One of the few negatives about comics (and indeed, the literary field) is that readers never get a guide to pronunciation for creators’ names. (Same for characters but that’s another column. I’m such a tease.) And of the dozens of books I have on comics and their creators, not a single one has a pronunciation key.
What’s infuriatingly frustrating is that when one meets with fellow collectors, everyone suddenly becomes an orthoepist (an expert on pronunciation, or orthoepy) and assumes that the way they’ve pronounced a name is correct simply because they’ve been saying it that way for decades! Or they figure that because it’s spelled a certain way, it must be pronounced a certain way.
To which I say, HA!!
I’ve had my own last name butchered since childhood so I know what it’s like. (Understandable when it’s something bizarre like Flobquwzetickpzngy…But Pascale? I’ve heard Pass-cally, Pas-qually, Pas-qual, Pass-kal, Pass-call, PASS-kel. Some co-workers once nicknamed me “Eddie Paskel”. And I wasn’t even *on* LEAVE IT TO BEAVER.)
I know it’s hard to accept that you’ve been saying your favorite artist or writer’s name incorrectly for the last ten years or more, but isn’t it better to know the truth? (And I’m hoping you, unlike Tom Fooze, can handle the truth.) So I’m going to offer a few of the more common ones that I know for sure are correct; garnered either from the individual, a family member or a very close friend/long-time co-worker. Some seem obvious but are just a matter of a vowel (Brunner, Giger, Feldstein, Liefeld) and others are more complex.
And yes, I know you may see one that you think is wrong because you met the guy at a con and he didn’t correct you; but trust me, sometimes we just smile and let it go because it’s easier that way.
In abecedarian order:
Alfredo Alcala: Surprisingly, most get this one right: Al-KAL-ah. Who coincidentally provided some incredible inking for the next guys:
John and Sal Buscema: This one gets butchered more than any I’ve encountered. Luckily it only took me ten years to find out the truth: “Byoo-SEM-ah.” Note the “y” sound.
Kurt Busiek: It’s “BYOO-sik”. Two syllables. Some make it three (“Byoo-see-ik”) but I heard otherwise. Again, note the “y” sound.
Norm Breyfogle: That’s BRAY-fo-gul. Typed it hisself.
Frank Brunner: As Frank himself corrected me, “Rhymes with ‘runner’.” He could never figure out where idiots like me got “Brooner” from. (Gulp.)
John Byrne: “Burn”. (When I was a kid I thought it was phonetic: By-ern–which is much harder to pronounce!)
Milt Caniff: Accent on the second syllable. Though I admit I’ve only heard it from older pros, not anyone he worked with.
Gene Colan: Just like the punctuation sign. (Were you thinking something else and giggling? Grow up!)
Ernie Colón: Just like the fragrance–or city in Germany (“Cologne”). Again, the little mark above the vowel helps.
Al Feldstein: That last syllable rhymes with “clean”, which is exactly like Al’s inking and painting!
Frank Frazetta: Believe it or not, I’ve met otherwise intelligent folks (and some not so) who pronounce it “Fran-zetta”. Where did the “n” come from? Maybe it’s for “NO ’n’!”
H. R. Giger: You’d think it’d be the same as the radiation-detecting device, but nope. Rhymes with “eager.”
Dave Gutierrez (my fellow Wednesday’s Heroes creative cohort): “Guh-TEAR-ez.” Three syllables, not four. What makes it easy to remember is that he’s a mad guitar player in an even madder band (Lethal Agression). So think “Guitar-ez” and you’ll get it.
Paul Gulacy: Three syllables: “Guh-LAY-see.” Interestingly, I’ve not heard anyone mispronounce it yet. (If he’d worked for EC’s horror books, I bet they’d change it to “Ghoulacy”.)
Joe Jusko: Like Brunner, it’s a short “u”. (If you’ve ever seen Joe in person, you’ll know why you want to make sure you say it right. Let’s just say he could use himself for his Conan reference!)
Joe Kubert: It’s KYOO-bert. (Notice a theme with that “y” sound?) Thankfully I had this correct when he interviewed me at age 17 to get into his school!
Rob Liefeld: Todd McFarlane said it best long ago: “First you have a lie. Then you have a feld.” (No idea what it means, but thanks, Todd!)
Mike Mignola: Min-YO-la. Apparently it’s “Swiss-Italian,” whatever that means. (He digs cheese?)
George Pérez: PAY-rez. (Yes, the accent is on the first syllable, with a long ‘a’, not the more common second. I had it wrong for years. See the little accent-thingy? That gives you the reminder.)
Wendy and Richard Pini: Rhymes with “meanie,” which is ironic because they are two of the nicest people in the industry.
Herb Trimpe: As Stan himself wrote, “Rhymes with ‘shrimpy’.” (I’m sure Herb was flattered.)
Boris Vallejo: Vall-YAY-ho. (Though some simply pronounce it “painter.”)
Mort Weisinger: According to Roy Thomas, it’s “WY-zing-er.” Which is appropriate because I hear he was famous for hurling “zingers” at his staff.
And yes, there are many more: I’ve either forgotten or am unsure of myself. Especially true of artists from the last ten years, as more “global” pros have come into the biz. So if you know any, please feel free to add in the “Comments” section. But you’d better be right or I’ll say bad things about you to the pro!
Finally, in case you’re curious…How do you really pronounce my name?
It’s “Mike”. As in “Like.” Easy, right?
P.S.: Another commonly mispronounced word is “commission.” Here at Wednesday’s Heroes, we pronounce it “affordably awesome art.” Want one? I’m available and eager. Just ask Craig (pronounced “Boss”). He’s only a click away!