Namesake

While reading Prague Race, I found a mention of Namesake, by Megan Lavey-Heaton and Isabelle Melancon. I wanted to see what the artwork was like for it, so I went to the Namesake archives, and didn’t surface until I was fully up to date 2 days later. The character designs are very uneven, and occasionally I have no idea which one I’m looking at. But, the monsters and some of the backgrounds are really good, and I like the story (usually, when I can follow it.)

The universe of Namesake revolves around the idea that stories record what happens in the magical worlds of other realities around us. Writers document the adventures of the people visiting these worlds, and the Namesakes are people who fit the roles of the lead characters in these adventures. Often, there are entire generations of Dorothies (OZ), Alices (Looking Glass) and Jacks (The Giant Killers) that find themselves teleported into these stories and are not allowed to leave until the tale has been told for the latest revision.

Enter Emma Crewe, originally believed to be a young woman working in a coffee shop, that gets cast as the next Dorothy namesake. Her younger sister is a Writer, and their friend, Ben, turns out to be a “magic world diplomat.” In Oz, Emma befriends Warrick Chopper, the Wicked Warlock of the West, and his sister Selva, the Wicked Witch of the East. When things get sorted out, Emma, Selva and Warrick come to our Earth to join the Calliope organization, where Alice and Jack work to fight against their enemy, the Rippers. The Rippers steal the names of Namesakes on behalf of their leader, One. One of the other members is Emma’s and Emily’s father, #37 (Daniel Crewe). Eventually, we learn that One has the real Emma, and the Emma that we know is a little more complex than she’d been led to believe, and is now identified as a Skeleton Key.

The webcomic updates Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. It first started in 2010, and often includes filler artwork, and announcements of con appearances. As of July 13, we’re just getting into a bit of One’s backstory, finally.

The pages here provide a lot of narrative backdrop, and some examples of my favorite splash pages. The characters are well-developed, but do include some LGBT interactions, if that’s something that you’re not comfortable with. As for me, Namesake was a fast, if confusing read, and I rank it up there with Atomic Robo and Gunnerkrieg Court for imagination and adventure sequences. Recommended if you like retellings of famous story retellings, meta-stories, and historical references to writers like Baum and Carroll.

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