You want a live-action female-led comic book adaptation? 20th Century Fox could have just the thing. While it is certainly no Black Widow, Lumberjanes is a title with a fast-growing, dedicated and loyal fanbase, and it is now headed to a big screen near you – courtesy of Kira Goldberg and Emma Watts, who kickstarted the project at Fox, while producers Ryan Jones, Ross Richie, Stephen Christy and Adam Yoelin are also on board for the studio.
First published in 2014 by BOOM! Studios, Lumberjanes was intended to be an eight issue limited series, but was upgraded to an ongoing endeavour by the time the second issue was released. The story follows five friends – Jo, Molly, Mal, April and Ripley – who all attend Miss Quinzella Thiskwin Penniquiqul Thistle Crumpet’s Camp for Hardcore Lady Types, and board together in Roanoke Cabin. During their time at the camp, these attendees – known as Lumberjane Scouts – deal with a wide variety of supernatural creatures and phenomena.
The series was created by BOOM! Studios editor Shannon Watters, writers Noelle Stevenson and Grace Ellis, and artist Brooke A. Allen, with the specific intention of addressing the lack of female-led comic book titles available. Speaking to ICv2 at New York Comic Con in 2014, after the launch of Lumberjanes, Shannon Watters explained the implications of the success of the book.
“It surprised me how readily the mainstream comic book community took to Lumberjanes. It’s selling great at direct market retail stores. Retailers have been super-duper supportive, which just goes to show comics starring women are not a sales killer. This is bringing new people into shops.”
It would seem that 20th Century Fox is hoping that cinema audiences will be just as welcoming to Lumberjanes – although the studio’s approach is so far giving cause for concern. In addition to male producers being assigned to shepherd the project, Fox has reportedly hired commercially untested writer Will Widger to write the adaptation. Widger has previously seen his work make it on to the Black List, but it remains unproduced.
The fact that Fox would assign an inexperienced male writer to Lumberjanes when there are countless talented and experienced female writers to be found is frustrating, but it is rumoured that a female director is being sought, at least. Once the script and director are in place, we can look forward to the casting of the five leads – a process that could well produce a fantastic female ensemble.