Comic BooksInterviewSDCC '14

SDCC 2014: Interview with Lumberjanes Co-Creator Shannon Watters

Michael Moccio ’16 / Emertainment Monthly Executive Editor

Emertainment Monthly got the opportunity to interview Shannon Watters, an editor at the critically acclaimed BOOM! Studios. In addition to being an editor, she’s also credited as the co-creator of the new, hit series Lumberjanes.

EM: One of the reasons why we love Lumberjanes is because everyone is relatable! Even Jen, the camp counselor, is incredibly so, especially to all those real life camp counselors.

Shannon Watters: Jen is all of us! She’s that over achiever, the one who has the perfect GPA and is really in the space. She’s totally going to be an astronaut some day and she’s just like “What is this? You guys are really messing with my plans!”

So, how do you think the book is going so far?

It has been a whirlwind of positivity. Everybody’s really taking to it. And people who haven’t have been like, “This book’s not for me, but it’s still great.” Which is really cool and really amazing. It’s in no small part to Grace and Noelle.

What’s it been like working with an all-female creator book with an all-female cast? People are pushing for more representation and this has been such a success!

People are hungry for it. It’s less about being a “lady book” and more about everyone identifying with the point of view. And the point of view for this book is more than just a cisgender, straight, white male aged 25 or 35. It’s cool and aspirational. Ladies deserve that point of view being out there and that’s my job. I really try to do that, to give that voice. When you’re an editor, you’re a gatekeeper.

Can you pick a favorite camper?

I can’t! I can’t do it! Everyone loves Ripley. She’s like a puppy, like an overexcited puppy. I love that, too. I love April’s contrast, because all the women in my life are badasses. And I think that’s April’s deal. As a society, we look at anyone with a feminine presentation and we go “Oh, they’re weak,” but April’s the strongest of the group. I see a lot of myself in Jo, like putting your head down and solve a problem without inconveniencing everyone else. Molly is kind of Grace in a way. I see a lot of her story in Holly, as well. I can’t really decide! The fun thing about reading any ensemble book is that everyone can identify with someone.

I have to say April is my favorite. When she shot that scrunchie in the sea monster’s eye—I thought that was the best!

She is the best and continues to be the best!

So, issue #4 just came out and we’ve seen a lot of different fantastical things going on, all these creatures, where do you guys get the ideas for this?

It’s just whatever’s fun. Issue #5 is pretty much a wild ride. There are monsters that appear and don’t appear. We like the hokey monster, I guess. You’re not going to see a zombie or that kind of stuff, but more creature based, campfire-based monsters. It’s whatever happens to be the cool thing that fits. I really enjoy entertainment and a world that doesn’t bend over backwards to tear apart the “why” of it. No one really cares about the rules of the world besides us! We’re just having a good time.

Originally, Lumberjanes was supposed to be a limited series but now it’s ongoing—what does that feel like?

It feels great. I mean, we structured it as a story that could go essentially forever, because the core was this group of friends in this environment. It feels amazing that people have taken to it, because we envisioned it as this “Well, we’re just going to have a good time! And hopefully kids will find it!” The way the market has responded to it is very heartening. I always get choked up when I think about it, because it’s been such a meaningful project to all of us. I’m overwhelmed with gratitude.

What’s been the most challenging thing that you’ve had to overcome as a creative team?

Really, it’s the rhythms of a creative team living in different places. It’s the logistics. Especially, Noelle and Grace have tight schedules. So, that’s been the biggest challenge: scheduling. Getting everyone to the point where we can continue to have that chemistry we have even though we’re all far away from each other.

Who is behind all of the fantastic Lumberjanes patches?

The concepts are by Noelle and Grace, but the designs are from the genius mind of Kate Leth. She writes for ComicsAlliance and writes Greatest Warriors and is an extremely talented human being. She designed some fan art patches for Nightvale and now she designs official merchandise for them. I loved them, so I hired her to do the Lumberjanes badges. She’s the patch girl, now! She did one for Kelly Sue and she’s done a couple others for other people. If you need a patch, she’s the place to go!

One of the biggest successes I’ve seen in the Lumberjanes is the pacing of the book. Even though it isn’t real time, every time someone makes a quip or a funny comment, it feels like the cuts are from a live action television. Why and how do you think they can do that?

Grace, when she was in college, studied screen writing. Noelle went to school essentially for comics and they really work well together. They both bring those strengths to the writing of the book and they’ve each studied it. They think about the pacing and what works and what doesn’t. They’ll go back and forth. I think they both have an extraordinary talent for dialogue, which I think is essential for this book. It feels snappy also because of the drawing. Because of the way it’s presented to you story wise through illustration, it’s snappy!

Is there any interest in bringing Lumberjanes as a cartoon?

We’re very interested, but you’ll have to stay tuned! Who knows—we’ll see?

If you could describe the book in any way, how would you pitch it? I usually say it’s a mix of Buffy and Adventure Time.

We had a lot of interesting elevator pitches. It was like Gravity Falls with a pinch of Buffy the Vampire Slayer mixed with Freaks and Geeks.

What can fans look forward to in the coming issues?

The next issue is nanners! You can look forward to a resolution of this particular mystery and the appearance of a new off and on again member of the Lumberjanes. There’s definitely Ripley riding a dinosaur, so you can look forward to that!

Is there anything else you want readers to know?

Just thank you! I hope that you like it. We got a new book coming out in September called Teen Dog and it’s going to be really fun. If you like Lumberjanes, you’ll probably like Teen Dog! So, hopefully you’ll all enjoy that as well.

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