cool musician! She plays the guitar and even has a rad haircut. She’s very scared of water and avoids it at all costs.
-Molly is mature and very brave. She’s great with a bow and arrow and hardly ever without her trusty racoon buddy, Bubbles.
-Ripley is the youngest and smallest Roanoke, and she’s also probably the wildest! She wears her heart on her sleeve and she’s kind of like a tiny tornado with blue hair. She loves dinosaurs and the girls’ counselor, Jen.

The comic books debuted in 2014, and have since branched out into the graphic novel medium, with ‘Unicorn Power’ as the first title. In an interview with AM New York, the authors said the original idea was a Girl Scout camp with monsters. The core attraction of this series is its focus on friendship and sisterhood.

“The thing that everyone really wanted to focus on was empowering female friendships. No one is stabbing each other in the back,” said Brooklyn Allen.

Included in the overall message of girl power is the theme of diversity and inclusivity. Jo, the team’s leader, is a transgender girl. What makes ‘Lumberjanes’ unique within the comic book/graphic novel world is its ability to excite readers, while also containing content that can be seen as educational. As the Comic Book Legal Defense (a non-profit organization dedicated to protecting the First Amendment rights of the comics medium) website outlines, with math, science, poetry and humor among the subjects weaved throughout the stories, it is a powerful resource in a society that still largely markets narrow ideals of womanhood to young girls:

Lumberjanes is about friendship, survival, and the strengths we each hold within us. It’s about working together and it’s all about being able to embrace the quirkiness within. In addition to wonderfully nuanced characters and their summer camp challenges, the series tackles:

  • The power of friendship and how no matter how different you may feel, with friends you will always belong;
  • The power of learning, be it math and Fibonacci sequences, astronomy or word play — you never know when it can save your life;
  • The challenges of sibling rivalry;
  • The importance of understanding oneself and the gifts we each offer; and
  • The power of persistence and cooperation with others to achieve your goals.”

The authors and illustrators have been taking the ‘Lumberjanes’ message on the road, appearing on panels at various Comic Con events and engaging with audiences across the country. With so much focus on comic books becoming a medium where diverse characters and story lines are edging toward the norm, ‘Lumberjanes’ is the kind of content that every young woman should have in her book collection.

Feminist author Roxane Gay has become part of the ‘Lumberjanes’ world, as she recently told TIME.com she will be writing for the series in the future.

“I’m going to be doing a story for Lumberjanes, which I’m really excited about because it’s kick-ass girls doing kick-ass things,” she said in July this year.

Canadian author Mariko Tamaki, who has written for the series, describes it as a very loving book.

“All the characters care for each other very deeply and look out for each other, which I think is a really good example to set for younger readers,” she told AM New York.

It is important for young girls to be immersed in positive stories that promote the idea of collaboration and sisterhood as well as introduce them to subject matter like science and math that have typically been avoided in content marketed to girls in the mainstream media (again, think Disney Princesses). Mariko says the characters focus on problem solving instead of internal drama, which will allow young female readers especially to know they are capable of doing awesome things in the world.

“It’s about you versus your surroundings and you versus your environment and having that be the challenge. And passing by this idea that girls have to be spiteful to each other,” she said.

To learn more about ‘Lumberjanes’ buy a copy for a badass girl in your life and download a free preview, visit the Boom! Studios website.



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