The Past is Rosy in Lumberjanes 50

by Taylor Anderson

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

The ancient Greeks had an idea that the past was always better than the present. They arrived at this notion by comparing their present society to those which existed in ancient times. When they did this, they compared the men of their present day to the likes of Heracles and Achillies, which explains why they thought of their time as inferior. Modern day society has the propensity to look at the past as better than the present in the same way. The fact that our current president won the election by claiming the 1950s were the pinnacle of society proves this true. Still, consensus these days is that the past isn’t all that rosy, but that would be a hard point to prove if you were using Lumberjanes 50 as evidence.

It’s hard to believe, but Lumberjanes has been running for over four years now! In that time the series has ebbed and flowed in terms of quality and this issue reminds me of that particular characteristic. What makes this so is how lackluster the narrative of the this 50th is. There are two storylines in this issue, one that follows some of the Janes playing a Settlers of Catan-style board game, and another where some other Janes scout out underground tunnels. If neither of those sounds exciting, that’s because they aren’t. Both stories are rote and lack much in the way of verve or imagination.

This shortcoming is doubly apparent because this issue has a coda which reminds me of what made the past issues of Lumberjanes so damn good. Brooklyn Allen returns to the pencils for this brief portion of the issue and his artwork makes me yearn for the early issues of this series. Compared with the artwork of Dozerdraws, there just is no contest.

Allen has always managed to create a whimsical yet inviting look to his artwork with simple, symbolic character design juxtaposed with a detailed and realistic setting. Here, the bear, forest, and trees draw me into a world that seems just outside of my door, but somehow different. This means this part of the issue has a sense of mystery and darkness to it that other, more recent issues of Lumberjanes have lacked. This series is at its best when it taps into these two things, and it’s a welcome return to sees them expressed in Allen’s artwork.

This serves as a reminder that even though society is better now than it was in the past, some of what was created previously can still be superior.

The conversation doesn’t stop there. What do you wanna talk about from this issue?

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