Lumberjanes is the story of five young women at a strange and magical summer camp. April is ambitious, tiny, and ridiculously strong. Riley is the youngest, and sometimes a bit over-enthusiastic. Jo is a level-headed science genius and transgender. Mal is a queer guitar player from a happy home. Molly is queer, from an unhappy home, and has a pet raccoon named Bubbles who she wears as a hat. Together they are the Roanoke bunk at Miss Qiunzella Thiskwin Penniquiqul Thistle Crumpet’s Camp for Hardcore Lady Types. Rounding out the cast are their camp counselor, Jen, who tries to keep them out of danger, and the camp director, Rosie, who wants her campers to be brave and safe.
In previous issues, we’ve seen the campers discover and learn to deal with the magic in and around the camp. This includes magical kittens, a Greek goddess, yetis, selkis, and the disgruntled former camp director bear-woman.
Volume 10 Parents’ Day
Parents’ Day finds the campers trying to figure out how to hide magic and some of their secrets from their parents. Jo, April, and Ripley are ecstatic about seeing their families. Mal is a little worried because she led her mom to believe it was a music camp. Molly’s parents can’t make it because camp is too far from home. They’re all worried if their parents find out about their magical adventures they will decide it’s too dangerous and will take the kids home. Fortunately, Rosie has planned a totally normal scavenger hunt that will keep the parents too busy to notice. Obviously, it goes completely wrong. Ripley’s grandmother disappears and someone starts playing dangerous pranks on campers, such as getting woodland creatures to attack them (hilarious!). In the end, the parents find out the camp is magical but they don’t steal the girls away home.
It’s been a while since I picked up an issue of Lumberjanes and I really missed it. Parents’ Day is my favorite kind of Lumberjanes adventure. There were light-hearted mysteries and lots of friendship to the max. I loved seeing the campers interacting with their families because it helped me understand their characters better.
Volume 11 Time after Crime
At the end of Parents Day, Jo sets up sensors to track the temporal anomalies at camp. Time moves more slowly at camp. Jo wants to know why and how, but Molly wants to make it move even more slowly. While it’s never explicitly said, it’s implied that Molly’s family doesn’t approve of her sexuality. Camp is the first place Molly’s even felt accepted and been truly happy. She’s scared to go home and wants more time to explore her new relationship with Mal.
Molly finds a disembodied voice that tells her how to modify Jo’s sensors to make time move more slowly. But it totally breaks time. People freeze, bubbles make people age or de-age rapidly, and a giant sentient rock wanders through camp accidentally destroying things. In the end, Molly confesses and the campers work with some old friends to put things right.
This wasn’t one of my favorite Lumberjanes. Disembodied voices and mute, sentient rock piles don’t have a lot of personality. Plus, I was annoyed that Molly tried to slow down time. This wasn’t the first time she’s gotten the camp in trouble by trying to lengthen her stay there. It felt like her character regressed. But I did enjoy how the Lumberjanes rigged the camp to protect it from the rock person.
Volume 12 Jackalope Springs Eternal
Rosie and Jen notice the campers seem hesitant to go on new adventures since Time after Crime. Jen decides to distract them by suggesting a jackalope hunt. She claims she saw one once and figures if the forest supports sentient rocks, yetis, and other mysteries, it’s probably the perfect place for a jackalope. The campers laugh and tell her jackalopes aren’t real, but they join her just in case.
They find a woman named Maria Elena Marie MacGillicuddy, who goes by Emmy, and her cyclops buffalo, Rocky. Emmy tells them she and her family were crossing the prairie in a covered wagon when she was picked up by a tornado and dropped in the forest. She’s spent years looking for her family and collecting a fantastic herd of monsters. They ask Emmy if she’s ever seen a jackalope, but she says no.
The next day, Roanoke cabin is awoken by one of Emmy’s monsters. Emmy went looking for a jackalope and was picked up by a tornado. The campers and Emmy’s herd rush to help her. They managed to rescue Emmy and her father, help Emmy become friends with the tornado, and found a jackalope for Jen.
I really enjoyed this volume. My favorite issues are the ones with the campers befriending monsters. I liked the time aspect of this story better than the last. Emmy, her herd, and the tornado were great characters. Having the campers become wary after the events of Time after Crime felt like real character development. And I loved how Jen tricked the campers into completing a badge and snap out of their funk. The early adventures were hard on Jen so it’s nice to see her becoming more flexible and resilient.