35

Not being a comics expert, I can't be sure, but I think this applies mostly to Marvel comics.

Why do so many characters have double initials? There's Pepper Potts, Reed Richards, Sue Storm, Peter Parker and I think at some times there was Bruce Banner (when it wasn't David Banner).

Is this an inside joke or is there some reasoning for this?

  • 11
    Lex Luthor, Lana Lang, Lois Lane, Clark Kent (yeah there's a C, but it sounds like a K!). – user1027 Jan 20 '12 at 2:03
  • 20
    You just saw that Big Bang Theory episode didn't ya? – cambraca Jan 20 '12 at 3:23
  • 8
    It's called alliteration – apoorv020 Jan 20 '12 at 5:02
  • 15
    The search query that led me here "Does stan lee name ubuntu releases ?" (I use ddg.gg) – bhathiya-perera Dec 3 '13 at 4:16
  • 4
    Bugs Bunny, Porky Pig, Donald Duck, Mickey Mouse, Krazy Kat. – user14111 Sep 15 '15 at 1:19
54

Given the fact that Stan Lee was the writer and co-creator across so many of the titles and characters at the formative years of Marvel Comics, it was a way for him to make it easier to remember them when writing and fleshing out the scripts.

Here's a snippet of a Q&A with Stan Lee around the premier of Spider-Man 2 that explains it all:

And we can chalk up all the alliterative names in the Marvel universe to Stan Lee's one failing. "It would be hard for you to believe this, because I seem so perfect: I have the worst memory in the world," Stan said. "So I finally figured out, if I could give somebody a name, where the last name and the first name begin with the same letter, like Peter Parker, Bruce Banner, Matt Murdock, then if I could remember one name, it gave me a clue what the other one was, I knew it would begin with the same letter."

If you want to look at DC Comics, and in particular Superman, it may have been due to a personal romantic connection of Joe Shuster, one of Superman's co-creators:

What is the L. L. connection for Superman?
A remarkably large number of characters in the comics have the initials L. L. Most notable are Lex Luthor, Lois Lane, Lana Lang, and Lori Lemaris. A rumor says that these names were chosen because Joe Shuster's first girlfriend had the initials L. L.

  • 12
    I will never, ever, be mature enough to not giggle at Lex Luthor being on that list. – Zibbobz Oct 16 '14 at 14:30
  • 1
    @Zibbobz Your comment made me giggle! – Möoz Oct 16 '14 at 20:55
  • @Zibbobz add in the fact Lex and Clark are both Superboy's biological parents ;) – Brouellette Mar 9 '15 at 4:36
  • Care to explain "Vicky Vale"? – Wad Cheber stands with Monica Sep 14 '15 at 23:51
  • 1
    @WadCheber - Because she isn't a Superman related character? – Xavon_Wrentaile Feb 29 '16 at 1:23
16

WARNING: TVTROPES ALERT!!!

From "AlliterativeName" article on TVTropes (having a name with the same first and last letter is called "Alliterative Name"):

In comic books, this is especially true of the names of superheroes or their close hangers-on. It was a favorite tool of Stan Lee's, since, swarmed with projects, he often had trouble remembering the characters' names, and the alliteration worked as a mnemonic device. (Though it didn't always work perfectly — Lee occasionally referred to "Peter Palmer" and "Bob Banner".)

In comic books, the Alliterative Name is often also "Two First Names". In cartoons, it goes hand-in-hand with "Species Surname".

  • I expected to see a particular reference about names with the same initials in TVTropes, but was sadly disappointed. Don't make me elaborate. Anyway, your warning was too late. Now I must spend the next hour trapped inside TVTropes. – Andres F. Jan 20 '12 at 2:17
  • Accio Andres... – DVK-on-Ahch-To Jan 20 '12 at 2:27
  • @AndresF.: Hmm? – Lightness Races with Monica Oct 5 '15 at 14:46
5

I think he just did that to remember easier and its cool Bruce banner, sue storm, reed Richards , peter parker , pepper Potts, and the one no body thought of THE THING

  • 5
    ok, ok... +1 for "THE THING" – yrodro Oct 16 '14 at 14:28
4

Although it is not unique to Marvel Comics, which means that Stan Lee's own poor memory is somewhat irrelevant, I would imagine that it did begin as a mnemonic device to facilitate easy recollection of the characters' names, which became a longstanding tradition in the comic book industry. In my opinion, it's just too common to be explained any other way:

screen capture of Plarko.com showing an extensive list of alliterative comic book character names
Source

Believe it or not, this is nowhere near a complete list - for example, Vicki Vale and Beast Boy are missing, as are many, many more in the DC and Marvel universes. Other comic book publishers are no exception to the rule - e.g., Archie Andrews and Jughead Jones. Cartoon characters with alliterative names include Mickey and Minnie Mouse and Donald Duck, Fred Flintstone, Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, and Mr. Magoo. And long before any of these, we had Peter Pan.

  • Francis Freeman aka "Ajax" from Deadpool on the Marvel column. Although Deadpool never actually says his last name, at one point when he finally gets to his tormenter, he says, "snagged your dry cleaning tag from your lab coat..." and hands him a tag for us to see his full name: FREEMAN, FRANCIS, as he loves to taunt him for his first name once he learns it. – user66102 May 13 '16 at 23:32
  • You give Team Titles (TT) But we can also think of catchphrases "Avengers Assemble" – TinyDoowy Aug 1 at 9:34
1

Because Alliteration is fun! Also when you're working in a larger comic book universe with a complex plot and multiple important major and minor characters I would imagine alliterated names assist the reader in remembering who's who (especially when characters come and go all the time).As a writer myself, I often use Alteration in names as a way to assist readers (and myself occasionally) in remembering those characters- especially if they are relatively minor characters as these catchy names are unique and act as a kind of mnemonic:)

  • Welcome to the site, @Anna W.! The purpose of the site is to provide clear, and if possible, definitive answers to questions. While we have chat rooms, the site is not intended as a discussion site or for speculation on possible reasons for an answer. – Tango Mar 9 '15 at 4:57
  • You may be 100% correct that this is the reason why. Do you have any quotes you can cite from any Marvel comics creators backing up this idea? – phantom42 Mar 9 '15 at 5:03
1

Alliteration has been common in literature for a long time. It was used by Chaucer and so on, and apparently back to the Greeks. I'm aware of it at least since Shakespeare led me up the "primrose path". http://www.shakespeare-online.com/literaryterms/alliteration.html

Alliterative character names were used, for instance by Dickens

  • Nicholas Nickleby
  • Clara Copperfield
  • Flora Finching

Alliteration is one way to make a name or a passage of text more memorable. For that reason it is often used in advertising, e.g., "Chuckee Cheese".

Many authors have learnt its use deliberately or accidentally. It seems to be used more in comics, but that might be misleading because we remember the alliterative names better. For instance the analysis at https://aleph-zero-heroes.netlify.com/posts/alliteration/ suggests that alliterative names in comics are only a little more common that in real names.

Stan Lee's quote implied that he used it just for his own memory. But I think he was being a little self-deprecating. I think he knew what he was doing. I was reading some old stuff a little while ago and came across the following:

Okay Tiger... we've introduced our capricious characters... defined our halcyon hero's sinister mission on Earth... and set the scene for one of the most senses-shattering melees that even Gentleman Gene Golan ever drew! So, don't miss the pulse-pounding pay-off in Marvel Super-Heroes #14...

Stan Lee, Marvel Super-Heroes #14

I think Stan understood the advantage of alliteration all-too accurately. I don't think he was just copying -- I think he (like many authors) was exposed to many sources where it was used, and unconsciously absorbed it as a tool, rather than stealing the idea from one source.

And the results have been very memorable.

0

I get that some people struggle with names, but it doesn't seem uncommon even in the UK, Anglican Priest turned comic book editor Marcus Morris launched Eagle comic - home of Dan Dare also Thaddius Thorn, Kenny Corman, Populators of Pollux.

My point is, whatever the reason, the target audience is largely children - make the names easier to remember, they are more likely to remember them.

Oh and Roy of the Rovers.

It has been 25 years since I read either of those comics - still remember.

-1

The film Dick Tracy vs Cueball has a number of characters with the same initials. I would guess the original cartoon strip did the same. So Stan Lee pinched the idea from Chester Gould, who probably pinched it from someone like Dickens, ER Borroughs, Edgar Wallace or someone else.

  • 1
    ` So Stan Lee pinched the idea from Chester Gould, who probably pinched it from someone like Dickens, ER Borroughs, Edgar Wallace or someone else.` - do you have a source for this claim? – user58 Jul 18 '17 at 14:45
  • Watch the film or look up cast list on IMDB. The word is probably, based on the likelihood of Stan Lee seeing the Dick Tracy strip. There are lots of influences conscious or unconscious. Look at Bowie - he ripped off everyone he came across virtually. – Bill Brooks Jul 20 '17 at 9:18

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