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What the Junk: An Investigation of My Lumberjanes Obsession

Jenn Northington

Director, Editorial Operations

Jenn Northington has worked in the publishing industry wearing various hats since 2004, including bookseller and events director, and is currently Director of Editorial Operations at Riot New Media Group. You can hear her on the SFF Yeah! podcast nerding out about sci-fi and fantasy. When she’s not working, she’s most likely gardening, running, or (obviously) reading. Find her on Tumblr at jennIRL and Instagram at iamjennIRL.

What would possess a 31-year-old woman to sew Lumberjanes badges onto her favorite hoodie (stabbing herself with a needle several times in the process, I should note)? Let us investigate, using Issue #10 as our touch-point.

hoodie with lumberjanes patchesIs it: their pop culture references?
There is no doubt in my mind that April is indeed a Rookie fan — their whip-smart writers, community participation, and exploration of the many facets of teen life would definitely appeal to her. In fact, I bet April regularly submits posts.

The Lumberjanes team frequently injects Easter eggs like these into the comics, to readers’ delight. These girls might be off having adventures we can only dream of, but they’re reading the books and watching the movies that we know and love.

Is it: their liberal use of mythological creatures?
Greek deities, Yeti, giant river-dwelling serpents, potential chupacabras, or were-bears: the woods around the Camp for Hardcore Lady Types are brimming with mischievous supernatural beings. For anyone who lugged Bullfinch’s Mythology on the school bus, stayed up too late researching cryptozoology, and devoured fairytales and folklore, each appearance is yet another nod to our mutual obsessions.

Is it: the way they fully embrace The More You Know?

How many of you already knew who Mary Anning was? How many of you googled her after reading Issue #10? (For those who didn’t: once dubbed “the greatest fossilist the world ever knew,” Anning discovered the first nearly complete Plesiosaurus, among many other great finds. Bucking the curve way back in the 1800s, she was a lower-class provincial woman in a field full of privileged, university educated men.) Heard of the Fibonacci sequence? Studied your constellations? Constructed a tin-can telephone? If you’ve been reading Lumberjanes, you’ve been invited to study feminist icons, delve into the Latin names of plants, construct various useful contraptions, and learn encryption techniques, and your life is probably more interesting for it.

Lumberjanes 10 dinosaurs

art by Carolyn Nowak

Is it: how perfectly they capture the soul of summer camp?
Our campers don’t just face supernatural problems — as Issue #10 reminds us, they also have all of the regular, humdrum problems of camp kids. Some days are so boring you find yourself trying to earn a badge involving fondant. Sometimes the other campers really, really suck. And sometimes, if you’re like Molly, you’ve come to camp to find friends and figure out who you are because you just can’t do it at home. April and Jo’s friendship is years long and year-round; Mal who has a whole pack of compadres back home; but as we discovered this issue, Molly would rather be at camp than pretty much anywhere else. Heck, even being stuck in Cretaceous period might be preferable to her, as long as Mal is there too. As a kid who felt tied down by my family and community’s expectations, summer camp was absolutely essential. It was three hours from home, full of people I’d never met before and might never meet again, and finally I felt like I could breathe. Horseback riding and Capture the Flag were bonuses!

Answer: all of the above.

Friendship to the Max, friends — whether you’re a camper, counselor, or just fondly remembering.