Writers Shannon Watters and Kat Leyh on four years of friendship to the max

By Nivea Serrao
April 26, 2017 at 03:29 PM EDT
BOOM STUDIOS

Fans have been getting to know the Lumberjanes for 37 issues, and now they’re going to get a chance to meet their parents.

The summer camp-set series kicks off its new eight-issue arc with a story that sees the girls’ parents come down to Miss Quinzella Thiskwin Penniquiqul Thistle Crumpet’s Camp for Hardcore Lady Types for a day of fun and scavenger hunting. But as the exclusive pages below show, that’s not all they’ll experience during their time at the camp.

This year marks the series’ fourth year in print, a big accomplishment for the BOOM! Studios comic. “Lumberjanes was a tough sell three-and-a-half years ago,” says Shannon Watters, BOOM! Studios editor and one of the series’ original creators. “It was an eight-issue miniseries that was very unapologetically queer and lady-forward, so by no means was it a sure thing. … Now it’s really bigger than any of us individually. I don’t think we could have done it or made it this far without our incredible team. It is so much stronger and better to have all of these people’s experience influence the book. It speaks to more people that way.”

With the best-selling series heading into its fourth year and finally introducing fans to each girl’s parents, EW caught up with Watters and co-writer Kat Leyh to discuss the Lumberjanes’ new nemesis, what’s ahead in the upcoming eight-issue arc, and what they’re most proud of so far.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: We’ve had glimpses of the girls’ families before, but why is this the right time to do a Parents’ Day story line?
WATTERS: We’re going into the fourth year of Lumberjanes, which is bananas. So we wanted to do something that was an event that is a little different from the day-to-day events that the girls regularly encounter in Lumberjanes. And we had been waiting, honestly since the beginning of the series, to explore Molly’s relationship with her family. So it was finally time to address that, and Parents’ Day feeds into both of those things. It also leads into a bigger, eight-issue time shenanigans arc. It’s our first one since the original eight-issue arc that started the series.

Regarding Molly’s parents, we know that her relationship with them is not the best. What can you share about what readers might encounter?
LEYH: We’re not going to see Molly’s parents in the same way that we’re going to see and interact with the other girls’ parents because we don’t want to get too deep into her relationship with them, but we want to imply. And we don’t want the Parents’ Day arc to be too harsh for Molly because the time shenanigans arc is kind of where she deals with her emotions about her family and the eventual end of summer.

About the other parents at camp, how will the girls be handling them as well as the supernatural stuff?
LEYH: They plan on hiding all of that from the parents, but not everything goes according to plan.
WATTERS: Almost immediately it doesn’t go according to plan.

What is the most exciting thing about getting to write the parents?
LEYH: One of my favorite parts is just the fact that we really only got glimpses of the parents before. So I get to make up a lot of their personality and their interactions. It’s been fun to explore all the different ways that preteens, especially, interact with their parents because they’re almost teenagers, some of them. They can get a little exasperated with their eccentric parents, which is pretty fun to write. We also get to see a side of the girls we normally don’t get to see.
WATTERS: And it’s such a different relationship that they have with their parents than they obviously have with their peers at camp, which is just fun to see.

By virtue of having the parents there, we instantly have more adults at camp than we normally do. How do you balance that while still keeping the girls’ wild energy and fun-loving spirit?
WATTERS: 
Parents invading for a few days and disrupting the status quo and then things returning to “normal” is very much a trope of summer camp stories. So we’re treating it like it’s an escapade or another monster adventure, just different conditions.
LEYH: Some of the girls, like April and Ripley, the fact that their parents are around does not diminish their wildness at all. And their parents seem very used to their kids’ shenanigans. I like the way that Ripley’s parents just kind of roll with everything that’s going on because you can tell they’re very used to their daughter’s wild, off-the-wall energy.
WATTERS: I love the way that April interacts with her dad. She’s so proud of her dad, and she has this very outside view of her dad, which I just love. He’s a very normal, straightforward guy. But I find her just total love and admiration for him so sweet.

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And Ripley’s Abuela’s back! Was there any template you looked at when coming up with her character?
LEYH: I wrote her as inspired a bit by my grandma who is really good at video games. She is not your cliché stereotypical grandmother character. She’s someone who you could imagine living in the same house with Ripley and a dozen other children because she’s super capable and not very flappable. She is also just very good at rolling with whatever situation happens to present itself in her own unique way.

The kids are also going to be going on a scavenger hunt. What can you tease about that?
WATTERS: It doesn’t turn out the way that they or Rosie expected it to. And it sets up the time shenanigans arc in a big way and presents us with a new nemesis for the girls.
LEYH: I really love the way that our artist, Amy, draws this character. I wanted her to go creepy, and she does a really good job of that. I’m excited for people to see this new character. It shows up at the very end of issue #38.

In terms of crafting a nemesis for the girls to go up against, what are some of the things you need to consider?
WATTERS: It’s a mix of reading about North American cryptids and various mythology. It just depends on kind of the emotional needs of the arc. And then you look for some critters to fit that.

With this being the fourth year of Lumberjanes what are you proudest of having accomplished?
WATTERS: All of it. Can you imagine having a single-issue original comic book running for almost four years? Especially one fronted primarily by queer people and ladies, and with a cast that is primarily ladies. It’s really, really cool. It’s amazing to have an all-ages comic that has touched so many people the way that this one has, especially considering our intended audience. It’s really profound because it is never easy to have a book continuing this long, so we’re really, really lucky that people want to keep reading.
LEYH: I was just going to say, since I’m not one of the original creators, I came on the book two years ago, and I’m just happy to have been able to keep a book going that is so significant because now I get to meet a bunch of fans who are oftentimes young. And one of the things the everyone who created the book felt was that they wanted to create a book that we would have really enjoyed when we were kids. That’s true for me as well. A younger me would have really glommed onto this book, hardcore. So I like being part of that.

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