Have you ever heard of the Bechdel movie test? It was popularized by Alison Bechdel (famous American cartoonist and graphic novelist) in her comic strip “Dykes to Watch Out For.” In order to pass the Bechdel test, a movie must have: 1) At least two named female characters; 2) Those characters have to talk to each other; 3) Their conversation has to be about something other than a man. You’d be surprised how few movies pass that test, but this applies to more than just movies. I read a lot of comics, and unfortunately most of them also fail the Bechdel test.
Which is why “Lumberjanes” #1 is such a relief. Finally I can read a good book about strong, original, funny female characters. This might even be the first comic I’ve ever read that did not have a single male character in it. Heck, even the creative team behind it is all female. “Lumberjanes” isn’t marketing itself as a “Girl’s Book” (not to say that would be a bad thing); this is just a fun story with an interesting cast of characters who all happen to be women. Finally.
The story takes place at a summer camp, and already I have a lot of questions about what this camp is, who the people running it are, and what their goal is. Our five female protagonists are also somewhat mysterious. How did they become friends? Why are they at this summer camp? How did they get so good at fighting three-eyed magic foxes? In the previews, BOOM! promised us a “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”-ish story, and on that end they’ve delivered. There are the aforementioned three eyed foxes, old ladies who transform into bears, hints at magic artifacts, and “holy kittens.” I can’t wait to explore the mythology and supernatural elements of “Lumberjanes,” of which only a small piece has been revealed.
Grace Ellis and Noelle Stevenson have put together a solid #1 issue, which can be a challenge. “Lumberjanes” is a mini-series like its other BOOM! Box counterpart, “The Midas Flesh.” If you only have eight issues you have to make each one count. Ellis and Stevenson use this one to flesh out their characters, sacrificing some of the action and exposition. It’s a smart choice; the pace of this book is right on, although at the end I did feel like the comic ended kind of short, or at least abruptly. As far as the art is concerned, Brooke Allen’s pencils are cartoony and lovably simple. The colors by Maarta Laiho are well chosen. Overall, this is a nice book to put your eyes on.
My favorite kind of comics are the fun kind, and “Lumberjanes” #1 is all kinds of fun. I can feel already (and I hope I’m not jinxing it by saying it out loud) that this is going to be a very special series. After finishing issue one, I want more, and I want more quickly. As a comic creator, that’s probably the best thing you could hope to hear from your readers. It’s not the perfect #1, but it’s pretty close.
Curtis’ Hardcore Lady-Types Score: 4.5 / 5
Written by: Grace Ellis and Noelle Stevenson.
Interior art by: Brooke Allen.
Published by: BOOM!
Available on: 4/9/14