It can be difficult for educators and librarians to find professional reviews of comics and graphic novels in the best of situations, due in part to the small section of revered outlets that review comics. But for a successful series like Lumberjanes, it can become impossible to track down information to support the inclusion of later volumes in a curriculum or collection – and this can directly impact teachers and librarians ability to react to challenges. But lack of obvious reviews doesn’t correlate to merit. Take a look at these reviews and other resources for Lumberjanes: The Infernal Compass to make your case for adding this volume to your collection today.
Lumberjanes: The Infernal Compass is the first Original Graphic Novel in the series, written by best-selling author Lilah Sturges and illustrated beautifully by polterink. The OGN is designed so that it may be read on its own, but works well playing off of character development achieved through reading the preceding volumes of Lumberjanes. Infernal Compass is the first of three OGNS planned with Sturges and polterink at the helm, with the next installation slated for later in 2019 and the final volume due out in 2020.
When Sturges spoke about the book’s main focus involving Mal and Molly’s relationship she said, “The idea of giving young people models of healthy queer relationships is something that really matters to me, and something I could have used myself when I was young.”
“First love is a fraught, tender thing, and we loved the idea of focusing on the fears and anxieties the come with starting a relationship in an existing friend group. The rest of it was coming up with the funnest, Lumberjane-iest possible means of expressing that conflict in a big way.”
When the ‘Janes are separated during an orienteering outing thanks to a mysterious compass, Molly becomes more and more insecure about the effect her relationship with Mal is having on the other girls. Meanwhile, a lonely explorer is trying to steal the compass with the help of her weirdly polite automaton butlers.
Praise & Press for Infernal Compass
Another strength of Sturges’ writing is how she highlights the Lumberjanes’ iconic philosophy: Friendship to the Max! The Lumberjanes series uses the magical camp as a setting to convey lessons about the importance of friendship. Specifically, LUMBERJANES: THE INFERNAL COMPASS plays with the pun of being emotionally lost versus physically lost to great effect. Either way, these lost campers find that friends often prove key in finding your way out of the woods.
As someone who has dipped a toe into the Lumberjanes universe on occasion, but wouldn’t call themselves a die-hard fan, I wasn’t sure if I would be able to pick up the threads of Lumberjanes: The Infernal Compass. I had nothing to worry about on that front however, as there is plenty is this OGN for even the most casual reader…
Whilst the artwork from Polterink isn’t the usual curvy cuddly style I’m used to from the original Lumberjanes series, it is easy enough to follow, with pared down backgrounds and a simple colour palette. The more naturalistic style works well with the story, and although this is the first thing I have read from Lilah Sturges, it’s sure to not be the last.
Heartfelt young adult comics written by women are often more accessible than long-running superhero comics, whose multi-universe lore can present a barrier for new fans. “I wrote for DC for 10 years and don’t know who Robin is right now,” Sturges laughs. The more accepting environment cultivated by some women creators can also ease fan alienation and prejudice. Sturges points to the successes of Eisner Award winner Raina Telgemeier and bestselling cartoonist Jen Wang as evidence of women writers gaining traction. And personally, she considers the Lumberjanes experience “a really warm, loving environment to create in,” thanks to its LGBTQ and women collaborators. Sturges is thriving in this vibrant community and already has several projects lined up next. “My experience is at least some small testament that coming out as trans can really make your life amazing.”
- From Comics Beat: Lilah Sturges on Lumberjanes & Representation in Comics
- Fiction Advocate Lilah Sturges Interview
- Publisher’s Weekly Interview with Lilah Sturges and polterink
For Lumberjanes Series
- Maryland Association of School Librarians Lumberjanes Resources
- Using Graphic Novels in Education: Lumberjanes
- Adding Lumberjanes to Your Classroom or Library
For The Infernal Compass
- 30th GLAAD Media Award Nominee for Outstanding Comic Book
- 2014 Autostraddle Comic and Sequential Art Award Winner — Favorite Indie Book
- 2014 Autostraddle Comic and Sequential Art Award Winner — Favorite Queer Comics Couple (Mal and Molly)
- 2014 Autostraddle Comic and Sequential Art Award Shortlist — Favorite Queer Character (The girls)
- 2014 Autostraddle Comic and Sequential Art Award Winner — Favorite Overall Comic
- 2015 Autostraddle Comic and Sequential Art Award Winner — Favorite All-Ages Comic
- 2015 Autostraddle Comic and Sequential Art Award Winner — Favorite Single Issue (Lumberjanes #17)
- 2015 Autostraddle Comic and Sequential Art Award Winner — Favorite Queer Comic Couple (Mal and Molly)
- 2015 Autostraddle Comic and Sequential Art Award Winner — Favorite Overall Comic
- 2015 Autostraddle Comic and Sequential Art Awards Shortlist — Favorite Indie Book
- 2015 Autostraddle Comic and Sequential Art Awards Shortlist — Favorite Queer Comic Character (Jo, April, Mal, Molly, and Ripley)
- 2016 Autostraddle Comic and Sequential Art Awards Winner — Favorite All-Ages Comic
- 2016 Autostraddle Comic and Sequential Art Award Winner — Favorite Queer Couple (Mal and Molly)
- 2015 Eisner Award for Best New Series
- 2015 Eisner Award for Best Publication for Teens
- 26th GLAAD Media Award Nominee for Outstanding Comic Book
What Should I Do if Lumberjanes is Challenged?
Most challenges to comics in libraries come from well-meaning individuals, frequently parents, who find something they believe is objectionable in their local public or school library. These challenges are often difficult and stressful for the library staff who must manage them, but there are resources to help them in the process. Below we’ve identified a number of tips and links to assist libraries to increase the likelihood of keeping challenged comics on the shelves.
1. Make Strong Policies.
Strong selection and challenge review policies are key for protecting access to library materials, including comics. The American Library Association has developed a number of excellent tools to assist school and public libraries in the essential preparation to perform before books are challenged here.
2. Face the Challenge.
What do you do when a comic is challenged? Much of the material in this post can be used to help defend Fun Home against a challenge. The American Library Association has developed these helpful tools to cope with challenges:
- Conducting a Challenge Hearing
- Strategies and Tips for Dealing with Challenges
- Sample Request for Reconsideration of Library Resources
CBLDF can also help by providing assistance with locating review resources, writing letters of support, and facilitating access to experts and resources. Call 800-99-CBLDF or email firstname.lastname@example.org at the first sign of a First Amendment emergency!
3. Report the Challenge.
Another essential step in protecting access to comics is to report challenges when they occur. By reporting challenges, you help the free expression community gather necessary information about what materials are at risk so better tools can be created to assist. To report a challenge to the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, call us at 800-99-CBLDF or email email@example.com. You can also report the challenge to the Kids’ Right to Read Project, a CBLDF-sponsored program from the National Coalition Against Censorship and one of our frequent partners in the fight against censorship. Finally, you can report the challenge to ALA here.