Lumberjanes, Vol. 10
Shannon Waters and Kat Leyh (Writers), Aubrey Aiese (Letterer), Maarta Laiho (Colorist), Ayme Sotuyo (Artist)
November 29, 2018
The series Lumberjanes consistently redefines girlhood by including gay, queer, and trans identities often left out of common narratives about girls, and in the latest volume, collecting the “Parent’s Day” arc, the creators take the same approach to parenthood as they do girlhood. By including gay, interracial, and single parents, the series avoids common narratives that center white, heterosexual parenthood. Equally important to representation is the creators’ ability to present the girls as heroines even in the presence of parental figures.
As the girls prepare for Parent’s Day, they realize their parents may not respond well to the camp’s supernatural features. In fact, the girls wonder if their parents will worry for their safety and send them home. In an effort to stay at camp, they decide to keep these facts to themselves.
Things do not go as planned, of course, and woodland creatures attack the girls and their families, making them lose their way in the woods. In true Lumberjanes form, things only get weirder from there, and the girls are forced to leave their parents behind to seek help from Nellie (a.k.a. Bear Woman). The parents protest this plan, but the girls ignore their wishes and head off to save the day.
By allowing the girls to save their parents from the woods and not vise versa, they remain the heroines of the story, which is a central thread to the Lumberjanes series. Lumberjanes is ultimately about these five girls, their friendship, and their kick-ass teamwork. Sure, supernatural events drive the plot forward, but readers remain invested because the girls’ personalities resonate with so many; they are self-sufficient, smart, sensitive, talented, and leaders. These characteristics come through in the writing, but are fully actualized through illustration. For example, in “Parent’s Day,” artist Ayme Sotuyo translates these personalities to the page by drawing the girls in constant motion, with a vibrant range of expressions, further demonstrating Lumberjanes mission of presenting them as active protagonists rather than passive damsels. Therefore, “Parent’s Day” does an excellent job of keeping to the core qualities of the Lumberjanes series while also introducing new characters—parents at that!
“Parent’s Day” also deals with tough emotions that go along with parent-child relationships, especially for gay, queer, and trans children. While most of the girls’ parents are supportive, Molly’s parents are absent for most of the story. They show up at the end, but only to tell her she is “careless” and point out she looks “filthy.” Readers know Molly as shy and lacking confidence, and this moment gives us a deeper understanding of Molly’s emotions. Of course, Molly’s sensitivity is ultimately a strength, something the series is always good at demonstrating. In “Parent’s Day,” Molly is vulnerable enough to open up to Mal about her parents. Mal comforts her by reminding her she is not alone; she has friends that understand her. “Parent’s Day” ends with Molly talking about literally slowing down time. She clearly feels more accepted at camp than at home.
Lumberjanes is always good at grappling with tough emotions, and Molly’s relationship with her parents is just one example. However, by pairing these tough emotions with a lively and color-packed world, Lumberjanes still serves as an escape for readers. “Parent’s Day” is no exception; the relatable emotional struggles pull in readers while the animated personalities pop of the page. Therefore, “Parent’s Day” is Lumberjanes storytelling at its best: the issue is jam-packed with vibrant color and supernatural adventures, but despite its otherworldly qualities, “Parent’s Day” is down-to-earth about tough issues and emotional realities. It is this combination that makes readers return with every new publication, and it is what makes “Parent’s Day” a fun and heartwarming read.