Are you reading Lumberjanes? You should. I’ll likely be saying this again in this article, so just get used to it. Boom! Studios was nice enough to get me time with Noelle Stevenson, the co-writer of Lumberjanes where we talked about the series, the influences of the series, the characters, and just how great Scooby Doo is.
I’d say Gravity Falls but my major influence is Scooby Doo. It has that idea of the Magic 5 team. I’m all about the Pacific North West aesthetic; so Gravity Falls, Twin Peaks stuff like that. I’m a big fan of Buffy and X-Files so they all have a favorite place for me.
When were you introduced to Scooby Doo?
My parents were really strict but they let me watch Scooby Doo. I guess because it was a show that ended each episode with explaining away the magic. I always thought it was awesome cause it had monsters and it was scary. I felt like I was getting away with something, then the show would explain away the scary so that was great.
Velma. I was one of five siblings and we all got assigned characters and I got Velma. They told me I got her because I’m the nerd. I originally said no but then realized she’s the best, so they could eat it. I get personally offended when people rag on Velma.
Do you have a favorite of the series?
I really like the movies, the direct-to-video ones. Whenever I’d babysit I’d see if they had those and we’d quiet down watching those. I also really love the most recent show, Mystery Inc. It’s great. It’s really stylish. They have references to Watchmen and Ché Gueverra and what kid is going to get this? They have references to old stuff that no kid would get and some of them I barely get.
I really fond of Scooby Doo on Zombie Island. I remember really liking Scooby Doo and the Cyber Chase. Scooby Doo and Where’s my Mummy, that’s the one where Velma finally snaps so I love that one.
Back to Lumberjanes, when it comes to the cool monsters, do you get to come up with them or is it more of a collaborative work?
Grace and I are the co-writers so we basically just Skype each other. Grace was one of the original creators, so it was her idea to start with, and I was brought in later. It’s really chill, we hang out on Skype and sometimes we both order pizza like it’s a party. We spend a lot of back forth and one of us will say something like “What if this guy had a chainsaw for a hand or a half-snake half-octopus?” and then sometimes we’ll say “I know this is going to sound stupid, but what about this?” then we say something weird and the other goes “I like it!” “Good! I like it too!”
That’s the best thing about working with a co-writer, you can bounce stupid ideas off each other. You have a soundboard for ideas. When you write alone you may go “maybe it’s just me who finds this funny” but a co-writer helps you out so much. You can work together and there are no stupid ideas.
There’s gonna be more monsters! Well, that’s a given. We’re going to see a boys’ camp eventually. More mythology will be brought in. The first issue is a lot of foreshadowing and it’ll spread out through eight issues.
Back to things like Gravity Falls, X-Files, and Twin Peaks, favorite stuff from those series?
I wasn’t that into Twin Peaks back as a kid but I was very much into X-Files, very Scooby Doo. Jen is their counselor in Lumberjanes and she tends to have her back turned once the supernatural stuff happens, so she’s sort of our Scully. She’s our skeptic. With Gravity Falls it was kids solving supernatural mysteries and I love that, what could go wrong?
I was brought onto Lumberjanes a little bit after the inception of it. Shannon Watters and Grace Ellis came up with that idea. I was brought on originally for character designs. Grace is a first-time writer and I then got brought on to help with that as someone who has done comics before, I then started to contribute. I know that Shannon and Grace were inspired by Autostraddle’s A-Camp, which is like a camp for adults that they went on together like a retreat. I wasn’t a part of that but I know that influenced them.
You mentioned Scully as an influence for Jen, what were influences for some of the other characters?
I realized that one of the most fun characters to write is Ripley, the most immature member of the group. She’s a real firecracker of a character who is everybody’s best friend and really high energy. When I got her description to do the character design, it was explained that she played the drums. So I realized what ended up happening was she became Animal from the Muppets. I didn’t realize this at the time but everyone went with it and now she’s such a manic character, less angry than Animal but throws herself into the thick of it. We’ve described Jo, who is the leader, as this Hermione Velma mix. For April as being kind of Black Widow-ish. No one character is based of just one other character. We may see a trait and decide to play off that and mix things up like say “This character is sort of acting a bit like Hawkeye, so add this character to be the Black Widow play off.
I’d love to see some action figures, plushes, board games. I love board games, I loved playing the Scooby Doo board game that was based off the live-action movies, didn’t care for the movies but loved that game. Super punch action, bow and arrow firing, canoe paddling action for the action figures.
Do you have a favorite character of the series?
I should not, because I’m like their mother. I mentioned Ripley as being pretty great cause she is the most fun to write. I think I relate the most to Mal, who is this sensitive punk character who thinks she is a lot more hardcore that she really is. Jen is my real favorite and Rosie and April and Jo, but Jen for real.
Not really, I just change the tone of my own voice in my head. Ripley is like a little kid who yells like “I WANT THAT!” Jen is a little more fluttery. I think more about the rhythm and the meter they talk in than the actual voice they actually talk in.
If you could crossover any character from Nimona into Lumberjanes, which one?
Nimona, cause she could be a creature they could fight. She could be anyone of the characters already. It’s a crossover now, just now, figure out which character she is. Going to have to view the comic through UV light and in a mirror to figure it out.
You’re off to save the day, what dinosaur do you ride in on?
Ankylosaurus cause it’s armored and has a tail to smash things with. My second choice would be a triceratops cause it has that shield and spear set right in front of you. I’ve written knights riding dinosaurs into battle for my webcomic, Nimona, and realized that those were the two I love to draw them on.
There you have it folks! I want to thank Noelle Stevenson for talking with me, Boom! Studios for providing the chance and the fine pictures you see from Issues 1 and 2. WonderCon was good fun and we still got more interviews to come with DC next, see you then!
Dr. Alexander Bustos