“Namesake” web comic: a review

What if the fantasy worlds created by authors like L. Frank Baum, Lewis Carroll and others were real worlds? What if your name was “Dorothy” and you found you were suddenly able to travel into the fantasy world of Oz and you entered an adventure story in that world, just like your “namesake?” What if your name wasn’t Dorothy, but you were drawn into and trapped in the world of Oz, and expected to join the adventure as a new “Dorothy?” And what if there were others like you, “namesakes” of famous characters, who also have the ability to travel to these worlds, and who have formed a covert operation to fight a rival organization of other “namesakes?”

This is the fascinating premise of a webcomic called “Namesake“, created by artist Isabelle Melançon and writer Megan Lavey-Heaton. They have created a richly-detailed world of their own, one where certain people have the power to travel to the fantasy worlds created by famous authors through history, including worlds of myth and mystery. A world where special “writers” can change the world around them, and even create new worlds of their own, merely by writing on paper.

The story centers around Emma Crewe, a young woman who can travel to these worlds, even though she doesn’t have the same name as any of the protagonists of the stories of those worlds. She and her younger sister and her friends get caught up in the adventures of not only the fantasy worlds, but also the conflicts between an organization of Namesakes and Writers called “Calliope” and a rival organization called the “Rippers“, made up of Namesakes and Characters from stories. It’s a fascinating premise, and the characters of Emma and the others are realistic and sympathetic, even the “villains” aren’t all moustache-twirling two-dimensional “bad guys”, even if they might have been written that way at one time! One of the most enjoyable parts of reading this story is recognizing who the Namesakes and characters are from the original stories. Like many of the original fantasy stories, there are moments of terror where Emma and her “crewe” encounter horrible, life-threatening dangers from the stories, but unlike the original stories, a Namesake is not guaranteed to survive their adventure, and often unforseen factors enter the adventure.

The ongoing story is broken up into Books, with Intermissions which are side-stories, set in the past or present and involving characters down through the history of Namesakes, starting with Alice Liddel, the “Alice” of “Alice in Wonderland”. These Intermissions are a great way of building on and explaining events and actions by characters in the present, without suffering from the “wall of text” that some visual story creators use to accomplish the same thing. The archive of stories is well worth diving into, and the creators are very disciplined about updating on the schedule they have set for themselves, so the frustration of waiting for the next page is mitigated by knowing that it’s only a couple of days until the new one is published! There are also lots of links to things like artwork, a list of stories referred to in “Namesake”, and a lot of other things worth exploring the site to find.

In all, I very highly recommend this comic, and I hope Ms. Melançon and Ms. Lavey-Heaton are able to give us much more story for years to come!


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