It’s a week for welcoming back previous interviewees! Today, I’m catching up with Megan Lavey-Heaton and Isabelle Melancon, creators of the webcomic NAMESAKE. It’s been a while since my last interview with them; we’d meant to do one during their second Kickstarter project, but that sort of fell through. So here they are to talk to us about how that went and what’s upcoming:
ANTHONY: You successfully funded the print version of Namesake Book Two not so long ago. How is the production process coming, and when will the book be available to the general public?
ISA: Production is pretty much over. I re-colored a couple of the pages, polished it up, added an extra story… and then Megan did all the book putting-together part. The toughest part for me is always to design the covers. And I had to design 3 this time. Whew! Since we had the hardcover version coming out with this Kickstarter too. But they turned out great too. The books should be available in August/September if all goes well, but we might open pre-orders before then.
ANTHONY: Are there plans already afoot for collecting book three in print form?
ISA: Book three is almost fully posted online, so as soon as that’s done, plans for the next Kickstarter will probably start.
ANTHONY: What’s your process been like for transferring from web content to the printed page? Did it change at all between books one and two?
ISA: Well, the pages have a pretty standard format, so making the jump from digital to print wasn’t that hard. I perfected my drawing techniques and scanning techniques, and Megan started doing allt he lettering in indesign to make the whole process go more smoothly. Our processes kinda changed about half-way into book one, so book 2 went considerably better.
ANTHONY: Where do we find the characters at the start of book two?
MEG: Emma is still entrenched in Oz at the beginning of book 2. We take a slight detour to check in on Alice and Lewis in the 1800s, then Ben, Elaine, Fred and the Calliope staff in the modern era, along with the introduction of some new cast members who will be very important in the future. For now though, most of this book tells the bulk of Emma’s adventure in Oz.
ISA: And Warrick’s backstory is revealed in book 2. Everyone loves a good tragic backstory.
ANTHONY: How much material will be in the print edition of book two versus the online edition? Any new special extras?
MEG: Book 2 contains Intermission 1 and chapters 6-10. We are about to start chapter 13 in the online edition. We have a book bonus story with Warrick and a Kickstarter-only story with Chiseri and Adora.
ANTHONY: Has your collaborative process changed at all since you started Namesake?
MEG: Not off the top of our head. The machine isn’t broken!
ISA: Nope, if anything, we just have MORE fun. Because the story is gradually becoming more engaging and creative.
ANTHONY: How about your individual creative processes?
MEG: I know for me, I have switched to doing the lettering of the pages in InDesign. Makes it vastly easier when it comes to creating the books!
ISA: I started doing more storyboarding and I have a notebook listing important visual details for all characters… to make sure I don’t forget anything! I plan to make character turnarounds too. It’s more of a process used in animation, but it helps not to draw someone off-model.
ANTHONY: Has the story continued to play out according to your original master plan, or has it taken any interesting side turns?
MEG: It’s definitely taking interesting side turns. For example, Selva has become one of the main cast when originally she wasn’t supposed to have much of a role beyond chapter 1. Nose is another unexpected developed character. We still have the master plan, but we’re letting the different stories develop organically and adjust as needed.
ISA: Characters change a lot, but the main plot stays stable. I think it’s nice that characters are kinda “telling” us who they want to be.
ANTHONY: What other projects are you both working on?
MEG: I’ll let Isa answer that one!
ISA: We have a couple of things we wish to start. I have a few ideas for graphic novels for kids and pre-teens, because it’s an age group I love to write for. Mostly fantasy stuff. Megan has a few ideas that are really exciting too, but she tends to write more for adults, with police mysteries and diabolical curses. I guess we’ll flip a coin and see who gets to choose first. On the short term, we plan to do a couple of short comics to try different things as a team.
ANTHONY: A slight tweak on my usual closing question: If you could only recommend one of the books your characters are based on/connected to, which one would it be?
ISA: Probably a complete book of Andersen’s works. I love his fairy tales. They are my favorites.