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Webcomic / Namesake

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Going down the rabbit hole and beyond.

Oz? Like Australia? Wait... the road is yellow. Oh HELL no.
Emma Crewe, Chapter 2

Namesake fantasy webcomic by Megan Lavey-Heaton and Isabelle Melançon, published by Hiveworks (of which Melançon was a founder).

Emma Crewe discovers she can visit other worlds, which are places she already knows – fantasy and fairy lands made famous through the spoken word, literature and cinema. Her power as a Namesake forces her to act as a protagonist in these familiar stories as she figures out how to get home.

But as she travels, she discovers that those controlling her story have their own selfish goals in mind – and her fate is the key to everyone’s happy ending.

The comic is chock full of fairy tale references ranging from the obvious to the obscure. Now has a Character Sheet.

Namesake provides examples of:

  • Abuse Mistake: A justified one, on the part of both Emma and the (very concerned) concierge she spoke with after Emma woke up in a hotel she didn't recognize with ripped clothing, a note thanking her for a fun night, and no memory of how she got there.
  • Adaptation Expansion: Oh so much. Namesake was based on an unfinished series of comics (called the "Oziad") posted on the artist's live journal. The Oziad was a parody of The Wizard of Oz, featuring main characters who were dopplegangers of the author, her friends, and the main characters of Slayers. In Namesake, the Oz story is now one part of a journey through a much larger fairytale multiverse; the cast and scope of the story are greatly expanded, original characters have replaced those based on real people and copyrighted characters, and the tone of the story is more serious and far less parodic.
  • The Ageless: It's explained that this is the case for Ozites, but since Dorothies are not born in Oz they will remain externally young but retain a natural human lifespan. At the time of the original Dorothy's death she still appeared young despite actually being very old woman. This seems to be the case for people who allow the Shadow to possess them, such as Ina Liddell and One.
  • Alice Allusion: Wonderland exists in the story, and Alice Liddell and Alice Purcell have been there. They have vorpal swords that go snicker-snack, and Purcell is part Cheshire Cat.
  • Amazing Technicolor Population: Adora had green and purple skin, and her children Warrick and Adora respectively have green and purple skin.
  • Ambiguously Brown: Emma and Elaine are drawn in a darker shade then the Caucasian characters, and Word of God is that Emma's appearance is in part inspired by Michelle Rodriguez. Eventually it's stated that they are Latina and French (Having a Puerto Rican mother and a French Canadian father).
  • Ambiguously Evil: It’s up in the air what's motivating the “ghost”, but so far it’s been painted in a fairly ominous and at times even sinister light.
  • And I Must Scream:
    • Selva, The Wicked Witch of the East, turned the Munchkin King into a hat box, and Selva herself is turned into a purse. Later subverted when Warrick says she's only still a purse because she wants to be and is just sulking. She changes back once he apologizes.
    • Subverted with Hercilia, the former Wicked Witch of the East. Selva turning her into a pair of magic shoes doesn't stop her from keeping up a running commentary as the action unfolds.
  • Anyone Can Die: Boy, that character didn't even last the first chapter.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Almost word for word.
    " murderer! Arsonist! Book Defiler!"
  • Art Evolution: Pointed out frequently by the artist herself. As is the case with most webcomics, the art is always evolving for the better.
  • Author Appeal: The artist's blog and past works reveal a strong interest in literature, fairy tale adaptations, creepy monsters, adorable magical children and strong female leads with large noses.
  • Badass Adorable: Fred. One moment he's excited about how stretchy grilled cheese is, the next he's yelling at Ben and Elaine to escape as he fights off the ghost single-handedly.
  • Body Horror: All the pretty red flowers you see in people's hair...yeah, they're actually growing out of their heads.
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: If Anlise wasn't before, she certainly is now.
  • Cats Have Nine Lives: Cheshire Cats do. When three of them found a dying Alice P. on the forest floor of Wonderland, they each gave her one of their lives, letting her live again.
  • Cheshire Cat Grin: Alice, being part cat, can do this, both on purpose or accidentally.
  • Compelling Voice: Writers and those who steal / borrow their powers can do this.
  • Curse Cut Short: After being restrained by a card soldier, Ben is none-too-happy with an apologetic Jack. Also, Alice when she's locked into the djinn's bottle by Nose.
    Alice: You SONOFA BIIII...
  • Death Glare: Ben and Elaine are more than capable of pulling this off.
  • Dimensional Traveler: Namesakes, who leave their dimension to go to a fantasy one. Alice P. has kept her powers and can still open up portals.
  • Direct Line to the Author: This comic uses the idea that some people travel to parallel worlds and famous real-world authors are just writing the stories of those travelers.
  • Distant Prologue: Namesake starts off with the Reverend Charles Dodgson and Alice Liddell on June 27, 1863.
  • Down the Rabbit Hole: The main caption of the comic. The portals to other worlds also look a lot like rabbit holes, and it's being sucked into one of these that starts Emma's adventure.
  • Dramatic Irony: Any scene where Warrick talks about his sister while holding Emma's purse is this, since Selva is the purse. Subverted in that he already knew.
  • Mr. Fanservice: Jack and Warrick, each a Pretty Boy, appear shirtless at least twice in the comic.
  • Eldritch Abomination : The “ghost” that was haunting Emma has flavors of this when the reader finally sees it up close.
  • The Everyman : The main character, Emma, is a milder version of this. She's a quiet introvert who gets thrust into a situation that gets her in way over her head. Later subverted when she turns out to have been anything but that from early childhood on.
  • Exposition Dump: Chapter 24 finally explains what's going on and why, both regarding the Earth and on the cosmic scale. Chapter 29 has some of this too, with Emma Ramos and vorpal smith. Chapter 20's relationship chart is also quite handy.
  • Eye Scream: This page features a character with empty eye sockets.
    • The unfortunate fate of Emma and Elaine's father, Daniel.
  • Fairy Tale: Fairytale references are basically the framework on which the whole plot is built.
  • Feminist Fantasy: Appears to be heading this way, which makes sense given Oz itself was an early example of such. Makes sense since Baum was married to a Suffragette and let the Suffragettes serve as inspiration for the character of Jinjur.
  • For the Lulz: The fourth Emma is said to have let vampires bite her because it'd be funny. Somewhat less funny for the vampire, who'd get a mouth full of story instead of blood. Ink and vorpal are probably less nourishing than plasma.
  • Fractured Fairy Tale: The tales featured in the comic don't always conform to their storybook versions.
  • Genre Savvy: Emma knows she's in Oz just from seeing the yellow brick road, though the creators have stated that the movie is the only source of knowledge she has. Justified later when Emma is shown to be an Artificial Person created by stuffing a changeling with literature. So she's practically made of Genre Savvy.
  • Gilligan Cut
    Emma: You can't force us to obey you.
    [Cut to Emma and company tied to a tree]
    Emma: ...
    Hercilia: Great plan, Dorothy.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: Oh, blood and gore are just fine, don't worry about the stab wounds and arrows poking through bone, but when Emma eats a shadow, the panel cuts away to the horrified reactions of everyone around her.
  • Grimmification: The stories seem to go from fractured, to re-told, to canon, to darker... It's very cut-and-paste. And awesome that way.
  • Healing Hands: In a rare male example, Warrick is capable of healing Emma and restores most of Anlise's brain. It seems he can also heal scars.
  • Heroes Prefer Swords: Alices have their vorpal swords, and Emma gets a pretty cool sword too.
  • Historical Domain Character: The Calliope flashbacks future the likes of Lewis Carroll, Alice Liddell, L. Frank Baum, and some more, which also doubles as a little Beethoven Was an Alien Spy.
  • Hope Is Scary: Vanessa/Bird starts sobbing on this page when Banshee tries to give her a third option.
    Bird Stop that healing... bullshit! I'm just... I'm done with all this. You can't give me hope again. *sobs* You're as cruel as Nose.
  • Humanity Ensues: Fred undergoes a very gradual form under Elaines influence, which proves she has writer powers.
  • I Know Your True Name: Considering the name of this webcomic is "Namesake" and a character seems to have sold her name, this is only bound to be more fitting as the story progresses.
    • This also proves to be important with Renge, formerly Jellia Jamb, who gave her name to Ozma for an as-of-yet unspecified reason, and the name change essentially had the effect of Retgone-ing people's memories of Jellia, as well as resulting in an apparent personality change for Renge.
    • Also turns out to be very important for Nose, as One reveals he has given Nose the name Rumpelstiltskin, which grants One power over him.
    • Emma finding herself in Oz as a "Dorothy" despite not being actually named Dorothy turns out to significant.
    • This is One's modus operandi for taking control over people in general: step one, steal their name, and then, when they're in a state of absolute shock, offer them a new one under his control as a Writer. Many of the Rippers prefer to go by their numbers or handles instead, because of this. He nearly gets away with this with Emma, which for various different reasons wouldn't have gone well for anyone.
  • Insane Troll Logic: Selva lampshades the trope after explaining that her plan to save everyone from the poppies was to turn everybody into objects. In her own words, "It made sense at the time."
  • In the Blood: It's been heavily implied that both Namesake and Writer powers are at least partially hereditary, best exemplified by the Crewes, since Emma and Elaine and their mother and father are respectively Namesakes and Writers.
    • Banshee is related to One, and mentions this trope by name when Bird says she's just as bad as him.
  • Immortal Procreation Clause: Word of God is that this affects Ozites, and while not sterile per se there's not the same need to have them since people don't age unless they want to. The Tin Man and his wife were considered strange for wanting children.
  • Killed Off for Real: Scarecrow, something Emma is particularly upset about since as she points out, he's technically not even alive.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: Nose does this to Emma, making her completely forget about Oz.
  • Lawful Neutral / True Neutral: Adora became the first and only Neutral Witch of the West, after her heart was both literally and figuratively broken. invoked
  • Legacy Character: "The Dorothy" and every other Namesake fits the bill as well.
  • Light Is Not Good: Hinted at first with Anlise, the Witch of the North. There's a good reason for her initial suspicious behavior, and she does genuinely care about the welfare of Oz.
  • Loose Canon: The creators have stated that their Oz only follows that of Baum's first six books. Anything seventh book and onwards is basically cut-and-paste/mix-and-match. For example, the Tin Man and Nimmee Ammee got married in Namesake. There is a In-Universe reason for this: Baum wrote past Dorothy's adventures, causing the fight between Calliope and the Writer's Guild.
  • Magical Land: The main character is expected to go to many famous magical lands, starting with OZ.
  • MacGuffin Girl: Emma learns to her horror that she's an Artificial Human created to serve as a "skeleton key" capable of opening all of the various Namesakes' doors between worlds.
  • Meaningful Name: Not surprising, given the comic's title. Several main characters share the same name as well-known fairy tale protagonists and fill the same roles.
    • Subverted with Hercilia: her name means "Tender; delicate." She is anything but, so it's probably meant to be ironic.
    • Warrick is derived from Warwick, which means "dam" or "weir". Considering the type of powers he has (to heal, so to stop pain and bloodflow), it works.
    • Also interesting to note that the last names seem to have meanings. In the case of the Chopper twins : they got their family name from their grandfather (who was the Tin Man, and as such, a lumberjack). The last name still applies to the Twin's respective functions, since Warrick is a healer (a form of magical doctor and/or surgeon) and Selva is a seamstress.
    • Emma means "whole" or "universal" which, given her apparent status as a "Skeleton Key" who can move between all linked worlds, certainly fits The creators picked the name on purpose.
  • Mind Control: The poppies do this.
  • Missing Mom: There's no sign of Emma and Elaine's mother in the present day, though there's a photo of Emma holding a baby Elaine along with Ben's comment that Emma has always been very serious. On this page we get a memory of young Emma yelling for her mother. In the next we see a family portrait including her mother in the background, and when her father brings her up to Emma she starts to refer to her as a "bitch", but gets cut off before she can finish. And it's been confirmed that her mother was a Namesake too, and she is a vorpalsmith.
  • Monochrome Past: Played with. Although the Distant Prologue was introduced in color, the intermissions continuing the story are rendered in gray and gray-browns, with pops of red. Even when pictured with other characters in colored art, Charles Dodgson and Alice Liddell remain in black and white.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Surely a group of people called "The Rippers" can't be up to any good, but they still insist they're the real good guys, probably because they are all either psychopathic enough to expect you to believe it or sociopathic enough not to care.
  • One-Steve Limit: Very averted.
    • We have main character Emma Crewe, the real Emma (SB Emma), Ghost Emma, and her mother, Emma Ramos. Emma Ramos even says all vorpalsmiths take the name Emma, implying she named her daughter such with the purpose to make her a vorpal smith once. Auntie Em later tells the heros about her twin Sister, who was also named Emma. The two of them were vorpalsmith trainees
    • By the nature of this comic's premise (people with certain names go to relative worlds) this must be averted. For example, there's Alice Liddell from the past (the one Lewis Carroll wrote about) and the current Alice Purcell.)
    • Past Dorothies are mentioned many times in Oz, to point there land has a set of procedures in place whenenver a new one shows up.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: The Rippers, each of whom has some short nickname that's more or less related to who they used to be before they became Rippers, such as Bird, Fish, Mountain etc. It's either that or their numbers.
  • Only Six Faces: Somewhat averted. The cast is very diverse in both body types, hair styles and faces, especially when it comes to noses. But there are complaints that some characters still look the same regardless and this can be especially problematic during action moments. And when the Emmas split in half.
  • The Ophelia: As of the book 2 intermission, Alice's family believes that she's this, and she herself doesn't even realize that she's jumped into the pond.
  • Original Generation: Besides canon Oz characters there is also Adora, Selva and Warrick, who are new additions to the cast.
  • Our Ghosts Are Different: The weird female figure that seems to be following Emma through Oz is referred to in story as a ghost, but so far it's unclear exactly what it is, though it's briefly implied to be Dorothy, as in the original.
  • Reality Warper: Elaine can do this, as a "Writer". It's hinted that Alice could do a different sort of something similar to reality-altering, though not under her control.
  • Red Right Hand: Jack has a literal red right hand. The trope is averted as he is not evil in any way.
    • Recently revealed to have been caused by giant's blood being splashed onto it during his journey. It gives him minor telekinesis.
  • Regent for Life: It's implied Renge is trying to pull off something like this, given the reveal that she's the one who's been keeping Ozma asleep. There's also one point where another character refers to the Emerald City as "Ozma's city" while Renge calls it "my city."
  • Sealed Inside a Person-Shaped Can: Both Renge and the Scarecrow have apparently held the "Hole in the World" in their own bodies.
  • She Is the King: Even though she's a woman, Renge's official title is still The Wizard of Oz, but another character does refer to her as a "Witch", suggesting a Type II, but it's also implied that the "Wizard" title refers to her being the successor of the original, who was a man, rather than her gender, making it a Type III. The title is later passed on to Agha.
  • Ship Tease: There's been some slight moments between Emma/Warrick, and Elaine/Fred, but the 2015 Valentine's day cards plays it up more, and teases a pairing that has hardly interacted with each other yet, Alice/Selva. Later strips confirm that Selva has a big crush on Alice.
  • Shout-Out: In the Christmas strip.
  • Skeleton Key: Emma is a living embodiment of one, being able to visit any world.
  • Splash of Color: Because the artist does not have time to make the comic fully in color, she limits colors to significant scenes/element, like red for the poppies in Oz. Word of God has stated that it started off as a time-saving technique, but the creator team liked the effect so much, it became more of a style past chapter 4.
  • Statuesque Stunner: Penta, who is a head taller than her husband, Jack.
  • Superpower Lottery: Emma won the jackpot. Emma is not only a Namesake, she's a Skeleton Key, has latent Writer powers, may also have Muse powers, and is potentially a vorpal smith.
  • Thinking Up Portals: Though Namesakes can open portals, most of them actually don't have this power, having lost it after completing their mission. Alice Purcell does still have portal powers, and uses them often (even to get a cup of coffee). Being a Skeleton Key, Emma has this power too.
  • Time Travel: The vorpal blacksmiths can do that, travelling through various worlds and timelines to take and fulfill commissions. We even get to see Emma Ramos on the job.
    • Tom Thumb strongly implies he met a time-travelling Emma Crewe who sent him to deliver a message for her.
  • Traumatic Superpower Awakening: Portals can be opened by triggering events. For Emma, it was the library fire, for Jack, it was getting shot.
  • True Companions: "Team Bulldozer", and by extension their new friends, the Crewe sisters, the Ozite twins, and Ben.
  • Twice Shy: Warrick and Emma both have feelings for each other that are painfully obvious to everyone else, but think that the respective other doesn't want a relationship with them (Emma because she thinks Warrick is still in love with Ozma, Warrick because he's kind of an undead and thinks Emma doesn't want to be with someone llike that).
  • Twice-Told Tale: That's how Namesake stories work; the heroes, though different people, are always of the same name and go through variations of the same story. This also turns out to be an extreme problem; because the Muses are gone, the stories aren't processed anymore, hence the same story gets repated over and over ad nauseam instead of getting reworked into new stories, until they run out of energy and their worlds cease to exist. If not helped, this will lead to the end of the universe.
  • Twin Telepathy: Warrick and Selva seem to have a degree of this, since Warrick losing his heart affected Selva enough to lead to the Insane Troll Logic above.
  • Ultimate Blacksmith: Vorpalsmiths, who work with the very valuable metal. Emma Ramos is the current one.
  • The Unintelligible: Fred, before Elaine fixes this.
  • Unreliable Narrator: The creators have stated that just because a character is telling their backstory doesn't necessarily mean everything about it is true.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Renge turns out to be this, having done everything apparently under Ozma's orders to control "The hole in the world", including taking it into her own body.
  • Wham Line:
    • "You can change things. You are a writer, Elaine." spoken by Fred, formerly the Unintelligible
    • "Do you seriously think One would take any risks with his creation? You'd do well to remember who your daughter is. It's not that thing in the other room."
    • "Without those stories, you're nothing but a ghost. My ghost. The ghost of Emma Crewe. The one they call 'Sleeping Beauty'."
    • "We must discuss one last thing. Your mother, Emma Ramos."
    • "Banshee... you... you're not a Ripper anymore?" "Never was."
    • "You're still here because of a gift. A sleeping heart."
  • Wham Shot: The last page of book 2, which shows that something is VERY wrong with the Scarecrow.
    • This page, where the person Emma thinks is Selva is revealed to be Adora, Warrick and Selva's dead mother.
  • Wholesome Crossdresser: To save the princesses from Thunderdell, Jack dons a dress to appear as a princess.
  • Wicked Witch: Considering this is a fairy tale theme comic, this is only natural. Although the Wicked Witch of the East can be argued to be a Hot Witch. The Warlock of the West could count as a male example of both as well.
  • World of Badass: Every person who appears in this comic is either a Namesake who fought their way through dangerous adventures, a Writer with the power to change reality, magically gifted to cast spells or shields, or just kicks ass in a battle.
  • You Are Number 6: The Rippers, having given away their names, have titles like One, 2, 55, 46, and 37.
  • You Can't Go Home Again: Once Emma and Elaine got tangled up in the events around Namesakes and Rippers, it becomes clear that they can't simply return to their old lives; instead they move to England to join Calliope.
  • You're Insane!: Selva to Warrick after he removes his heart and talks about how great it is.
    Selva: "Sweet Oz...You're mad!"
  • Yuri Genre: Anlise and Renge, which was heavily implied before but confirmed by Word of God, which also states that the relationship already existed pre poppy infection and the ramifications will be brought up in-story. Alice Purcell is also Straight Gay and Selva (who is bisexual) quite strongly voices a crush on her, and they eventually get together. Alice was also in a relationship with Bird in the past (who is also bi).