Webcomics are, by their nature, of varying quality. Because anyone can create one, both art and writing tend to cover a wide range of quality. Even if one is well written and well drawn, readers know it can be risky to get invested in it, because whoever is behind the webcomic is usually not being paid and, thus, might quit at any time. This is why I’m immensely thankful for Namesake. Here is a comic that offers updates promptly and has a clever and intriguing plot, amazing characters, and truly astounding art. The fact that it’s taken me this long to review the first volume is tragic.
The story starts in a library where a girl named Emma is getting books for her sister, Elaine, with the guidance of the kindly, wheelchair-bound librarian, Karen Lawson. All seems fine until a girl calling herself 46 comes to steal Karen’s shoes, the Ruby Slippers of the Wicked Witch of the East, and uses her pyrotechnical powers to burn the library down. While running from the fire, Emma is kidnapped by a spectre of some sort and taken to OZ. Apparently, she is the latest Namesake of Dorothy (despite her protestations about that not being her name) and needs to save Oz. But Oz is not as idyllic as it once was. Something has gone wrong and Ozma is missing. In the meantime, Oz is being overgrown by sinister poppies, the Good Witch isn’t as good as she seems, and the current Wicked Witch may not be all that wicked. Not to mention that Wizard in the Emerald City… Meanwhile in the real world, Elaine and her friend Ben are working with Jack (latest Namesake of the Beanstalk story) and Alice (Namesake heir to the Wonderland legacy) to find out how to get Emma back, as well as track down the organization known as the Rippers, who stole the shoes for their own mysterious and ominous plans.
The art in this series is fantastic. It’s mostly in black, white and shades of grey, so anytime you see color it both offers a stunning contrast and immediately highlights something as plot-relevant. Wavy, curly lines help give the land of Oz just the right hint of otherworldliness. In fact, the quantity of wavy lines in a panel is a good barometer of weirdness. The wavier things get, the weirder they are. This book contains some horror elements and general creepiness. There’s nothing too awful, but I’d rate it twelve and up, just to be safe.
Honestly, Namesake is one of the best webcomics I’ve read. Ever. It’s got a deep, clever plot that the author has clearly planned out far in advance. It’s got a unique, interesting art style. It always updates on time and both the artist and the author are responsive to fans, both on the site forums and on their Tumblr accounts. It is a webcomic well deserving of support. This book will make a proud addition to any comic collection.
Namesake, book 1
by Megan Lavey-Heaton
Art by Isabelle Melançon
Fairylogue Press, 2012