Vaughan & Chiang's "Paper Girls" Builds a Familiar Yet Disconcerting World
There’s been a lot of controversy going around with women and comics, driven in large part by a piece former DC Editor Janelle Asselin wrote about the new Teen Titans cover on CBR. It’s sparked a lot of good discussion and as usual, a ton of nightmarish behavior. I thought a lot about writing about it, but I gotta be honest, it’s just not in me right now. Maybe it’s not true for everyone, but for me, to take on these big pieces that you know are likely to be controversial takes not only a lot of literal time but also a ton of mental energy and I just don’t have it in me right now for either of those things. Maybe that will change in the coming weeks and I’ll have something of merit to add to the discussion, but for now, read Asselin’s piece and also this most excellent piece on Comics Alliance by Andy Khouri.
Here we’re just going to talk about the absolute awesomeness that is LUMBERJANES. The kind of comic every young girl should get the opportunity to read – and hell, young boys too. It may be designed with “hardcore lady-types” in mind, but it’s wonderful reading for anyone, in fact, perhaps it should be required reading to broaden minds and generally spread happiness and goodness to the world.
For those of you that don’t already know what this is, Lumberjanes is an 8-issue limited series from Boom! by writers Noelle Stevenson (of the brilliant Nimona) and Grace Ellis. Art by Brooke Allen, colors by Maarta Laihow, and letters by Aubrey Aiese.
Tell you more? Of course I will!
Lumberjanes is full of positive energy, laughs, and good fun, as well as the beginnings of a mystery worthy of any (possibly supernatural) summer camp.
Stevenson and Ellis’s story and script is full of verve and charm, brimming with energy and excitement that can barely be contained on the page. There’s a lot for young readers here, but Stevenson and Ellis manage what all the best “all-readers” books do, in that they have found that line between acceptable, appropriate, and exciting for young readers, and yet smart and charming enough for older readers. I wasn’t bored for a moment and neither would someone 30 years my junior be, and THAT is impressive. It’s one of those things that helps make a book last. That said, there is an absolute “now-ness” to Lumberjanes that suggests it might not age as well as one would hope. Some of the jokes are so of the now that they might not be timeless, but who cares. We live now and this is a great book for NOW.
When I first heard about Lumberjanes I was distressed to read that Stevenson wouldn’t be drawing it (the cover above is her work) but Allen’s fantastic style is a perfect fit for the tone of the book – infectious, charismatic, kinetic, and bursting at the seams with ideas. Her characters are all drastically different, something so rare in comics period, but especially when it comes to female characters, who even more frequently suffer from “same-face” and barbie doll bodies. These ladies couldn’t be more different and real and it’s wonderful.
Maarta Laihow’s colors are flat out fantastic – both bright and light when called for, but also unafraid to embrace the darkness of the woods and the darkness of what the girls encounter in said woods. It’s a deft hand that can so well skirt such a fine line. Similarly, Laihow really embraces the tonal shifts in the book based on the surrounding light and emotion of the scene – the dark, cold, evocative woods versus the warmth and brightness of the safety of their cabin. Check it out:
On top of all of this that they’re getting right (which, if you lost count, is pretty much everything) they’re also finding ways to be innovative with their storytelling above and beyond just having a funny script. Check out this hilarious “kick kick kick” fighting technique. Super effective!
It’s a great little book, and it’s poised to be a great little series. The kind I find myself already wishing we’ll get more of…”an ongoing and a tv show?” Is that a thing? Can it be a thing?
I leave you with…LITTLE RED FORMATION…”TO GRANDMOTHER’S HOUSE WE GO!”
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