Graphic Novels, Tough Chicks is an original feature that celebrates the amazing female characters that abound in graphic novels. While many people still associate this particular form with a male readership, certain graphic novels empower women and combat feminine stereotypes through illustration and text. Tough chicks resist injustice, fight for their beliefs, and they don’t take flak from nobody. These women are capable of fighting their own battles, both literally and figuratively.

Lumberjanes Vol. 1Lumberjanes Vol. 1: Beware the Kitten Holy

Authors & Illustrator: Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis, and Brooke A. Allen

Genre: Fantasy, Middle Grade/YA

Publisher: BOOM! Studios on January 1, 2014

Source: Library


At Miss Qiunzilla Thiskwin Penniquiqul Thistle Crumpet’s camp for hard-core lady-types, things are not what they seem. View Spoiler »Three-eyed foxes. Secret caves. Anagrams. Luckily, Jo, April, Mal, Molly, and Ripley are five rad, butt-kicking best pals determined to have an awesome summer together… And they’re not gonna let a magical quest or an array of supernatural critters get in their way! The mystery keeps getting bigger, and it all begins here.

Collects Lumberjanes #1-4.[/spoiler=]

If you’re a supporter of women in comics or women in genre (or just, like, awesomeness in general) you need to read LUMERJANES VOL. 1 by Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis, and Brooke A. Allen. This Eisner-winning graphic novel is written and illustrated by three kickass ladies who know the value of representing young women in all their forms – without sacrificing fun and adventure.

Jo, Molly, Mal, April, and Ripley are all staying at a Camp for Hardcore Lady-Types who are spending the summer in the same cabin. They’re accompanied by their beleaguered camp counselor Jen who vacillates between sheer panic at their reckless antics and grudging amusement at their…well, reckless antics. But it’s not as if this group of Lumberjanes can really be blamed for the scrapes they get into. How the heck could they have predicted three-eyed mutant foxes and a mysterious figure called the Kitten Holy?

Image: Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis, & Brooke A. Allen
Image: Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis, & Brooke A. Allen

The relationships between the characters sold this one for me – well, that and the stellar dialogue. A lot of the more complex elements of LUMBERJANES VOL. 1 – feminism, queer representation, and body positivity – are very subtly done and are completely without profanity, making this a perfect choice for all ages. Personally I would’ve killed to read something like this when I was in elementary or middle school, but I still enjoyed the hell out of it as an adult reader. That’s pretty impressive when you consider that the girls are so young, with ages that I’d pin down between about 12-15.

The quintessential summer camp experience is immortalized in LUMBERJANES VOL. 1, including traditional activities like campfires and canoeing. While the girls are trying to solve the mysteries surrounding the camp, they’re also just having a good time doing camp things. This volume collects four issues, with each focusing on the girls earning a specific Lumberjanes badge. Some of the badges include the brilliantly named “everything under the sum” (math and physics) and “naval gauging” (water sports). There’s also a badge called “pungeon master” awarded for best puns. Sign me up!

Lumberjanes Excerpt 1
Image: Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis, & Brooke A. Allen

LUMBERJANES VOL. 1 isn’t just fun and friendship, though: it’s about good old-fashioned girl power. I mean feminism. Whatever, when I was the Lumberjanes’ age I just called it girl power. The LJs work together to solve their problems, using their unique skills and proclivities to stay one step ahead. Three cheers for autonomy! But this graphic novel also makes a more explicit connection to feminism by incorporating some of history’s most remarkable women (many of them women of colour). How are they incorporated? With exclamations like “Holy Mae Jemison!” instead of a more, ahem, choice phrase. I also love the inclusion of girls who have a more androgynous or masculine look, along with characters like Molly who has a very traditionally feminine style. 

Yes, there’s silliness and wackadoo supernatural stuff going on but LUMBERJANES VOL. 1 wouldn’t be what it is without girl power, female friendship, and celebrating young women in all their forms. If that’s not the perfect recipe for this Graphic Novels, Tough Chicks feature then I don’t know what is!

What book was your most surprising – and awesome – feminist find? Did you ever have your own summer camp adventures? Sound off in the comments!


  1. I love the art style – the variety in the main character designs is fantastic!

    I remember in the 6th grade, we read a novel about a kid who went to summer camp (I can’t recall the name of the book or any real details) – anyway, after we read the book, we were assigned to write a ‘letter to home’ from the perspective of the protagonist. I thought it was a fun way to get the summer camp experience, since I hadn’t been at that time.

    1. Isn’t it awesome? I always love seeing a cast of characters who looks different from one another, in every respect.

      Summer camp is definitely a memorable experience, although I can’t say that I ever wrote any letters home! I liked having a tiny vacation from always telling people where I was and what I was doing, haha. But that sounds like a very fun writing exercise!

  2. THIS will be my reward for the article (as well as a bunch of other books). I put myself on a book-buying ban until I finish writing the damn thing and this sounds like the perfect pick-me-up! 🙂 I’m SO READY to dive into the comics you keep recommending!

    1. YAY! Projecting positive thoughts into the universe re: the article of doom. Book buying bans are the worst, but sometimes they really are necessary. I always envy your will power and your comparatively small pile of unread TBR books. Can’t wait to hear your thoughts on some of these, Kaja! 😀

  3. I definitely have this on my list to read. I’m going to try to read more graphic novels, and this will be one for sure, I’ve heard nothing but great things about it!

    1. It is SO much fun, Tammy! I love seeing a good adventure story, especially one starring so many unique ladies. Your kids might enjoy this one too, actually!

  4. Haha, another one to add to my list. And I haven’t even gotten around to picking up Nimona yet! I’ll be going on my graphic novel binge soon though, because there’s the next Saga TPB to preorder – and I’ll be sure to hit you up for more recommendations while I’m picking up a bunch 😉


    1. The TBR pile: the gift that keeps on giving, haha. Ooooh tough call between Nimona and Lumberjanes, but personally I preferred Nimona. Noelle Stevenson is definitely a writer (and artist!) to watch, either way. I cannot wait for Saga Vol. 5 – that cliffhanger was brutal!

    • Lisa (@TenaciousReader)

    • 7 years ago

    Once again, I love this feature! 🙂 And, here’s another one to add to the TBR!

    1. Yay, I’m so glad! I’m pretty proud of it, not gonna lie. 🙂 I hope you enjoy the Lumberjanes and their zany adventures as much as I did!

  5. Love this because I have had The Lumberjanes on my to buy list for ages, I mean I’ve just gotten around to ordering Nimona and hopefully it will get delivered this week and I’ve seen everywhere that The Lumberjanes is meant to be good so I’m going to read it eventually, it’ll just take me a little while.

    1. I hear ya! I keep buying all these books and telling people I’ll read them, but other books always come out and for some reason I read the new ones first! Nimona is so great, I really hope you like it. Lumberjanes is very different in terms of plot/characters, but the humour is similar since Noelle Stevenson wrote Nimona and was part of the writing team for Lumberjanes. I think if you enjoyed one, you’ll enjoy the other! 🙂

      1. I’m glad I’m not alone in saying I’ll read something and then getting distracted by newer shinier reads. I’ve now read Nimona (yay) and it was good, I love Noelle Stevenson’s art style (important with graphic novels) and I love her humour. It definitely did not go as expected with the story, but I liked it more for that. I also learnt I was already a fan of Stevenson’s, I’ve been following her on tumblr for ages (who knew) so I am even more likely to buy Lumberjanes now, it’s not out until the end of September according to my local bookstore, though.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.