Webcomic Wednesday: Namesake

A twisted tale is a form of literature where old myths, legends, folk and fairy tales, and other stories are rewritten with new formats and plots.  In the case of Namesake, the story stays the same, but the characters are the ones who change.

Emma Crewe was just fine with living an ordinary, boring life in Canada.  Until due to a library fire, she accidentally opens a portal and ends up in Oz.  The Ozites are happy to greet the new Dorothy, except for one problem:  Emma is an Emma, not a Dorothy.  But within Oz, all is not well, as Princess Ozma, the ruler, has gone missing, leaving Emma stuck.  Outside of Oz, Elaine (Emma’s sister) and Ben (Emma’s friend) are trying to find her, but run into Calliope and the Rippers.  Calliope is an organization helping Namesakes, those who have the power to travel within stories.  The Rippers however are Namesakes who have renounced their names in pursuit of a different goal.  If Elaine and Ben want Emma returned, they’ll need to work with Calliope and defeat the Rippers.  Meanwhile, Emma is finding out the Oz in the film is very different from the Oz in the story books and more dangerous as well.

Emma falling through the portal to Oz

Going on seven years now, Namesake is an action-adventure-fantasy comic about two sisters trying to survive literature.  Unlike other twisted tales of The Wizard of Oz, where the first book and its film interpretation is the main sources,  the authors  Megan Lavey-Heaton and Isabelle Melançon draw on the entire series written by L. Frank Baum, concentrating on the first six books.  A second plot-line is the relationship between Alice Liddel (the basis for Alice in Alice in Wonderland) and Charles Dodgson (Lewis Carroll), two past members of Calliope, creating a historical-fiction element about the mysterious break between Dodgson and the Liddels.  Lavey-Heaton also delves into obscure fairy tales, such as Hans Christian Andersen’s The Red Shoes.  Also similar to the old tales, she doesn’t shy away from disturbing scenes, such as when a character is killed, and then her body immolated.  Like real fairy tales, Namesake has dark twists and turns to it and discards the saccharine.

Emma meeting the Good Witch of the North

The illustrations are done by Melançon, whose work is influenced by “American and Japanese animation, as well as older Victorian and French illustration” and shows through in the comic.  The settings for Canada and Oz are similar to book illustrations and color plates from the Edwardian and Victorian eras.  The characters are a mixture of styles; classic characters, such as the Scarecrow of Oz, are similar to their original designs, while new characters, such as Chiseri (a flying gumdrop), are reminiscent to modern cartoon creations.  The mix of styles blends well, creating a rich background with a varied group of people.  The art is mostly black and white, with color here and there, sometimes in the background, sometimes on a character, an artistic touch that is delightful for reading.

An example of Melançon’s color scheme

A fantasy comic about fairy tales and dark magic, Namesake is the perfect comic for fans of classical literature and folk tales.  You can read the adventures of Emma in Oz at Namesakecomic.com.

SJ Pendergraft

SJ Pendergraft is a writer who enjoys webcomics, so she decided to combine the two and became a webcomic reviewer.

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