I’m back today with another Indie Comic Month new guide for all Patrons of CK! This time, we’re departing from Image Comics in the 90s to focus on another group of comics that have a major presence in my life and in my home: all-age comics! This guide is for a comic I originally despised but eventually grew to love so much that it’s my number one recommendation to anyone introducing comics to kids of any age, from 0 to teen. It also has a wonderfully diverse cast of characters! It’s time to don your badges and move into the cabin in my Guide to Lumberjanes!
If you think there’s not enough about Lumberjanes to warrant a full on Guide to Lumberjanes, think again! Not only are there 20 original paperback volumes, but a pair of “Bonus Tracks” volumes, three OGNs, four prose novels, a fleet of translated editions, and a pair of (very different) accompanying guidebooks!
Lumberjanes first arrived in my home back in 2015 and it was not love at first sight. I picked up the first volume after hearing buzz about how wholesome and wonderful this little series about a magical summer camp was. However, I’d describe the dialog in those initial four issues as “MORE SCREAMING.” It’s a lot of howled exclamations in response to everything, to the point that some of the pages simply aren’t all that coherent.
I read the book and set it aside in my “to donate” pile.
Then, something magical happened….
my 2YO fell in love with Lumberjanes after just one read (as evidenced by it being one of her first words). It had the perfect mix of young women characters and goofy hijinks to capture her tiny attention. I was generally against “replay culture” of letting kids consume and re-consume the same thing again and again, so I begrudgingly ordered a second volume just to introduce some variation into the mix. I was surprised to find that second volume was far more readable than the first, so I ordered the third… and the fourth… and the fifth.
By the time my daughter turned three-and-a-half, she had every word of the first 20 issues of Lumberjanes committed to memory and she held hands with an imaginary Lumberjane every time we crossed a street. She carried at least one volume of the series with her at all times to all locations. They were some of the first books where she transitioned from reciting them to actually reading along. And, when we arrived in New Zealand, our hikes at Zealandia were always accompanied by Molly or April.
Lumberjanes isn’t all summer camp and mythological monsters. Its subplots tell a moving story about being yourself. Each of the five main campers has one wonderful personality trait that can sometime get out-of-control and cause them problems.
April’s is the easiest to explain: she’s super-tough and in love with organizing things, but sometimes that means she goes over-the-top and goes a little to hard – breaking stuff or alienating her friends.
Over the course of the series April never stops being strong or obsessive, but she learns the power of moderation. All of the cast members do. Lumberjanes doesn’t have any characters who are bad, just characters who are still in the process of figuring out how to be good.
The book also foregrounds several LGBTQA+ stories, including one camper who who eventually learn is trans, a tender-hearted women-loving-women young romance, and a kid at the accompanying boys camp who just isn’t comfortable being one-of-the-boys.
The comic is never about queerness. It’s about summer camp! However, the way it makes room for its queer characters to simply exist in the story without ever casting doubt on their identities or mining their trauma for plot threads felt revolutionary in 2015 and still does in 2013.
I was heartbroken when Lumberjanes came to a close at the end of 2020. I’ve never had to parent without it! Yet, its presence in our lives can never be erased – from how my daughter finds the invisible adventure in the most casual of settings, to how she always boosts her friends best traits rather than complaining about their weakest ones, to how she’ll ask after someone’s pronouns with empathy when she hears us refer to them as “they” or “theirs” in conversation.
Lumberjanes is a modern day classic that will continue to be my #1 recommendation of a kids comic for many years to come, and now I have a Guide to Lumberjanes to accompany those recommendations! This guide will be available to all readers of CK in the coming months.
Stay tuned for more indie guide announcements – and if you want access to them as they launch, consider becoming a Patron of CK. For as little as $1 a month or $10.20 a year, Patrons currently have access to…
Exclusives for Crushing Cadets ($1/month): 31 Guides!
DC Guides (6): Batman – Index of Ongoing Titles, Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight, Green Lantern Corps, Green Lantern: Hal Jordan, Green Lantern: Kyle Rayner, Omega Men
Marvel Guides (24): Adam Warlock, Alpha Flight, Angela, Beta Ray Bill, Black Cat, Blade, Captain Britain, Dazzler, Domino, Dracula, Elsa Bloodstone, Emma Frost – White Queen, Heroes For Hire, Legion, Marvel Era: Marvel Legacy, Mister Sinister, Sabretooth, Spider-Ham, Thunderstrike, Valkyrie, Vision, Weapon X, Werewolf by Night, X-Man – Nate Grey
Indie & Licensed Comics (1): Lumberjanes (and more to come!)
Exclusives For Pledgeonauts ($1.99+/month): 61 Guides!
All of the 31 guides above, plus 30 more…
DC Guides (17): Animal Man, Aquaman, Books of Magic, Catwoman, Doctor Fate, Flash, Harley Quinn, Houses & Horrors, Infinity Inc., Justice League, Justice Society of America, Mister Miracle, Nightwing, Outsiders, Shazam – Captain Marvel, Suicide Squad, Swamp Thing
Marvel Guides (13): Darkhawk, Falcon, Gwenpool, Hellcat – Patsy Walker, Kang the Conqueror, Loki, Power Pack, Red She-Hulk, Sentry, Silk, Spider-Gwen, Spider-Man: Miles Morales, Venom
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