by Taylor Anderson
This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!
Being a middle school teacher helps me keep my ear to ground when it comes to trends that the young folk are into these days. Of these trends, one that seems to be the most popular is manga. Manga isn’t new to American and it certainly isn’t new to pop-culture. However, it has now become a mainstay in youth culture, or are least middle school culture. Most kids have read at least one manga by the time they’re in 7th grade, and it’s safe to say more have read this version of pictoral stories than their American (or European) counterparts. As such, it’s no surprise Ayme Sotuyo is the chosen artist of the Lumberjanes series, as it’s the perfect style for a comic written with young readers in mind.
I mention Sotuyo’s manga influences not because they are anything new to Lumberjanes. Rather, I bring them up now because they stand out as being particularly memorable (and cute!) this issue. The ‘Janes have met a girl named Emmy who has a talent for taming weird and wonderful monsters. As Sotuyo draws these various creatures, they are adorable rather than scary. Often they have that wide-eyed stare that suggests little is happening in their brain, but that makes them all the more lovable. This is a great decision by Sotuyo because it plays up the cuteness of these animals so they seem less like monsters and more like lovable pets, which they are.
While I appreciate that, what I most like is how Sotuyo draws the various humans in this issue. The best moments are reserved for Ripley, whose exaggerated mannerisms lend themselves perfectly to Sotuyo’s manga-inspired style.
In each of the three panels above there are examples of they way Manga has influenced Sotuyo’s work. In the first panel, it’s the hair covering Ripley’s eyes which doesn’t get in the way of us seeing their outline. In the second, it’s the exaggerated pupils to show her intensity. And in the third it’s the multi-arm flap to show the playful movement of her body. It’s all executed well here and matches the light and frankly cute tone of this issue.
The conversation doesn’t stop there. What do you wanna talk about from this issue?