When the comic Lumberjanes debuted back in 2014, it was originally meant to be an 8-issue mini-series from BOOM!, created by Shannon Watters, Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis, and Brooke A. Allen that was aimed at younger female readers. After the first issue, it became apparent that it was a tremendous success, capturing the attention of men, women, boys, girls, and even the LGBTQ community. Gaining two Eisner Award nominations and critical acclaim the world over, as well as a movie option, Lumberjanes is a force to be reckoned with in comics. Watters, co-writer and co-creator, will be continuing on with writing and editing duties when Stevenson leaves the series after issue 17. Watters was kind enough to take some time out of her busy Comic-Con schedule to answer a few of my questions about the future of Lumberjanes.
Cameron Hatheway: With Noelle Stevenson leaving after issue 17 and Kat Leyh coming onboard to help out with writing duties, what's the transition been like for you?
Shannon Watters: It's actually been pretty seamless as it can be. Noelle is very, very busy. This isn't her leaving because she's bummed out—she has a full-time job, and is doing another book for HarperCollins that she's drawing and co-writing. [Lumberjanes] was supposed to be an 8-issue series, and so it's been a real challenge for us to figure out how it works as an ongoing. Brooke [A. Allen] is an incredibly meticulous artist, and she is Lumberjanes. She's perfect for Lumberjanes, but we've had to figure out how that works when Brooke has to draw a comic every month, and we're not necessarily prepared for that. The last 8-issues has been kind of a transition period in of itself because we try to figure out what members of the team can do what. Kat's an awesome writer, and I'm really excited to have her help on the day-to-day duties, but the whole team is still involved in the overarching planning. We see everything. The whole team sees everything and give notes on everything. It's sort of like a Saturday morning cartoon, where it's a writers room and we all kind of put in our two cents.
CH: This is your family in a sense, both on paper and behind the scenes.
SW: Exactly. And we all value it deeply.
CH: What direction are you and Leyh planning on taking the girls from issue 18 onwards?
SW: Same old adventures, it's going to be a ball. We have some mermaid riot girl characters coming up, we've got some shape shifters, some were-critters coming up. I hope you guys continue to enjoy the ride, because it's going to be the same old Lumberjanes shenanigans.
CH: What's it feel like knowing that several young girls are reading and really enjoying this series, and are reading more comics because of it?
SW: It means the most. It's the reason we do it, right? It's the reason we all stress out and freak out, and work ourselves dead. It's the reason we did it and the reason we do it, it means the world. Every single time a little girl comes up to me and buys Lumberjanes at a show or picks up Lumberjanes for the first time and asks her mom to buy it, it means the world. It's everything.
CH: It feels like you're editing every title at BOOM! While simultaneously co-plotting Lumberjanes. Have you caught the writing bug at all? Or to put it another way, do you have plans on writing any other comics in the near future?
SW: I write Lumberjanes, that's all I really have time for right now. I have a couple of non-fiction graphic novels that I'm working on as well, but I mostly handle the kids stuff at BOOM! and the BOOM! Box stuff. It's a lot of work, I'm a busy lady! [Laughter] I do yoga, and that helps, but I'm a busy lady, I'm running all the time. I love what I do, but there's always so much. But I'm very passionate about what I do and the comics I put out, and the people that I work with. I just try to do my best every day.
CH: When the Lumberjanes movie was announced, fans got pretty excited. How much of a role will you play in the production of the movie, or has your part already been played by simply co-creating the series?
SW: So right now it's just been optioned, which means they've essentially bought the option to do something with it. So at this point we don't know how far the movie process is going to go, what our involvement is, but BOOM! is an active producer in it because that's part of our First Look deal with FOX. So we should have some say in the decisions, but obviously when something gets optioned, Hollywood is a completely different world. It's a million different moving parts, and realistically you can only expect so much control no matter how good your deal is or how good your contract is. Someone like J.K. Rowling can have complete control, but four first time creators in that space…we get a little and hope for the people involved to handle the material as honestly and as fairly as they can.
CH: What's been the biggest compliment you've received in regards to the series? An Eisner Award nomination doesn't hurt, right?
SW: To be honored that way by our peers is huge. The queer community embracing the comic has been massive, personally for us. And the way that little girls have embraced it has been a huge compliment, meeting little girls who are tomboys, or meeting little girls who are gender non-normative, or gender non-normative kids in general who see themselves in this book, or something in this book that appeals to them is really humbling and amazing and it's the reason that we keep doing it. If it's helping somebody feel safer and better in their own skin as a kid, to feel like somebody out there understands who they are, then that's really special. It's a really special thing to be able to do.
CH: What's the one thing you have to do when attending Comic-Con? A certain restaurant a must-visit, or a tradition that's upheld?
SW: Yeah when we get in on the train, because BOOM! is in Los Angeles, we take the train down and we go and get burritos at La Puerta immediately. We drop-off our bags and go get burritos and margaritas because it's always hot and we're always tired, and then it's like, "Okay, we're ready for Preview Night." And that's the one thing that every year we do; I always get La Puerta burritos right off the train.
Hours after doing this interview, Watters and Lumberjanes went on to win the Eisner for Best New Series and Best Publication for Teens (ages 13-17). Special thanks to Watters for taking time out of her hectic Comic-Con schedule, and Mel Caylo for helping set this up.