One of the biggest challenges I face when reading, reviewing and now, publishing, is to find balance in the types of queers stories I read/review/publish. It often feels to me that the vast majority of what is out there – and what is made more visible when it comes to reviewing and award-winning – are the stories that deal with violence, homophobia, or the ones where being queer is the story.
Don’t get me wrong, because those? Are super important and should be told, read and talked about.
But equally important in my opinion are the fun and light stories, the stories with folks already out, the stories where no one dies, the happy and sappy stories, especially those with queer characters just being an important part of a story that doesn’t necessarily focus on their identity. I thirst for those.
Enter Lumberjanes, the comic book series published by Boom! Studios and created by the incredibly talented triad Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis and Brooke Allen.
Friendship to the Max!
An ongoing series with thirteen issues currently out and a volume that collects the first four issues recently published in April, Lumberjanes features five young teen girls – Jo, April, Mal, Molly and Ripley – who are best friends spending the summer at girl scout camp. They get entangled with paranormal shenanigans one night and the first four issues deal primarily with the girls slowly discovering that there is something REALLY wrong at camp.
The series is adorable and an indescribable delight for many reasons: starting with the focus on the girls’ friendship and unwavering loyalty to each other, the racial diversity of the girls and the fact that they are smart, cute and fierce. Then there is also how the story presents – and often subverts – different types of “girlhood”. So for example, you have the typically girly-girl April who turns out to be the most badass, physically strong character because newsflash it is possible to be both. Or Ripley, who is the smallest of them but so ferocious as to save them all at their time of need.
In addition, as though those weren’t enough, we also get kittens and dinosaurs, hilarious dialogue and puns, feminism and amazing artwork.
And two of the girls are falling for each other. The lesbian romance in these first few issues is understated, sweet and super-ultra cute. Mal and Molly are close friends who become hyper aware of each other, adorably holding hands and continuously blushing when doing things for each other. Mal and Molly simply are and this is both refreshing and delightful, especially considering their youth and the fact that the main audience for this series is young girls. This is an important message to put across and the only real problem with Lumberjanes is that once you finish the first volume or the first issue even, you will want to read more.
Just you know, beware the kitten holy.
(Ana Grilo is a Brazilian who moved to the UK because of the weather. No, seriously. Along with her partner in crime Thea James, she co-edits The Book Smugglers and Book Smugglers Publishing. When she’s not at The Book Smugglers, or hogging their Twitter feed, she can be found blogging over at Kirkus with Thea or podcasting with Renay at Fangirl Happy Hour.)