I’m not a huge consumer of graphic novels, but I enjoyed Noelle Stevenson’s Nimona, so I decided to check out her series Lumberjanes (a co-creation with several others). I also couldn’t pass up something in which volume 1 is titled “Beware the Kitten Holy”. I was simultaneously disappointed and relieved that in the end this turns out to be less than literal. In the opening sequence the heroines encounter some wolves; as they are getting their tails kicked, one of the wolves mutters “beware the kitten holy”. By the end of the book the meaning behind the phrase is revealed.
I have to admit that I enjoyed this, even if it is loaded with cliches. The story follows 5 pals at camp. Jo’s the smarty-pants, Ripley is the crazy immature sugar obsessed one, Molly is the good girl, April’s the group’s de-facto cheerleader, ready for anything, and Mal seems to be the one who gets hurt all the time. Then you have Jen, the worrywart strict counselor, and camp director Rosie who is surprisingly understanding about the shenanigans and probably knows a lot more about the mysterious going-on than she lets on. The girls encounter 3 eyed rabid wolves, talking statues, Indiana Jones style temple/light house loaded with traps and puzzles, yetis, and boys.
In addition to sea monsters in the river etc, the girls (but not all of them) also notice mysterious gold discs and gemstones connected to the strange creatures and events. This part of the mystery those who notice tend to keep to themselves. With a set up like this, it would be all too easy for the story to veer off into the ridiculous, which it does on occasion. In this instance, that’s a good thing that the story and characters don’t take themselves too seriously. It knows it’s cliche, and is proud of it. For example, the Lumberjane pledge contains the lines:
I solemnly swear to do my best…..
To always help and protect my friends,
And then there’s a line about God or whatever
And to make the world a better place…
Add characters who shout things like “”Oh my Bessie Coleman” and “Where the Phillis Wheatley”, and bits of the Lumberjanes manual that are never complete but always ridiculous if you actually read them, and signs that are redacted and corrected, and you get an amusing and goofy adventure story.
The art is likewise is a little scattered but entertaining. One thing that really stood out to me is the eyes of different characters. All of the 5 friends have black dots for eyes except April, who has orange eyes, whites and pupils. The wolves, river monster, and a monster eagle who steals Ripley’s candy bar all have 3 eyes, and Rosie the director has blank white lenses of glasses but nothing behind them. The yetis who appear to be squeamish in a girly way about humans have color where you would expect whites, and white pupils. I’m sure that as I keep going with the series (volume 3 came out now pretty recently) this has to mean something. Right?