While you’re sequestered indoors, why not dream of summer? And summer camp for the teens! Ah, that’s the Spirit! Camp Spirit, that is.

Camp Spirit, an original graphic novel from Top Shelf/IDW, is all about the outdoors, of course. In the province of Quebec, Canada. Where city kids go to get close to nature, and older kids go to work in perhaps their first summer job: camp counselor.

Camp Spirit’s main character, Elodie, has been shoehorned into working at a summer camp. Elodie starts off hating the camp, the kids and the other counselors. But little by little, she is perhaps enchanted or charmed by aspects of camp life. The kids, rude, pushy and silly, rally around her. Another counselor starts to befriend her. But what about those creepy dreams, and the creepy woods at night, and the creepo camp Chief? Is it Elodie’s imagination, or is the Chief hitting on her, haunting her and half-mad?

This book owes its shape and sustenance to Axelle Lenoir (Si on était, Le Domaine Grisloire, etc) who writes and draws this 212-page graphic novel. “Cab” (UTown) contributes exceptional colouring to this exceptional tale. Cab’s full spectrum colour adds exuberance to scenes, hushes down the tone of deep night, punks up the parties.

Lenoir’s take on caricature, gesture, pantomime and story pacing combine to produce a thrilling adventure. Camp Spirit is so well-paced, the most moving and emotional scenes are nicely tempered with moments of hilarity and exaggeration. Kids swinging from ropes and swearing, taking pure delight in twisting words and meanings. The drawings are achingly beautiful and poetic. The trees are drawn full, the kids are drawn hyperactive, the teens are drawn coming-of-age-moody and awkward.

Originally produced in French language, Camp Spirit is seamlessly translated for this edition by Pablo Strauss and Aleshia Jensen.

It’s ribald, it’s refreshing. Camp Spirit will entertain a teen audience, certainly, but also extends its narrative tendrils in the direction of adults too… there is a lot here to enjoy!

IDW Top Shelf, Camp Spirit graphic novel, $19.99 for 212 pages. Teen Available at Comic and Book Retailers or from Top Shelf and Penguin Random House

@Axellelenoirbd @cabtastic

By Alan Spinney

After a career of graphic design, art direction and copywriting, I still have a passion for words and pictures. I love it when a comic book comes together; the story is tight, and the drawings lead me forward. Art with words... the toughest storytelling technique to get right. Was this comic book worth your money? Let's see!!