The big reveal for Jo’s surprise birthday party is drawing near and April is starting to feel the stress as more and more obstacles pop up. Everything has to be perfect for her best friend’s special day so she’s freaking out a little. Meanwhile, Jo is off having an adventure on the seemingly ocean-sized lake with no intention of coming back any time soon as she wants nothing to do with this party. This is a bit of a conundrum.
Jo is such a core member of the Lumberjanes crew and she does so much for everyone that her friends are quick to come together if it means celebrating her. They all got swept up in April’s plans without thinking about what Jo might want. These are some exciting and elaborate ideas that are sure to make a splash. It’s just that it’s probably not going to go the way April intended.
Up until this point, we saw this from April’s perspective and how she wants to do something for her friend on her birthday. Lumberjanes #59 gives us Jo’s point of view, which points out that April’s plans are rather selfish. Yes, these complicated ideas are technically for Jo’s birthday, but it’s done because that’s what April wants to do.
Jo lets all this out in a moment of anguish. Artist AnneMarie Rogers captures the build up to this as you see the frustration piling up behind Jo’s eyes before she finally lets loose. She’s literally sweating as she lets it all out, like this is something she’s held in for years. We rarely see Jo (or anyone in this comic really) in any sort of anger. This gives us a glimpse of that emotion and it’s totally ok to feel that way.
Letterer Aubrey Aiese adds to this scene with a bigger font for the initial blow up and then capitalized words for some accentuation. It helps emphasize Jo’s feelings and all the frustration she’s going through. You can tell this is something she’s thought of for a long time.
Contrast this with April’s ever-evolving birthday party shenanigans where colorist Maarta Laiho creates a vibrant palette. This is an area of the camp where anything can happen. Granted, that can hold true for most places nearby, but when April is involved, it’s especially true. She has a gung ho determination to see this through one way or another. She practically sparkles as she takes charge and refuses to let any of the many obstacles get her down.
Lumberjanes continues to highlight the power of friendship and this issue takes us on the ups and downs that come with it. Friends fight sometimes. They don’t have to agree on everything. While Jo hasn’t shared her feelings with April just yet, it’s bound to happen soon. It’s going to be an eye-opening experience for everyone involved and some feelings might get hurt, however it will only strengthen their friendship. Writers Shannon Watters & Kat Leyh continue to craft something really special with Lumberjanes. There’s a message here but you’re not hit over the head with it. Instead, it comes through organically and in a way that just makes sense. It makes this such a natural and enjoyable read.