Interview with Shannon Watters of Lumberjanes
I had the great privilege to interview one of the writers for one of my favorite comic books currently being published Lumberjanes. Lumberjanes, published by Boom! comics, follows a group of young women as they go on various adventures in a scout camp. After a late start due to Shannon Watters getting caught in a tidal wave of people going into the Hall H for panels we were able to get started.
WatchPlayRead: Lumberjanes has had a lot of success did you ever imagine it would get as big as it has?
Watters: No, I mean, I had a feeling that this was a gap in the marketplace. We did it because it was something we really wanted to see done in a particular book but we had no idea it would be crazy as it is. It has taken us all by surprise.
WPR: Yeah, whenever I’m in my comic book store and I see someone with a young girl I tell them “if she has ever been to a scouts camp before take her and get her this comic she will love it.” Did you go to scout camps?
Watters: I did. So I grew up in the woods, I actually grew up in the woods of Northern Arizona and I was a girl scout when I was young.
WPR: I can tell. There are little things there.
Watters: I actually did father-daughter girl scout camp and then we did regular girl scout camp but we would only go for short bursts but it’s such a bomb. It’s like a clubhouse.
WPR: It is.
Watters: You are kind of away from parental figures and running around with your friends.
WPR: This started out as just a mini series, four issues I think?
Watters: Eight issues.
WPR: Yeah, how prepared were you guys to go from a mini series to an ongoing series?
Watters: We had a lot of backstory planned out and a lot of character stuff. So like, story wise we were fairly prepared but I think everybody schedule wise I don’t think we were prepared. I think everybody is still figuring out how to make it work.
WPR: There seems to be a great emphasis on diversity in your book, which is so important, what are your thoughts on how publishers can appeal to a wider audience?
Watters: Hire more marginalized people to tell their stories. That is the number one thing you can do. Hire people of color, hire queer people, and hire gender non normative people and differentably able people and hire people whose life and experiences are outside the “straight, male, CIS gendered, white” comic norm.
WPR: Do you have any advice to people who aren’t part of that norm on breaking into the comic industry because it can be a little intimidating.
Watters: We are very lucky that we have the internet as a publishing medium. You can, now, just do a comic and online and find a readership. Find voices who want to hear your voice so the best thing you can do, as a creator, is get your work out there. To do it, to tell your stories and to put it out there because there is somebody who wants to hear your story. And again, for publishers, be aware; like don’t make excuses for yourself and you’re going to screw up. We all screw up.
WPR: Oh yeah.
Watters: But be aware and learn from your mistakes and continue to be better.
WPR: How did you react to the movie deal?
Watters: I got excited and also worried but mostly excited.
WPR: Are you guys going to be involved with it at all?
WPR: Do you have any mental fan castings of who you would want to play who? In a perfect world where you could pick someone.
Watters: I really want Kate Mulgrove as Rosie but that’s as far as I’ve gotten in my fan cast.
WPR: How many issues do you guys have planned so far?
Watters: We have through about twenty five but we have an over arcing theme, the big bad, for however long the series has to go.
WPR: Going for as long as you can?
Watters: Woo, as long as we can! As long as y’all keep buying it.
WPR: It’s been on my pull list since day one.
Watters: As long as you keep liking what we’re doing we’ll keep doing it.
WPR: How is Boom! to work at as a company?
Watters: I’m a senior editor at Boom!, I’ve been there for almost six years, and I’ve grown with the company and it’s my home. They are lovely.
WPR: Putting out some really interesting stuff.
Watters: Yeah, we are doing our best, every day.
WPR: I have a couple lame questions here like “what character do you identify the most?”
Watters: [laughs] Boy, it’s always a hard one, but that one’s always really hard because they’re all me, in a way. I have the most fun writing April though. Mel and I were talking about this yesterday that April is turning into the most fun to write for because she just a very interesting character.
WPR: That’s about all the questions I have.
Watters: You did it, yay!
We then proceeded to high five because Watters was incredibly understanding considering this was my first real interview. This interview was conducted the night of Friday the 11th and Lumberjanes went on to win two Eisner awards including “best series for teens” and “best new series”. Lumberjanes continues to be one of my favorite things being published to date and despite the fact that the writing staff is changing, which I completely forgot to ask about like the professional I am, I’m greatly looking forward to what Watters, Grace Ellis, and Brook A. Allen will continue to bring to the comic world.