This issue goes deeper into the characters of Jo and Molly, giving us plenty of tension with the Lumberjanes. The art is light and plays with time, providing a contrast with some of the darker moments of the issue. Overall, it's a slower-paced issue with great character development and mystery that leaves me wanting for the next issue!
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The Lumberjanes have been at camp for a very long time — or, at least, for 40 issues. LUMBERJANES #41, written by Shannon Watters and Kat Leyh and drawn by Ayme Sotuyo, is no different. The Lumberjanes have been investigating the way time works at the camp for the past few issues. Jo, Molly, April, Mal, and Ripley have all been trying to figure out the answers to the mysteries that have popped up ever since arriving at camp for the summer. In LUMBERJANES #41, they now know that time moves slower at camp, and Jo’s new device, MYSTY, just might be able to tell them how that works. And Molly has some tricks up her sleeves, too. Is Molly trying to keep them there… forever?

Lumberjanes #41 page 4
LUMBERJANES #41, page four. Courtesy of BOOM! Studios.

Time is a Mystery

Each of Sotuyo’s pages is fully aware of time. Almost every page has full-bleed panels (panels that don’t have any borders and often have other panels layered on top of them) — this is a common way to play with time in sequential art. We as readers assume the passage of time in the white space between panels. When we don’t have that, time seems to stop, as though it’s all one continuous image. Sotuyo does a phenomenal job with this. The way the panels interact makes it seem like time is either passing incredibly slowly or has stopped entirely. It slows the pacing of the book down while allowing for more space for character development.

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Issues like these are my personal favorites. Though this issue doesn’t have tons of action and the pacing is slower than previous LUMBERJANES issues, it’s still a very quick read. The art brings a lightness and easiness to each page, bringing a contrast to the deeper character issues we’re starting to see. In particular, the colors used throughout the issue create a real distinction between the fun and the serious. While Jo puts up her invention and during the paper airplane experiment, the colors are bright and cheerful. At nightfall, when Molly’s intense dream happens, the colors darken significantly. The art creates a perfect balance between the fun of the book and the seriousness of some of the subject matter.

Character Driven

The change in coloring helps to move us through time while the borderless and full-bleed panels try to keep us stationary. That tension in the art translates, then, to the characters. The character development in this issue focuses largely on Jo and Molly.

We get a brief little insight into Jo and her re-burgeoning interest in science. She’s a science prodigy, building the MYSTY to learn about the way time works at camp. We learn more about her through a quick flashback to her life back home. The flashback is grey, with only Jo in color, while the current time is colored brightly.

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Then there is Molly. She experiences deep, intense moments like her dream. It’s a horrible nightmare, where Molly’s mom forces her to fit into a literal coffin-like shape. Molly doesn’t believe that she’ll fit but is forced into this spot anyway. This is an almost too on-the-nose metaphor for not fitting in, but it is so successful. That moment is the highest moment of tension for me, but it expands Molly’s character to a whole new level. In earlier issues, we see that she has a difficult relationship with her family, but this solidifies it. These little shifts add so many subconscious layers to the story that really underscore what the characters are truly feeling.

Lumberjanes #41 page 8
LUMBERJANES #41, page eight. Courtesy of BOOM! Studios.

Relatable Role Models

Jo flat out says that “Science is THE BEST.” I absolutely adore this moment because it can be such a great way for a young girl to see that a love of science is truly an amazing thing and can be used anywhere. The Lumberjanes are awesome role models no matter what your age is. They truly are so diverse in their likes and their personalities, and that’s such a big part of what makes this comic one of my personal favorites consistently.

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And then there is Molly. Molly wants nothing more than to not go back home, and we can interpret through the scene of her dream exactly why. Her mother desperately wants her to be something she’s not, and Molly doesn’t feel as though she’s loved for who she truly is. She wants to be who she is, but is constantly shoved into a mold that she doesn’t belong in. This leads her to the decision that she makes in the later pages of this issue. Though we don’t know how, things will change for the Lumberjanes forever — hopefully for the better.

LUMBERJANES #41: Friendship Forever to the Max!

That’s one of the greatest things about LUMBERJANES. The characters are so inviting, and so true to life. They’re complex, imperfect, and three-dimensional. Molly just wants to stay at camp forever with her friends, solving mysteries and getting into trouble in the forest. The rest of the girls seem to be cool with the fact that time passes in a weird way, but some of them are ready to go home. Will that affect them in future issues? I have a feeling that it will certainly cause some tension, at the very least.

The Lumberjanes are a strong bunch, for sure, but this issue leads me to believe that their friendship is going to be truly tested in the coming issues. I’m left with tons of questions — what did Molly really do? Where do they go from here? What happens if they really can slow time to an almost crawl? What in the world is going on? Will they stay at camp forever? I, for one, certainly hope they will find a way to stay — at least for a few more issues, anyway.

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