Friday, April 10, 2015

What's in a Namesake

In last week's reviews I made a lot of references to past comics, and in fact each of them reminded me of at least one other piece of fiction I've seen, read or, well I'll get to this last one.  This isn't uncommon really, especially as I've been reading a lot of comics and consciously or not, I tend to make comparisons.

Namesake, however, activated multiple comparisons.  Not just one or two, but a four of them, all at the same time.  I won't claim it's a record, but I couldn't help but make the comparisons quickly and early.  I should note none of these are BAD comparisons, in fact they made me like the comic all the more.

The first comic I started comparing it too was based solely on the art, and that was an odd reminder of Demonology 101, and the rest of Faith Erin Hicks' work.  Oh, it's different, and cleaner than some of those older strips (Demonology 101 started in 1999, 16 years old at this point), but I think it was the noses that led the comparison.  I don't know why, but those roundish noses were amongst the first things I noticed artistically.  I wonder if it's a Canadian thing as both artists are from there.  That's just a surface comparison though, so don't read much into it.

Do read a bit more into No Rest for the Wicked though as it's a damn good comic.  Namesake reminded me of this by doing much the same thing, bringing out the actual stories of the works being referenced.  Often the "Disneyfied" versions of fairy tales and stories gets remembered because it's easy but they aren't exactly accurate.  Both comics go out of their way to remind the reader that those fairy tales are, in fact, far meaner, crueler and bloodier than anything Disney has ever presented.  Namesake directly reminds readers of this by comparing the ACTUAL Wizard of Oz vs the movie we all know too damn well.

Which brings me to the next leg of my comparisons, and that is to Perchance to Dream, a comic I haven't talked about in a long, LONG time.  The reason is the forward direction.  While Oz and Wonderland are both talked about at length in Namesake, the original stories are spoke of in the past tense.  Yes they happened, but they happened in the past.  Oz and Wonderland have moved on from there.  The worlds aren't static.  Perchance to Dream had the same thing, though this was a world where things were static and only became free after the start of the comic.  Then things went to hell, but that's for another day.  I like moving the fantasy world forward, it makes it less just a story and more a world, and Namesake does this in spades.

But the biggest comparison I can make, especially with the archive dive complete, is not to a comic at all but to a game:  The Longest Journey (Let's Play linked).  The comparisons are actually pretty deep here.  A young girl (Emma isn't quite as young as April, but they're close) discovers she has the ability to visit another, fantastic world, only to be embroiled in a conflict between two opposing factions, with a role in the conflict greater than she ever initially imagined or is told.  It's not a point for point comparison of course, but they are amazingly similar, and I wouldn't be surprised if the writer was partially inspired by the game.

Being inspired is not the same as ripping off, because Namesake is it's own story.  The twists and turns are very different, the overall plot is different, but the journey, well, that's really similar.  I suppose that's more the standard heroes journey type thing, so it can't be faulted there.  Still, I love the Longest Journey and being able to find a comic that does something very similar, without being the same, is a wonderful thrill and probably increased my enjoyment of the comic far more than it otherwise would have been.  This is why I don't find any of these comparisons to be bad, because I enjoyed each of the other works and this is more of what I like.  Honestly all this means is that I'll be reading Namesake for as long as it updates.

Next week kiddies, I think I need to do another retrospective.  Until then.

BTW, spring did come last Friday, then it snowed Saturday and Sunday.  Freaking weather.

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