So what do I use to ‘cleanse my palette’, so to speak?
You heard me. And I’m not even kidding. I’ve been a fan of comic books, like the majority of people young and old that read them, since I was a young child. Their uncanny (you see what I did there?) ability to tell a complex story in such a simple fashion over 25-30 pages, sometimes with very little dialogue, has always held a special place in my heart.
For those that haven’t read my new novel, Clarity, yet and haven’t read the blurb that I added for the ‘About the Author’ segment at the end; I mention how it was originally penned as a comic book back in the day. It was during this time that something struck me as odd, yet very efficient.
Peter Parker. Bruce Wayne. Scott Summers. Hal Jordan. Jean Grey.
What do they all have in common? Very simple names. To be more precise, names with four-or-less syllables. Think it’s merely a coincidence? So did I. I started going through some of the ones I loved as a child to disprove my theory.
James Howlett. Clark Kent. Dick Grayson. Reed Richards.
Sure, there are the exceptions – but they are just that, exceptions to the general rule. Even some of those, however, have fallen in line over the years. Otto Octavius (aka Dr. Octopus) has become Doc Ock in recent times, and Professor Charles Xavier became known as Professor X.
But why would the comic industry legends like Lee, Whedon, Romita, Bendis, Siegel and Kirby (and a whole list of others too long to mention here) streamline their character names in such a manner? Surely, there must be some logic to this madness.
Because you remember them. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? Whom would you be more apt to recall as Spiderman: a kid named Peter Parker, or a kid named Jason Wachokowski? (not a made up name, by the by – someone I knew as a kid. But I’m sure I butchered the spelling…my apologies). Not that there’s anything wrong with Mr. and Mrs. Wachokowski’s son’s name, but it doesn’t exactly roll off your tongue, now does it?
Granted, it’s not just as simple as picking any short-syllable name. For instance, mild-mannered reporter Jim Smith doesn’t ring the same bell as Clark Kent. Likewise, billionaire playboy Doug Jones isn’t quite Tony Stark, either.
As soon as I realized what was happening all of these years right in front of my very eyes, I realized I just had to adopt the same formula for whatever I wrote; be it comic book or novel. If it worked for Stan Lee, surely he must be onto something! Not that Brigadier Stroud (Brig, for short) is a household name for anyone (yet?), but by the time Epsilon Book 1 ends, you’ll feel it rolling off your tongue as well.
Me? You can just call me…