I’m really not one for graphic novels; the form generally misses me. But I kept seeing Lumberjanes appear on my feed, and the idea behind it always piqued my interest. Five girls camping at a residential girl
scout camp with a hassled cabin leader and a intriguingly supportive camp director sounded intriguingly familiar. Luckily, the library had a copy, and off I was to the adventures at Miss Qiunzella Thiskwin Penniquiqul Thistle Crumpet’s Camp for Hardcore Lady Types.
It was fun.
My first surprise was the take on Girl Scouts, beginning with a ‘Message from the High Council’ and the ‘Lumberjanes Pledge.’ I had to laugh because although I couldn’t tell you the Girl Scout pledge, I know there’s something about ‘God and country’ there, and this edition has a mock cross-out. I was always uncomfortable with that bit too, ladies. Chapter One starts with the ‘Up All Night’ badge, another fun take on the Girl Scout badge collection. It’s the kind of subtle satire that elevates it a bit above a grade school level. Billed as ‘young teen/teen,’ I wouldn’t have any problem letting a younger person read it, just note they might miss some of the subtext.
and possibly, fun but unfortunately obscure references.
At any rate, the Hardcore Lady Types have a lot to deal with: late night wanderings lead to mysterious encounters, a day on the river leads to a monster encounter, caving becomes puzzle-solving, and a simple hike leads to a strange tower and a nearby camp for boys. The last section is cover art from different editions, done by different artists. Each section/edition resolves one problem, while opening an opportunity for the next. Occasionally the messaging gets to be a little heavy, but since it’s a message I support, it wasn’t very bothersome.
The drawings are fun, blocky, elongated, lots of primary-type colors and not going for a lot of realism/depth. Occasionally they verge on the over-busy or are a little too stylized to help differentiate what is going on. Each chapter seems to have a general color scheme, blues, browns or greens. The story is intriguing, but the overarching story doesn’t come anywhere near to resolved. In fact, I’m not entirely sure about the world-building–are these monsters a surprise to the girls/staff? I don’t think it’s supposed to be imaginary.
Overall, it was super-cute. The girls are fast friends, each one perhaps appealing to a different demographic. When they get into deep trouble, they all team up–none of this ostracizing ‘Puffy runs away and is welcomed back to the group’ plot line. I confess I had my own fondness for Riley, the one who would leap into any situation in defense of her friends, even at her own risk. Honestly, it reminded me of the days watching Scooby-Doo and Wonder Twins. Craaaack! Pow! Onward!
Disclosure: I worked at a lumberjanes camp for two years, although I and my friends were on the staff side of things.
Love always to Spryte, Flipper, Pomme