Ask A Cartoonist: In the Middle!

By Tea Fougner

It’s time to discover the answer to one of the world’s great mysteries: what are some of you favorite characters’ — and cartoonists’– middle names?

Alex Hallatt, Arctic Circle:

We’re not big into middle names in my family. My first name (Alexandra) is long enough! I have’t considered middle names for the Arctic Circle gang as yet, but I’m open to suggestions.

Ron Ferdinand, Dennis the Menace:

Now here’s an interesting bit of info for all the ‘Comics Kingdom’ fans. Hank’s middle name is KING!

Mort Walker, Beetle Bailey:

As far as middle names go my strip has a broad variety. Beetle Bailey and Sgt. Orville Snorkel don’t have middle names. Plato, Zero and others don’t have last names. Miss Buxley and Miss Blips don’t have first names. I don’t know whether Cpl. Yo’s name is first, middle or last. So there! Confused? My name is Addison Morton Walker. The fad in Missouri at the time I was born was for everyone to have 3 names, but after a while, my mother thought it was too many names to be called to dinner. They flipped a coin and Morton won. Then when I was old enough to be in charge of myself I shortened myself to just plain Mort. And I’m not going to tell you all the names I’ve been called. Let’s keep it decent.

Bill Griffith, Zippy the Pinhead:

Only one of my characters has a middle name—Mr. The Toad. I added the “The” to both distinguish him from the “Mr. Toad” in the children’s classic, “Wind in the Willows” and because it sounds haughtier. Kind of like “The Donald”, but way before Trump’s moniker became well-known.

Terri Libenson, The Pajama Diaries:

Middle names are my middle name! My main character’s name, Jill, is my middle name (I always joke that “Terri Jill” sounds like a hog call). The character Amy’s middle name is “Samantha,” same as my older daughter’s. And the character, Jess, has my younger daughter’s middle name, Jessica. I like to think I’m honoring our family’s legacy…or maybe I’m just unable to come up with original names.

Ray Billingsley, Curtis

I have always gone through great lengths and many different versions when it comes to giving any of my characters a name. I write them down, put them next to sketches of the characters and often say them out loud. Once they seem to fit, the character is christened and with any hopes, the name will also predict their place in the strip. This can take days. I may even lightly browse a telephone book for some inspiration.

In terms of middle names, only a few of the characters in my strip even have them. In most cases the aren’t really necessary. But, indeed, for one character, a middle name became the most important. Often, people will ask just how did I come up with the name for the title-character Curtis. He and I share a close-knit connection. We know each other very well.

Actually, he and I are a lot closer than most readers realize. Curtis is MY middle name. I don’t know why I was named that by my parents. I mean, I’m not named after any relative that I know off. No grandparent or distant uncle or cousin. It’s just what they gave me. After my very first sketch of him, I followed my usual procedures, and threw a lot of names towards him. But nothing seemed to fit. All the names in consideration just didn’t feel right to me. Allen, Kevin, Mitchell and Michael were strong contenders but were all tossed aside. I needed some name that was different.

For some reason, “Curtis” just seemed to fit this little fellow. A nice name but somewhat rough around the edges, and highly mischievous. I gave him my middle name and it became his first name, and for the most part he’s stolen it away from me. So when you see a Sunday page, know that you are reading my entire name. I didn’t plan it that way, but that’s the way it all worked out.

Jim Borgman, Zits:

Jeremy’s middle name is Michael, which we didn’t know until a reader recently informed us. Sure enough, a strip from the late 1990s shows Mom calling him by his full name, as moms sometimes do when they’re in Full Reprimand Mode. I don’t think we’ve ever used his middle name again.