By Carter Glace, Staff Writer
Is there any better holiday than Halloween? The candy! Parades! Walking! Socializing! Vibrant color schemes! The films! A month of social media posts and PSA’s warning you to not wear culturally insensitive costumes and watch in delight as countless people inexplicably do it anyway!
And now, to add to the Halloween tradition, I present Carter’s Halloween Comic Spooktacular. Last year, I suggested “Anya’s Ghost” for your fall comic reading. This year, I’m going a bit outside the box with “The LumberJanes.” I’ve mentioned the series in the past, and while technically taking place over the summer, it’s combination of mystery, monsters and supernatural happenings making the series a “Gravity Falls”-style hybrid, and a perfect fit for Halloween.
Taking place at “Miss Quinzella Thiskwin Penniquiqul Thistle Crumpet’s Camp for Hardcore Lady Types,” the series follows the five scouts of the Roanoke camp (appropriately). Jo, April, Molly, Mal and Ripley are a batch of misfits who find themselves at the center of a supernatural mystery involving ancient tombs, cursed relics, spectral animals and a possible rival camp cult of all boys.
One of the series strengths is that it hits the ground running and doesn’t stop. Much like “Gravity Falls,” the first scene establishes the kind of overarching mystery and intrigue the reader is in for. By the third page, the gang is surrounded by ethereal foxes, who leave an amulet and cryptic message. “Lumberjanes” also does a great job at creating a world in which all of these oddities and creatures can exist, where it’s always surprising, but The Janes are always ready to deal with it. It’s also a credit to the various art teams that they can make yetis, spirits, Greek/Egyptian statues and sea monsters fit together. And the decision to make each haunted happening its own issue helps balance the overarching story by divvying up the content for each issue.
What also helps elevate the series is the character, both in the colorful personalities and the world they live in. Each of the five girls strikes that perfect balance between being broad enough as to allow the audience to recognize and identify with each of them, but also reveal multiple dimensions that make them unique. While each fits an ‘archetype’ of sorts—the analytical one, the punk, the wildcard—it doesn’t restrain, instead it allows the personalities and relationships to each other make each of them endearing. And one of the series’ strong suits is that each character contributes to solving their various struggles and mysteries. There aren’t any Scoobys and Shaggys here, each character has a deliberate set of skills that they use to further the team.
Special recognition must be made toward their scout leader and campus counselors, Jen and Rosie. They make a great comedic team, Jen being the put upon worry-wart while Rosie is weirdly cavalier about all of the haunted happenings.
And the world and humor of the series wraps everything up in a perfect bow. The vibrant and earthy palate is inviting, comforting and perfectly fitting. The humor ranges from dry to anarchic like the best of modern cartoons (my personal favorite gag is the use of famous women as expletives). The use of ‘scout life’ is frequently brilliant, such book-ending each comic with a related badge. The world of “Miss Quinzella Thiskwin Penniquiqul Thistle Crumpet’s Camp for Hardcore Lady Types” is rich, boasts hidden depth and has something new on every page.
I’ve gushed about this series before, but it really does bare repeating. It’s funny, endearing, brimming with personality and pleasantly and subtly forward thinking. And for Halloween, it’s the perfect light read. The creators of the series created a series that captures the character dynamics of “Scooby-Doo” and transcribes them for the modern era, and use the classic horror trope of Summer Camp reveals the perfect venue for spooky and surreal mysteries. While Bobst currently does not have any trades of “Lumberjanes,” you can pick them up at the New York Public Library.
Hope you had a Happy Halloween!