When I was in middle school, I remember reading a comic book series called Lumberjanes. This series was about a group of girls at an all-girls summer camp discovering the often supernatural mysteries of the area. The cast of characters is full of LGBTQ+ individuals and POC, which I had not seen much of up to that point. Reading it back then, I simply enjoyed the story, not thinking critically about some of the choices the author made.
Now, having read The Legend of Auntie Po, it occurs to me how intentionally the setting and title were chosen. Both books take the route of subverting the hypermasculine stereotype of lumberjacks to set the stage for a queer story. It is also worth noting that one of the five main characters is a transgender girl. By placing this story at an all-girls camp, the author immediately shuts down any questions about the validity of her identity. Her presence at the camp confirms that she fits in with all the other girls just fine.
This also leads to an interesting dynamic, as none of the girls are particularly “girly.” They choose to spend their summers at a camp advertised towards “Hardcore Ladytypes,” which is in the actual title of the camp. This means there gets to be a story about a transgender girl who is still allowed to be in touch with the more traditionally “masculine” parts of her identity without it invalidating her girlhood. I did not fully appreciate this kind of representation in middle school, but after reading so much about the intersections of identities in this course, this detail strikes me as remarkably important in literature.
Khor’s point in the Author’s Note about their hopes for publishing in “a vibrant landscape of stories from all kinds of marginalized voices” also guided my thinking here (285). Lumberjanes being published, and the success it found, gave an opportunity for so many queer and POC stories to be told to adolescents. Although the plot of series itself is not centered around being queer or POC, the characters are obviously affected by their identities, bringing casual representation to many more young minds.