Comics/Graphic Novels

What the Junk: Lumberjanes #11 & #12

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.

I basically want to hug all of my fellow Lumberjanes readers right now. The pages of Lumberjanes contain mysteries upon mysteries and references upon references, and our goal here at What the Junk is to decode at least a few and gather clues along the way. And Issues 11 & 12 give us so much food for thought!

For starters, we are at long last learning more about the Bear Woman. She’s been revealed as a previous Camp Director, one who claims to have run a tighter ship than current director Rosie. But I have my doubts about that bit. For Hatshepsut’s sake, SHE’S A BEAR WOMAN. You don’t get the power to magically transform in and out of bear-form by avoiding any and all shenanigans.

Lumberjanes Issue 11, Bear Woman

art by Carolyn Nowak

I continue to just want to hug Mal and Molly forever, both separately and together. Mal’s anxiety attack in Issue 11 is completely understandable, and perfectly portrayed. From her dialogue font-sizing to her dialogue, you can feel the stress and uncertainty pouring off of her. Her fears are real, and Molly treats them as such while still managing to help Mal find her confidence.

We got an inkling of Molly’s home situation back in Issue 10 and while we still don’t know the specifics, her attachment to camp and pluck in the face of dinosaurs makes more and more sense. As she says, “Fighting monsters is the easy part. Back home is where the really scary stuff is.” I don’t know about you but at that line I literally hugged the comic. Molly has grown so much from the girl in the cave who didn’t know what her “thing” was, and I can’t help but love her more with every page.

Of course, there are also the usual awesome Easter eggs: the Lost World contains the piranha plants from Mario Brothers’ games, a pterosaur playing Solitaire, a totally adorable dino-baby in glasses, and the continued adventures of Bubbles and Ripley — who both look smashing in ballroom dress, I think we can all agree.

And what’s a Lumberjanes story without a couple famous lady-type invocations? Anne Bancroft would indeed have approved of Molly and Mal’s successful scheming. A talented actress, she played Anne Sullivan in The Miracle Worker both on-stage and film, earning a Tony Award and an Academy Award. She went on to play Mrs. Robinson in The Graduate, and continued to work well into her 70s. She and her husband Mel Brooks were also one of Hollywood’s most dedicated couples, married for over 40 years.

Dorothy Dietrich, an escape artist herself, is one of the world’s leading female magicians. She holds a world’s record for doing the straight jacket escape — and not just any escape, but from the bottom of a parachute ride hanging from a burning rope. (How is that even remotely possible?!) She was also the first woman to catch a bullet in her mouth (YOU GUYS I CANNOT), and the first woman to saw a man in half. She was selected by the Columbia University Encyclopedia as one of the eight most noted magicians of the late 20th century.

The biggest highlight of Issue 12 for many of us fans was the shot of Jo and April as tiny bestie babies.

Lumberjanes Issue 12, April and Jo

art by Carolyn Nowak

After having looked closer at the picture, there is much speculating (and rejoicing at the possibility) that Jo is transgender. In the Greek mythological tradition that Lumberjanes is steeped in, there’s certainly precedent. The prophet Tiresias, a personal favorite of mine, was transformed into a woman by Hera and not only became a priestess but married and had children. While Tiresias eventually returned to male form, she was celebrated as a bridge between many different worlds thanks to her fluidity, mediating between humanity and the gods, male and female, and present and future. I’ve also seen speculation that Ripley is non-binary — and let’s face it, Ripley can and should be anything that zie wants to be. All lady types are welcome here.

What do you think, friends? Tell me your theories!

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