The Namesake Book 3 Kickstarter is LIVE and advancing nicely! Be sure to check it out if you have not already : https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1987386669/namesake-volume-3
I’m kinda bummed Namesake is so serious because I could write a million jokes about Emma and Warrick adapting to each other’s world.
This is the first of two pieces regarding Calliope and its Liverpool setting.
In the second Intermission, Lewis Carroll brings Alice Liddell to the first location we see for Calliope: a Victorian building that we plucked out of time to use as a location. Initially, this was also going to be the setting for modern Calliope, but it turned out not to be practical, as modern Calliope has turned out to be a far more complex entity than originally planned.
When determining locations in Namesake, we didn't want to rely on the old defaults: New York, Los Angeles, London, Tokyo, etc. Settings and character origins have a lot of personal meaning for us. Emma and Elaine live in Toronto, because that is where Isa first began really developing Namesake both solo and as part of a team with Meg. Emma and Elaine are originally from Quebec, where Isa is from. Jack Wright is from Harrisburg, which is where Meg moved to shortly before the series began.
While the development of Namesake was going on, Meg's husband still lived in Liverpool, England. One day, he began telling her about an abandoned library that was just a few blocks from his home: a century-old Andrew Carnegie institution.
Andrew Carnegie was a Scottish-born millionaire who made his fortune in the United States. He sold his steel empire in 1901 for $480 million. At the time, he was the richest man in the world, and he vowed to give away as much as he could before he died. As part of Carnegie's philanthropy, he put up funding that built nearly 1,700 libraries in the United States and 660 libraries in the United Kingdom. These libraries were remarkable in part because not only were they beautiful buildings, but they were facilities that women and minorities could use. In places where integrated libraries weren't allowed, Carnegie funded libraries for minorities. The stipulation was that while Carnegie put up the funds to build the libraries, the communities had to provide the books, staff, and maintenance.
One of these libraries was the Lister Drive Library in Liverpool. Also known as the West Darby Carnegie library, it was built in 1905. It is a Grade II building in the UK, which means it has national importance. The library would remain open for the next century.
In 2006, the library was immediately shuttered when a staff member was injured on the premises. This came after a period of underfunding . Time literally froze for the library at that point. Books were left on the shelves, things abandoned as if people simply got up and walked away. When Namesake originally started, the future of the building was in debate. It badly needed repairing, with parts of the structure rotting away.
In 2011, Meg visited the abandoned library. There's a huge wall around the library, but she managed to find a section of it that had crumbled away and ventured onto the grounds. Trespassing in the name of research.
It was absolutely beautiful, this beautiful century-old library hidden behind weeds, overgrown trees and crumbling walls. This was Calliope. A year later, it made its debut in the comic.
Since then, there's been some very good news for the first Calliope building. Funding was secured to restore the library in September 2016. It will now be a community center with childcare, a cafe, a history room, gardens, and more. It will be more Calliope-like than ever.
Photos from the Lister Drive Library
Footnote: Carnegie's philanthropy came at a price. He was at the center of the largest labor dispute in the US in 1892. His workers wanted better wages and working conditions. He insisted the money was put to better use elsewhere. "If I had raised your wages, you would have spent that money by buying a better cut of meat or more drink for your dinner," Carnegie told critics. "But what you needed, though you didn't know it, was my libraries and concert halls. And that's what I'm giving to you."
Hey folks, Meg here!
As we've been compiling the comics together for Comixology, I've been editing the various historical notes that have been assembled during the writing of the comic and expanding on them. Namesake employs a lot of twisted history, and to do this, it requires throughout research of the original events. In the current Intermission, you're getting a lot of references to the latter part of Alice Liddell Hargreaves' life, and while I plan to go into that, doing so right now will spoil a couple updates. So, we're going to loop back to the beginning of the story with the prologue.
Lewis Carroll was a prolific writer, and his diaries are quite extensive. Out of the 13 volumes he recorded during his adult life, nine of them have survived. His original biographer, a nephew, insisted that Carroll kept a journal as far back as when he was 10 years old. The surviving volumes begin just shy of Carroll's 23th birthday in 1855. The subject matter ranges from his classes at Oxford to his early experiments in photography to meeting a number of celebrities in the later part of his life and the lectures he gave through retirement.
Carroll died having never married or had children, so his journals passed into the care of his relatives. And that's when things started to go wrong.
When Carroll's family got ahold of the journals, they felt the need to preserve the image of Carroll as a saintly, chaste man, a generous patron of children around the world. The reality, revealed through the pages of those diaries, was that Carroll was an extrovert who greatly enjoyed having people around him - especially women. Carroll traveled, attended the theater, and brushed elbows with Mark Twain. He loved technology, and in addition to his photography, he tinkered with the early form of a tricycle. Carroll frequently went on long walks and adored puzzles. He was far from the recluse his family wanted him to be.
The first thing the Dodgsons did was have the nephew release that biography, which is an interesting study in Victorian-era biographies. The Life and Letters of Lewis Carroll emphasized Carroll's shyness and fondness for children, cherrypicking from the journals to support their claims. This biography started the road to damning Carroll's legacy in modern times, as frequent references were made to Carroll being "attracted" to children.
Then came the censorship. By 1932, four volumes of Carroll's diaries had disappeared by what his family claimed was negligence during a move. In 1969, the remaining journals were given to the British Library, but 10 pages were removed prior to the handover. At least two were done by Carroll himself during his lifetime, but the others were done by his family.
The prologue of Namesake centers around page 91 of his 8th journal, which covers June 27 to 29 of 1863. Part of the June 27 entry remains. The reason this particular cut page is so important is that it details what led to the break between Carroll and Alice Liddell's family, which took place during this time.
Carroll and the Liddells were extremely close, with Carroll a constant presence in young Alice's life. He took a number of photographs of the children, visited the family at home, and frequently picnicked with them. One of those picnics resulted in "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland." The cutoff diary entry starts off with Carroll asking Mrs. Liddell about the children coming to be photographed. Then there's nothing other than a mention of the family going on vacation. After six months, Carroll admitted in his journal that he'd been keeping his distance from them.
That particular missing page has led to a lot of speculation among Carroll scholars. In 1995, biographer Morton Cohen theorized that Carroll had proposed to 11-year-old Alice. A year later, scholar Karoline Leach discovered documentation among the Dodgson family papers that discussed the Liddells and the cut pages. Written by Violet Dodgson, who was one of the last of the family to have the diaries before the British Library took custody of them, she summarizes what was on that missing page.
‘L.C. learns from Mrs Liddell that he is supposed to be using the children as a means of paying court to the governess – he is also supposed [unreadable] to be courting Ina’.
By this time, Ina Liddell was 14 years old, and there was some evidence that she'd had a girlhood crush on Carroll. Carroll wrote about how Ina was growing tall and that Mrs. Liddell began insisting on a chaperone when before, Carroll was allowed to be around the children unsupervised. Ina had written to Carroll begging for his company at several points. Carroll had also been previously linked to the Liddell family governess, a claim that he noted "so groundless a rumour," and it's likely that the split happened because Mrs. Liddell did not want Ina's reputation put at risk as she became eligible for marriage. Regardless of the reason, Carroll stayed away from the Liddells, and the friendship gradually died.
In Namesake, this particular missing page is reworked to focus on Carroll's activities with Calliope and particularly Alice Liddell's first trip to Wonderland. In the Namesake universe, the missing journals 6 and 7 (April 1858 to May 1862) cover the period of time that Lewis was recruited by Calliope and became a full-fledged member. Thus, the censorship largely either comes from Lewis himself or by Calliope - perhaps at the order of Alice herself once she becomes head of Calliope.