Lost In A Good Book: Should You Be Reading ‘Namesake’? [Fantasy Week]
With Should I Be Reading… ?, ComicsAlliance hopes to offer you a guide to some of the best original ongoing comics being published today. This week, we’re focusing on fantasy comics as part of a week of articles looking at the very best in the genre.
Words have power, and so do names. In Namesake, a fairy tale fantasy comic by Megan Lavey-Heaton and Isabelle Melançon, certain names have even more power; they can transport you to other worlds.
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
Emma Crewe, a young woman from Toronto who doesn’t read, or watch TV, or even have the internet at home, discovers she is a Namesake, a person who can magically travel to other worlds based on their name. These worlds are familiar to us through fairy tales, literature, film, and other media, but the worlds are real, in parallel universes.
Namesakes are protagonists in the stories of these worlds, and the rules are pretty strict --- each world gets a particular name. Wendys go to Neverland, while Alices visit Wonderland. Emma, however, winds up in Oz, instead of the expected Dorothy, due to an accident with a librarian, an arsonist, and a pair of red shoes.
Emma has to deal with trouble in Oz, figure out how she got there and what being a Namesake means, and how to get back to her sister.
WHO’S IT BY?
Megan Lavey-Heaton is a writer from Pennsylvania. She’s a journalist, designer, co-editor of the Valor fairy tale comic anthology, and a freelance book designer for Hiveworks, a creator-owned comics publisher and studio.
Isabelle Melançon is a French-Canadian artist currently living in Ottawa. She’s been published in several comics anthologies, including Womanthology, and is co-CEO of Hiveworks.
WHAT MAKES IT SPECIAL?
The level of world building and detail isn’t something you always find in a webcomic; it’s very clear that Lavey-Heaton and Melançon did a ton of planning before starting Namesake. Lots of research too --- Namesake weaves in other stories we know, such as Alice in Wonderland and The Wizard of Oz, in very deft and exciting ways. It’s a comic for big book nerds, and it’s delightful.
Melançon does fantastic work with the art. Her faces are stunningly expressive; when Elaine gets angry you can feel the pre-teen rage. The color work is very smart; when Emma first lands in Oz, everything is black and white except for her purple blouse and the yellow brick road. Back in Toronto, her sister and friend interrogate Jack, who’s sporting a bloody red hand. It’s minimal, but very powerful.
WHO SHOULD READ IT?
Fans of the Thursday Next series of novels. Lovers of fairy tales. Anyone who wished to be whisked away to a magical realm when they were younger.
WHERE CAN I READ IT?
You can read Namesake on its website namesakecomic.com. It updates three times a week on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. The first ten chapters of the comic are available in print form from Fairylogue Press in hardcover or softcover, and ebook versions are included with purchase.