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Knowledge Waits: 1984 Pronunciation Guide for Marvel Comics Writers and Artists

This is the latest in a feature where I just share some bit of comic book history that interests me. Here is a collection of all of the installments in the feature so far.

Back in 1984, Marvel Age had a pronunciation guide for various Marvel artists and writers at the time (at least those with tricky names).

A lot of them are still working today and the ones that aren’t are still useful to know (like John Buscema).



Travis Pelkie

May 25, 2014 at 12:06 am

The dude that wrote Moon Knight and Master of Kung Fu really was a stand up guy, eh?

Huh, I didn’t know some of this ever. This IS useful! Like Janson being pronounced Johnson, basically, and Trimpe being 2 syllables.

Although I guess my delightful “sippin’ on Jin and Guice” joke doesn’t work.

Of course Stephanie Buscema, John’s granddaughter (I think I’m right on that, anyway) is doing fine work around, so it’s useful for that.

Sal Buscema is still inking, too, mostly over Ron Frenz.

I never would have guessed that Trimpe was a two syllable word. I’ve always though it was pronounced Trimp. Also figured Marvel’s Ralph Macchio would be pronounced the same as actor Ralph Macchio.

A lot of old school comic creators seem to have names that are not pronounced how they’re spelled. I;m sure if I put my mind to it I could come up with several that aren’t listed here. Seems kind of weird.

I’m a little surprised David Michelinie isn’t on this list. Was he not working for Marvel in 1984?

Right? That one surprised me, as well, since he WAS working at Marvel at the time writing Indiana Jones and his name is one of the trickiest pronunciations in the business.

For those who are curious, his name is pronounced Mick-a-lie-knee.

Travis Pelkie

May 25, 2014 at 12:58 am

He may not have been, or not been working there long.

It rhymes with “pickle-my-knee”, iirc.

Other old timey pronunciations:

Eisner — AWE-some

Kirby — KING

Ditko — RAND

Stan Lee — LIE-ar

Alright, I can’t come up with any others, and these are barely funny as it is.

oz the malefic

May 25, 2014 at 1:55 am

Travis, I lol’d at Ditko

This is neat. I’m not entirely sure Byrne needed to be there (then again, that might simply be because I knew a couple Byrnes in school…)…but neat.

The contrast between Fedunewicz and Sienkewicz’s names is interesting to me, too.

(I’ve been mispronouncing DeMatteis and Trimpe all this time!)

I’m pretty sure Talaoc is pronounced Ta-LA-ock (not Ta-LAY-ock), since Filipino names are usually pronounced as spelled. Also, talaok in tagalog means “a cock’s crow”. Maybe that’s how Marvel staffers used to address him then, and Mr. Talaoc just never bothered to correct them.

And apparently I’ve been pronouncing Janson wrong. I’ve always assumed it was YAN-son.

So, out of the 13 I’ve ever used in conversation, 6 were wrong…

> I’m not entirely sure Byrne needed to be there

Until I was ~25, I thought it was pronounced “BYE-urn”.

Anybody else say “Dikto” for years? I KNOW it’s not spelled that way but it feels like it ought to be.

Do you have Marvel’s Super Dude Name Maker? It’s from around that time. I can’t remember which comic it was in, I think Mark Gruenwald used it.

Jazzbo, in the Italian language CH is pronounced as a hard K like school rather than a shh like most other instances in English. So this is the more “correct” pronunciation.

travis must be stopped, i fear he is becoming too powerful since i just about threw up laughing. on second thought, travis, don t ever stop

And George Perez’s last name is pronounced PEAR-ez. Accent on the first E (as a long-ago book on him was titled).

@Kamino Neko- The difference there is that some immigrant families will maintain the “proper” ethnic pronunciation of their name (like Sienkiewicz or Macchio) while others will anglicize it (like Fedunewicz or Buscema). For example, the correct Polish pronunciation of Orzechowski would be o-zhe-KHOF-skee; evidently, Tom’s family changed the pronunciation to be more in line with English spelling when they came to America

I wish they had one of these for some of their characters.

Scott Dietsch

May 25, 2014 at 7:43 am

I, too, have read “pickle-MY-knee” for David Michelinie’s pronuncation, perhaps in a different Marvel Bullpen Bulletins.

Trevor:”I wish they had one of these for some of their characters.”

Yeah. Some ones that I had trouble with as a kid:

Ka-Zar: It’s actually pronounced Kay-Zar. As a boy, though, I pronounced it Kah-Zar.

Magneto: This will show how old I am. I pronounced it like magnet with an “O” at the end. It wasn’t until the ’90s cartoon started that I learned that it was supposed to be Magneato, with a long “E.”

Trimpe was the one that I was most off on. I always pronounced it to rhyme with shrimp.

Krabappel? I’ve been calling her Crandall! Why didn’t anybody tell me? I’ve been making an idiot of myself!

Ethan Shuster

May 25, 2014 at 8:25 am

Trimpe, Janson and Budiansky were surprises to me. Though they should’ve included “Hama”, too, since we silly Americans often can’t even manage that.

I am pretty sure that I’ve been mispronouncing all of these.

I learned fairly recently that I MAY be pronouncing Namor wrong. I’ve always thought it was “NAY-more”, but I recently heard something closer to “Nammer”. “Nay-more” sounded appropriately kingly to me as a kid, so I stuck with it.

Karma’s entire family gives me a headache.

Captain Haddock

May 25, 2014 at 10:10 am

I am suprised John Romita isn’t there, my cousin and I used to argue about the pronounciation of his name (I said Roh-Mee-Tah, he said Roh-My-Tah).

I was way off on Moench, Macchio, and Byrne (I thought it was like “bayern”)

I’ve read that he pronounces it “Pickle My Knee” as well. I think it was in an Amazing Spider-Man letters page. Peter David also confirms this is how Michelinie asks his name to be pronounced:


I certainly say Nay-more. I also say Sub-Mariner more like “marinate” than like “submarine”

Saying Magneto like “magnet” just makes more sense to me. I can’t get used to the “neato” thing.

I’m not sure that the Sub-Mariner thing was comprehensible in the way I meant. I just meant I say Sub-MARE-in-er, not Sub-Mar-EEN-er.

Saying Magneto like “magnet” just makes more sense to me. I can’t get used to the “neato” thing.

A magneto is actually a real-world thing that predates the comic character and is pronounced Mag-NEE-to, so the pronunciation wasn’t created by Marvel.

buttler:”I certainly say Nay-more. I also say Sub-Mariner more like “marinate” than like “submarine”

I’m pretty sure that “Sub-Mareener” is wrong. I’ve read comics where Namor complains about surface-men pronouncing it that way, telling them that it’s actually pronounced Mariner (like in THE RIME OF THE ANCIENT MARINER) instead.

I pronounced pretty much all of these incorrectly, and Romita, too (Haddock is right, it’s ro-mee-tah). Oddly enough, though, I always said Trimpe’s name properly.

And yeah, it’s Nay-more, the Submariner (as in the Seattle Mariners/ Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner). Kay-Zar? I’ll buy it, but that seems Kray-Zay to me!

er, that’s Rime, like marlowe said!

I wish there were more guides like this for the modern age. Just the other day I discovered I’d been saying Ivan Reis’s name wrong for years. I had the first name right (EE-vahn) but I’d been saying his surname as two syllables (“RAY-iss”) when it’s apparently just pronounced “race”.

“Sub-mariner” was actually a real word for sailors on a submarine in the early 20th century. It’s definitely pronounced MAY-rinn-er.

I’ve always pronounced his given name as NAHH-mor, but I think I’ve heard NAME-or int he cartoons.

Omar Karindu:”I’ve always pronounced his given name as NAHH-mor, but I think I’ve heard NAME-or int he cartoons.”

Yeah, I’ve hear Nay-More used in he cartoons as well.

What’s interesting, though, is that I’ve heard that Everett got the name by reversing the spelling of “Roman,” which would seem to indicate that Nuh-More would be correct. Of course, I don’t know if the Roman/Namor story is true.

that’s outdated with dematteis. that was the old anglicized version of his name. i think he goes by day muh tay es now.

I always thought Buscema was byoo-SEE-ma.

@Omar: So is it Rime of the Ancient MAY-rinn-er, then? Seems weird that they would be pronounced differently.

Deceased MARVEL villain Solarr. Given the extra “R,” I’ve always pronounced his name So-Larr ( equal stress to both syllables, second syllable being pronounced with the “ar” in star”) instead of Solar (stress on first syllable, unstressed second syllable being pronounced with the “er” sound in “runner”). But that’s just me.

In case any people with non-Rhotic accents are reading this, my phonetic values are based on a General American (Rhotic) accent.

Cass:”@Omar: So is it Rime of the Ancient MAY-rinn-er, then? Seems weird that they would be pronounced differently.”

I’m pretty sure that Omar is saying that the “Mariner” part in Sub-Mariner is pronounced the same way as it is in THE RIME OF THE ANCIENT MARINER.

The splash page of X-Men #10 actually has a caption that says “Pronounced Kay-sar”, which always intrigued me.

Andrew Collins

May 25, 2014 at 5:31 pm

I never go to conventions so I don’t get to meet a lot of comic book talent and I can only guess at how to pronounce some of their names. “Sienkiewicz” gave me fits for years until I finally learned the correct pronunciation. As a kid I said “Sink-o-wits” instead of “Sin-KEV-itch.”

From that list, I see I’ve been saying DeMatteis, Trimpe, Macchio, Janson and Orzechowski wrong. I wasn’t as off as Sienkiewicz’s name, but I was still leaving out syllables or incorrectly using a hard/soft “c” sound.

Oddly enough, I seem to have been saying Giacoia and Talaoc right all this time…

Now can someone confirm how to say Art Thibert’s name? Is it “Thigh-bert” or “Tee-bear”? That has bugged me for years…

Travis Pelkie

May 25, 2014 at 7:21 pm

I don’t know about Thibert, but I would have assumed “Thigh-bert” before this post threw my entire world for a loop. Although if he was a guest on the show on after the Daily Show, it’d be “Thigh-bear”.

There’s also the recently deceased Aliens designer, Gee-Ger.

And the synthesizer pioneer Moog, rhymes with “Vogue”. Which I believe led to a joke on Venture Bros., where the Monarch is planning his prison break, and tells “Moo-gli” something, who replies “it’s mo-gli!”

And speaking of Venture Bros, there’s a time when Dr Venture mentions “Ka-Zar” and I think he says it “Kah-Zar”.

I thought it was NAY-mor myself, and it took me years to realize (and it’s referenced in Marvels — I think “Popeye” says it wrong, maybe) that it’s Sub-MARE-in-er.

Here’s a good place for my joke — I hear they’re making a Namor movie, and Ah-nold will be the villain, but I’m not sure who he’s playing. Just heard that Ah-nold said “it’s not Attuma!”

How about Lex Luthor? That’s one I’ve heard different ways.

Of course, I’m so dumb for years I thought the beloved comic strip was Calvin and Hob-bies.

oh my i cannot breathe. not a tumor, indeed

i still cannot pronounce nicieza, fabian(en?) nor other-wise, or breathe, but i m over that now. puff! *choke*

I remember it was an Amazing Spider-Man letters page that said Michelinie was pronounced like ‘Pickle my knee’. I don’t remember which issue, and it’s driving me crazy because I’m pretty sure I own it. It also threw me, because I’d previously pronounced it like Michelin.

Travis Pelkie

May 25, 2014 at 11:59 pm

I believe I saw the “Pickle my knee” in a Superman lettercol when he took over from Roger Stern on Action in the mid 90s.

Either S!MoNSa!Z is easily amused or I’m funnier than I thought.

Here are a few of our illustrious commenters here on the blog and their pronunciations.

Jazzbo — GREN-dul

John Trumbull — TRUM-bull MAY-ker

Dean Hacker — TOO DAMN SMART

Omar Karindu — TOO DAMN SMART (good thing they spell it differently!)

Ethan Shuster — NOT JOE’S GRAND-kid

joshschr — I like to say it like a librarian is hushing an unruly boy named Josh (josh-shshshshshshshrrrr), but he told me to call him J-Diz-ZLE. I’m down with that.

buttler — eh-DEE-oh-lect

T — um. I’m stumped on this one. No, wait, I think it’s “no matter how you pronounce it, Michelinie is the worst thing to happen to Spider-Man since Gwen Stacy took a swan dive off a high bridge. And let me tell you another thing, not only is Jeph Loeb a terrible writer, but so is Brian Azzarello, with his reliance on lame puns and elliptical sentences, and …. ” (I loves ya T, and I’m just kidding!)

On a serious note, it’s PEL-key. People don’t seem to know how to pronounce it when it’s written, or if I say it and then they have to spell it out, I’ll get to the PEL and they’ll want to either write KEY or KE, for some reason. The more you know, and knowledge is power, and all that happy crappy.

Duff McWhalen

May 26, 2014 at 5:29 am

Hmmm, I’m pretty certain that is the romanization for “COO-ra-mo-to.”

Xavier’s name being pronounced ex-AY-vier really gets on my moobs

T — um. I’m stumped on this one. No, wait, I think it’s “no matter how you pronounce it, Michelinie is the worst thing to happen to Spider-Man since Gwen Stacy took a swan dive off a high bridge. And let me tell you another thing, not only is Jeph Loeb a terrible writer, but so is Brian Azzarello, with his reliance on lame puns and elliptical sentences, and …. ” (I loves ya T, and I’m just kidding!)

Even when I refrain from going there, I can’t win!

To me, Travis, it’s always pronounced “DRIL-rod” . Loves and cuddles!

Well Winchester Meatcleaver beat me to it, but we can totally blame the cartoons and movies for the mispronunciation of Xavier. I grew up in a town where high schools and universities are names for St. Xavier, and it should always be pronounced zey-vee-er. Ecks-AY-vee-er makes one sound stupid.

I’m a bad Marvel zombie. For years, I’ve been pronouncing the following names wrong:

Buscema — boo-SHEH-ma
Budiansky — buh-dee-ANN-skee
Guice — gwice
Janson — (just like it’s spelled)
Macchio — (just like the actor of the same name)
Orzechowski — or-ze-CHOW-skee

I should get bonus points for pronouncing “Sienkiewicz”, correctly, right?

May 25, 2014 at 8:10 pm

no Nicieza?”

Nicieza wasn’t working for Marvel in 1984. I’ve always pronounced it “nee-see-AY-za”. Don’t know if that’s right or not.

By bizarre coinicidence, I happen to be reading Captain Marvel (Vol 4) 19 (from 2004) this morning on the train to work. In the editorial blurb at the beginning, PAD felt the need to share this:

“Jo Quesada (keh-SAH-duh);
Fabian Nicieza (nee-tsee-AY-sah);
Bill Jemas (JEH-mus);
Sub-Mariner (sub-MH-ruh-ner);
Moon Knight (ka-NIG-git).”

For anyone interested, a retired UK submarine commander once told me that in the UK Navy, his profession is pronounced sub-MAH-rih-ner; but his US counterparts pronounce it sub-ma-REE-ner. Namor never uses that name for himself anyway, so I doubt he cares much either way.

Buscema is a common italian surname (from Sicily) and it’s read boo-sheh-mah. Italian strict pronunciation rules applies to surnames, as well, so one can’t be wrong.
The reason why it became byu-see-ma I can only guess: probably his family was just fed up of hearing it misread/misspelled, so they accepted the “read it as it’s written” version.
This probably applies to most Italian surnames (and names!) like Macchio. “Macchio” (read ma-kee-o, sort of…) is quite rare, but “Maccio” (read Mat-cho) is pretty common. The actor’s family probably decided that adding an H would allow an easier pronunciation, or just the opposite. Whatever it is, italian surnames are hardly pronounced the right way in the USA, even by their holders!

You know you’ve been reading comics for a long time when you can pronounce the following sentence:
“Did you read that new Nicieza and Sienkiewicz book about Mxyztplk attacking Themysciara?”

I think cartoon have had NAY-MOR….FF cartoons, or maybe his Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends appearance….but boy, it’s hard to tell in the original cartoon (Around 1:29 mark)


I’ll have to listen to other episodes to see if it’s just that actress.

But it’s definitely the Rhyme of the Ancient variety.

The theme song seems to sound a bit more like Nay-mor.

Did they forget De-light-ful and dee-love-lee ?

I’ve mentioned this in other threads, but I only somewhat recently realized that when I see the full name “Charles Xavier” I read Xavier as “ecks-AY-vee-er” but in pretty much every other context I read it as “ZAY-vee-er.” I realized it when an issue had dimension travelers looking for the local version of Prof. X saying they were looking for “an Xavier” which was like a literary speed bump to my brain.

One thing that always bugs me is that every person I’ve ever met who pronounces “Magneto” with a short “e” insists they do it because it makes more sense for it to sound like “magnet” with an “o” on the end … but they then proceed to pronounce it “mag-NET-o” instead of “MAG-net-o” which is how “magnet” with an “o” on the end would actually be pronounced, according to every time I’ve ever heard anyone say the word “magnet.”

My grade-school friends and I pronounced “Rogue” as “Rouge” for an embarrassingly long time. I know we’re not the only ones who ever did this, because there was an issue of X-Men where Rogue was talking to some reporters and said “remember, the name’s ‘Rogue,’ not ‘Rouge.'” At the time it kind of bugged me, because clearly it was Claremont correcting the way readers pronounced it, but it was a mistake you’d only make when you’d only ever seen the name in print, which wouldn’t be the case for, you know, people who were right there talking to her.

When I first started reading comics, I used to pronounce the last syllable of Wolverine as rhyming with the number 9. At the time I’d never heard of the animal he was named after.

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