A little less than two years ago, something startling and magical began: a webcomic called Namesake. I discovered it very shortly after it started, and it immediately became one of my favorites – shortly thereafter becoming my absolute favorite webcomic, even outracing the formidable competition of Schlock Mercenary (which I will be discussing in another entry) and Girl Genius (ditto). As they recently released, through Kickstarter, a hardcopy of the first volume, Namesake is now truly On My Shelves.
Namesake is the brainchild of Megan Lavey-Heaton and Isabelle Melançon, and has a relatively simple yet brilliant central concept: that all the stories that endure for any time, especially those that are told and retold in various ways, are real. Moreover, that these stories must be retold in one way or another for the sake of the world… of all worlds, and those who play the key parts in those stories are “Namesakes” – beings who can cross between worlds and whose existence influences the fate of everyone in those worlds. Thus, there is always an Alice to go to Wonderland, a Wendy to go to Neverland, a Jack to be the Giant-Killer, a Dorothy to follow the Yellow Brick Road.
Namesake is both beautifully drawn and startlingly well-written. It captured me with the prologue – Charles Dodgson (AKA “Lewis Caroll”) being interrogated over the apparent disappearance of Alice Liddell (the real-life inspiration for Alice in the books), and the later revelation of what had happened to Alice.
I was permanently hooked, however, when the story took us from the modern day to the Land of Oz, with our protagonist Emma (a newly-awakened Namesake), and began to see the depth and detail that Megan and Isabelle had put into their version of Oz, a version that built upon and expanded in a very respectful and loving fashion the original of L. Frank Baum. As those who read my entry on Baum’s work know well, I am very picky about my Oziana, and this work was both refreshingly original and yet, somehow, purely “Ozzy” in a way that few works ever achieve.
The webcomic is also good enough to be appreciated on its own merits. It certainly helps to know all the references, but it’s hardly necessary; what we have is an excellent adventure story, mystery, and – we suspect – romance, which drives itself perfectly well without the need for the referenced works as anything other than details.
Namesake comes out on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. And the wait always seems to be more like a week between comics.
And the wait is always worth it.