Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Discuss: Comic Creator Names

Karen: J.A. Morris' recent posting of a link with an interview with Joe Sinnott made both Doug and I realize we had been mispronouncing his last name our entire lives! Turns out the emphasis is on the first syllable. This got us to thinking about other comic book creators' names we've mispronounced or been utterly clueless how to pronounce. I'll get it rolling with this one: writer Doug Moench. For years I pronounced it "Mench" until I heard it spoken as "Monk" at a convention.

Doug: Yeah, I always read that as "Munch". When Karen told me the other day that it was "Monk", that was news to me! Here's one, and I think I read this in Back Issue: I always thought it was Len "Wine", but it is really Len "Ween". Spelled W-e-i-n, what would you think it was?

Karen: I thought it was like "Wayne" until a few years ago! How about Bob McLeod? I think it's pronounced "McLoud" but I might be wrong. And hey, what about Bill Sienkiewicz? I saw it spelled out phonetically once but before that, I had no idea.

Doug: Is it Sin-kay-vich, with the accent on the second syllable? Seems to me that I, too, either saw the phonetic spelling or heard it once. Well, how about a couple of BAB faves, the Buscema brothers? When I was but a wee lad, I pronounced it Busk-e-ma (accent on the first syllable), but I'm thinking it's Byoo-see-muh, with the accent on the second syllable. Of course as we're going through this, our readers should feel free to correct us -- obviously this post is not about us feeling smug!

Karen: I actually did not know how to pronounce Buscema until I interviewed Gerry Conway for Back Issue and he said 'Byoo-sem-uh' -well, at least, that's how he pronounced it!

Doug: Oh ho! Then my emphasis is all wrong -- sounds to me (the way I read it) that the accent goes on the first syllable. See, who says this blog isn't educational? How about one more? Moving ahead to the very end of the Bronze Age -- maybe even a bit beyond -- we come to Jackson "Butch" Guice. When he took over the Flash revival, I assumed his name was pronounced "Goo-chee". Nope. Then I thought it was "Gice". Nope. It is pronounced "Gwice", like "ice" with a hard G and a W in front. Hmmph.

Doug: Up to you now, kids -- how many have shared our name-butchering travails? Are there other creators you get tongue-tied over? Let us know!


B Smith said...

I'd just be calling Mr Giacoia "Frank" because I'm blessed how *his* surname's pronounced.

B Smith said...

Oops...blessed if I know, that is.

Doug said...

B --

I'm hearing "Juh-koy-uh" for Frank.

Anyone else prove me wrong?


dbutler16 said...

It looks like I've been pronouncing Sinnott correclty, but I've always pronounced Moench as "Mench", I'd also pronounced Wein as "wine". I pronounce McLeod as "McLoud". I had assumed Buscema is either "Boo-SEM-ah" or "Boo-SHEM-ah". I had also pronounced Guice as "Juice".
I'm assuming Joe Rubenstein rhymes with "stine" though that can awlays go one way or the other. I take Wiacek as "WHY-ah-check", Michelenie as "MISH-el-een-ee", and, just for B Smith, I figure Giacoia is "GEE-ah-KOY-ah".

Thank goodness for Stan Lee and Jack Kirby!

david_b said...

I've always pronounced John and Sal's name as 'Boo-SEEM-a', and that's how comic folks I've talked to did it as well.

Having not been to comic cons or seen a lot of interviews with names mentioned, I'm content.

Good column.., I guess it's all based on perspective until you actually hear/see it pronounced somewhere.

Anonymous said...

Not to side track the thread but I think you could extend this discussion to character names as well.

When I was a 10 year old kid, my buddy introduced me to this amazing new character "Shang-Shy". But it's "Chee", right? As in, "Dude Get Your Hands Off My Chee..."

Sorry, but with the mental images of my friend jumping all around thinking he was a kung fu expert, he will always be Shang-Shy to me.


Steve Does Comics said...

This is a matter that's always played on my mind.

I'm proud to say I've been pronouncing Buscema as Byu-semm-a for twenty years, since reading a guide to pronunciations in a price guide.

It seems I've been getting Wein right as well.

I'd always wondered how Gulacy is pronounced. Is it Gull-assy, Gull-A-see, Goo-lacey, Juh-lackey, Goo-Latchy, or one of a hundred other possibilities?

Edo Bosnar said...

Wow, thanks for clearing up Moench - I never would have guessed that.
For the longest time I thought Wein was 'Wine,' but that flap with the similarly surnamed former congressman last year got me thinking. The odd thing is, in a German speaking country (where I'm assuming those names originated), they would be pronounced "Vine" and "Viner", while Wien (Vienna) is pronounced with the "ee" sound.
Anyway, thanks for clearing up Buscema for me - when I was a kid I thought it was Buh-seemah. I'm assuming that Romita is pronounced Roe-meet-ah, and not Roe-mittah or Roe-might-ah. Meanwhile, I though Guice was the same as Goose.
As for Sienkiewicz, in its original Polish, I think it would be pronounced something like "Syen-kye-veech" (although I admit Polish pronunciation is often quite different from the South Slav languages I'm familiar with); however, I think I heard once (maybe in a comic shop?) that it's supposed to be pronounced "Sin-kiev-vich" - accent on the first syllable, with the second pronounced the same as the Ukrainian capital.
One that still has me wondering is (Jan) Duursema. Anyone have any ideas on that?

William said...

When I was a kid I used to reverse the letters in John Byrne's name and pronounced it "By-ner", but that was just because I was a stupid kid. Once really paid attention to the spelling of his name I realized it was pronounced "Burn". But then again I used to call Stan Lee, "Stane Eel". (Kidding).

Bob McLeod is indeed pronounced "McCloud". I have a friend who's a good friend of his, and I met him a few times and that's how it's pronounced.

Bill Sienkiewicz was always a tough one for me. When left to my own interpretation I used to pronounce it "Sink-O-Wits".

Len Wein I have always pronounced "Wayne", and Doug Moench was always "Mench".

The Buscema bros, I incorrectly called "Boo-see-ma".

Now, keep in mind most of this was when I was like 10 or 11 years old.

Edo Bosnar said...

Actually, I just thought of one that I've never been sure about: David Michelinie. I always assumed it's "Mish-eh-leenie" - anyone know if that's correct?

dbutler16 said...

Edo Bosnar, I don't know if that pronounciation of Michelenie is correct, but like I said in my post, that's how I've always pronounced it. So, if we're wrong, we'll be wrong together!

dbutler16 said...

Oh, "Juh-koy-uh" for Frank is probably right, I would imagine. Not that my batting average is very good here.

Anonymous said...

Something that never occurred to me until now.....when I was a kid I used to discuss comics with my friends all the time, so we said (or tried to say) these names out loud all the time. Now, I still see these names on a daily basis, and chat on the net about them, but I have no idea when I last said one of these names out loud and actually pronounced it.

Regarding Giacoia, I think it’s pronounced... ‘ray’. No, actually, I believe it’s Gwa-kwa. When I was little I used to ask my mum how to pronounce them all. Up to then it was all John Byron and Frank Gee-a-coy-a, but she put me right. At least I always thought so? I’ve asked round the office. The Spanish reckon it’s Italian, the Italians deny all knowledge. I think he was actually Italian though.

Edo...I’ve always said Mitch-el-in-y, so mitch rather than mish, but I have no justification for that.

Doug / Karen – the Ween/Wine thing is weird, right? I have a colleague called Weinstein, who pronounces it as the Germans would... Wine – stine, so accent on the second vowel of the two....if it was spelt Wienstien, then it would be Ween-steen. However, one very often hears that name pronounced Wine-steen (as in Harvey & Bob), which is completely self-contradictory.

By the way, our pain is shared. Steve, this might answer your Gulacy question:


Doug said...

RE: David Michelinie. I always hear "Mick-eh-leen-ee".

RE: Jan Duursema. I hear "Doo-ur-se-mah. Hey, and I didn't know until literally a couple of weeks ago that Jan was a female artist! Duh to me!


pete doree said...

Big John & Our Pal Sal must be Boo-Sem-Ah, like Steve Buscemi.
Sienkiewicz I always thought was Sen-Ka-Vitch.
But what about Rick Veitch? Veetch?
Or Dick Giordano? Gee-Or-Darn-oh?
Frank Giacoia I don't think anybody knows for sure, and as for Doug Moench, not even The Watcher knows! It's different for every person you ask!

MattComix said...

I remember kids including myself for a long time referring to John Byrne as John "Bi-urn" or "Byron".

I also here "Liefeld" get pronounced as "Lee-field" a lot for some reason.

Dougie said...

Michelenie is "Mick-el-eye-knee". A Bullpen Bulletins page used "pickle my knee" to aid pronunciation. Ahem.

As a kid, I first read Shang-Chi to rhyme with Shanghai and even though I know it's wrong, I still "hear" it that way. Similarly I read Doug Moench (idiotically) as "Mo-neck". Byoo-seem-a, rather than Busk-emma, was also a shock. But then, in a village in Scotland, we didn't have any exotic names...

What about J. M. DeMatteis?

And better yet, what about comic book aliens? Shy-Ar or Shee-Ar? Tin-YA or Teeny-ah Wazzo?

Doug said...



Far as I know...


Edo Bosnar said...

Cripes, I think you can launch an entire blog dedicated to this topic alone...
Anyway, Giordano is one I always "heard" wrong in my head as a kid: I though it was Gee-or-dano, with the "G" pronounced as in the name Greg. It's actually, quite simply, "Jordahno" - confirmed to me by Howard Chaykin (pronounced just like it's spelled).
Michelinie's odd - I prefer the way dbutler and I say it.
Rick Veitch is another one I've always wondered about. Isn't "Vaytch" also possible?
Another one I remember is Nicola (Nick) Cuti - is it "Cutie", "Cootie" (which, although unfortunate, is what I think it is) or, possibly, "Cutty"?

Anonymous said...

Funny, I always assumed J.M De Matteis was pronounced Dee - mat - eye - us (like a Dutch name), but Dee-mat-is is probably the correct Americanisation.

Richard ('Rich-ard'...although I'm now considering putting a silent Q on the front)

Steve Does Comics said...

Thanks for the Paul Gulacy link, Richard. At last, after all these years, I can finally say his name with confidence. :)

J.A. Morris said...

The Italian bit of me always read Giacoia the same way I pronounce Giovanni. Gio=a J sound, so it's probably something like "Ja-COY-a.

Doug said...

Edo --

There's an excellent pizza chain in the Chicago area (stuffed pizza, brother -- enough cheese to choke a small child...) called Giordano's, and around here it is indeed Gee-or-dah-no. But I like your more Old World version better!


pete doree said...

Wait ( cough splutter ) there's a pizza joint called Giordano's?!! That might just be the coolest thing I've ever heard! Can you get the Sarge Steel platter? Or the Stephanie Starrburger?

Doug said...

Pete --

Go here:; I am not kidding on the cheese, man.

And for you New Yawkers, THIS is pizza.


Gray said...

This is going to sound ridiculous, but being such a Claremont/Byrne fanatic during their X-Men run, I saw a lot of the work of the letterer Tom Orzechowski. I could never make it past the first two syllables of his name!!! Furthermore, where the heck was all this information that y'all are dispensing when I was a kid puzzling out all of these crazy names!

Rip Jagger said...

Despite looking at his name countless times, I carelessly thought of Rocke Mastroserio as "Mastrosio" or some knuckleheaded thing like that. Then I actually noticed I was not pronouncing it like it was spelled at all. Sheesh!

And it's "Rocky" apparently and not "Rock" like I used to say it too. Great talent, deserved better from me.

And Dick Giordano is "Gee-or-dahn-oh" I think, and not "Ghi-or-dane-o" like I said it for years. At least I think so.

At least I pronounced Joe Gill's name right all those years, despite the fact I thought he was just a mythical house name.

Rip Off

david_b said...

Pizza..?? Give me those glorious 'Chicago Dogs' anyday.

Gawd, I love 'em.. THAT'S what I missed during my Army deployments.

Yes, Chicago's pizza's are great as well, Doug.

Matthew Bradley said...

Thanks, Dougie! I thought I was the only one who remembered the "pickle my knee" thing, but you beat me to it. I thought they had a similar aide de memoir that confirmed the "Boo-SEE-ma" pronunciation, but I could be wrong.

humanbelly said...

Say, can I jump back to the "How to pronounce character names??" tangent for a moment?---


Do you imagine that Stan or anyone-ANYONE- actually said this name out loud before he saw print in Fantastic Four-? My boyhood pal Bryan & I spent multiple years under the self-created assumption that his name was clearly to be pronounced, "anna-HILL-us". I don't think it was until I was about 17 or so that I thought, "wait a minute-- his name is obviously a play on the word 'annihilate', so. . . wouldn't that morph into something more like, 'uh-NYE-luss'-?" Oh, how mortifying.

And, of course, the BENCHMARK here would "Sub-Mariner", yes? Right? Right? A show of hands from all of those who DIDN'T first start by pronouncing it "SubmaREENer"-? Anyone? Hmmm? Heh- just as I thought. . .


Matthew Bradley said...

Hah! I always reasoned that because the word "mariner" (as in the Ancient Mariner) was pronounced MARE-in-ur, then "Sub-Mariner" would be pronounced the same way, since he's a mariner under the sea. In fact, those who serve on submarines are also called "submariners," although I have no idea how your average submariner pronounces that (and am afraid to ask). But the clincher for me was an issue in which some dock worker or the like saw Namor rise from the depths and said, "Hey, it's the SubmaREENer," clearly indicating--at least in my mind--that he was pronouncing it incorrectly, or else why use the altered spelling? Okay, this forced me to look "submariner" up in my trusty Merriam Webster, where both pronunciations are listed as acceptable (along with a third one in which the primary accent is on the first syllable; ugh), but "mine" is preferred...

Similarly, I've always said An-NYE-hill-us.

starfoxxx said...

As kids, we all had trouble with BYRNE, believe it or not,

And Scienkevicz (sp) was the worst.

humanbelly said...

Ha! And you, Mr.Bradley, were therefore the most commendably literate amongst us! I'm not sure if, at 9 years old or so, "The Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner" or the word "annihilate" were conversational parts of my gang's idiom, as it were.

(Well, "annihilate" may have been, actually-- just 'cause it always sort of one-upped "crush" or "destroy". . . )

Ha-- I believe I even remember that dock-worker you're referring to--!

Okay, and the other obvious one to confess to, I suppose, would be "Mjolnir". Again, we were grade-school kids in a tiny little town in Michigan-- not a heck of a lot of international/intercultural pollination goin' on. We tended to take the tried-and-true route of simply pronouncing every letter in the fashion the seemed most familiar:


C'monc'monc'mon-- surely SOMEONE else MUST have done the same? Yes? Yes? Don't leave me & Bryan (wonder where he is now?) hangin', here-!


Matthew Bradley said...

I freely confess that I always said "muh-JOLE-nir," and probably still would today, even though I suspect it's more like "mee-YOLE-nir." I think they also had a "pickle my knee" type of thing indicating that it should be sin-KEV-itch. But again, don't quote me.

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