Tuesday, 14 February 2017


Image copyright DC COMICS

When I was a teenager, I pronounced DARKSEID's
name as 'Darkseed', not 'Darkside' as JACK KIRBY had
intended.  There are accounts of Jack at comic cons in the '70s
where kids would refer to 'Darkseed' and Jack didn't correct
them, he'd simply pronounce the name the same as they'd
done to avoid embarrassing any of his young fans.

All very laudable, but when I eventually learned how
the baddie's name was meant to be pronounced, I wondered
why Jack hadn't simply spelled the name of the NEW GODS
nemesis as 'DARKSYDE', so as to avoid confusion over how
to say it.  Okay, perhaps 'Darkseid' looks better in print, but if
everyone mispronounces it, it sort of defeats the intention of
calling him that to begin with, don'tcha think?  I'm surprised
DC didn't ask Jack to change the spelling before Dark-
seid's debut in JIMMY OLSEN #134.

I think this was one of the problems with Kirby's DC
output - he needed someone to rein him in from time to
time, and help refine and polish some of his ideas until they
were as good as they can be.  An editor like STAN LEE for
example, whose input was invaluable on Jack's work over at
MARVEL, would have improved the FOURTH WORLD
series of mags no end, and they could well have had a
far longer run than they actually managed.

That's why it took me a while to warm to Jack's new
titles for the Distinguished Competition - the art looked
the same as his Marvel mags, but didn't read the same - not
to begin with anyway.  It took a while to get used to Kirby's
idiosyncratic scripting, and some readers who followed him
over to DC didn't stick around after the first few issues
because the mags just didn't 'read right'.

That's my take on things anyway.  What think the
rest of you Criv-ites?  Why not weigh in with your view
in our captivating and occasionally controversial com-
  ments section?  Nothing beats a good rammy!  


TC said...

When I was 12 and 13, reading DC comics by Kirby, I mentally pronounced it "dark seed." I didn't learn the correct pronunciation until more than twelve years later, when I saw a TV ad for the Super Powers action figures that were based on DC heroes and villains, including "Dark Side."

(Similarly, I was seven or eight when I first read Marvel comics, and I thought that Namor was the "Sub Ma-REE-ner." But, soon afterward, I saw the Marvel Super-Heroes cartoons on TV, where they pronounced it "mariner," as in The Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner.)

I agree that Kirby could have used some editorial supervision to rein him in at times. Even back then, I was annoyed by the way DC treated Kirby like he was their boss, rather than their employee. (It was the same way with Byrne in the 1980's.) It was as if they thought that Kirby was The Genius Who Single-Handedly Made Marvel a Big Success, and Whose Decisions Could Not Be Questioned.

And, even back then, the credits, "Written, Drawn, and Edited By Jack Kirby" seemed kind of silly. Having the writer edit his own story seems to defeat the purpose of having an editor. Or, it's like not having an editor at all. Isn't an editor (or proofreader) supposed to objectively go over the story from a fresh perspective, and correct mistakes? I mean, you can't play on a sports team and also be a referee in the same game at the same time.

Graham said...

My first exposure to Kirby was actually during his 70's tenure with DC. I was a bit late getting into the Fourth World, but really got into it during Kamandi. I thought it was entertaining, but it was obviously designed for my age group at the time (about 11 - 13). When I backtracked to the early Marvels, via the reprints (Marvel's Greatest Comics w/the FF, Marvel Double Feature w/Capt. America, Marvel Spotlight w/Thor), I did notice the difference between a Lee-scripted story and a Kirby-scripted one. The Lee comics read much easier, and the dialogue didn't make me wince nearly as much.

I have since backtracked into the Fourth World series, and I have liked Kirby's stories and concepts, but his dialogue was out of the 40's at times. It wasn't enough to discourage me from following the stories, though. It's amazing how many ideas he was able to come up with constantly.

Rip Jagger said...

I did the same thing. "Darkseed" made sense to me and I used it for a bit until finally getting myself adjusted to "Darkside". I never heard it so I guess I figured it out on my own, but your point is taken. Personally I have the same problem with "Magneto" which I've always said "Magnehto" and not "Magneeto". The movies have changed me on that one.

Rip Off

Kid said...

That's a good point about writers being their own editors, TC. Marvel did a lot of that as well. In DC's case 'though (in the '70s), I believe ('cause I'm sure I read it somewhere) there was an actual group editor who was a sort of overseer on Kirby's (and other writers) material, and who had the final say. If so, he could have done a bit more work on Jack's scripting.


Actually, G, I think Kirby's plethora of ideas was part of the problem. He had so many that he rattled off in machine-gun fashion, that he didn't always give them the attention they deserved. Also, some of the ideas weren't always great, and at times like that he needed an editor to say "Nah, Jack, it needs work," or "I'd forget that one, Jack." One such idea was The Black Racer, who was never used as he should've been (nor very often), and whose costume also looked a bit naff!


I think I was well into adulthood, RJ, when I discovered how to pronounce Darkseid - think I read it in an interview with Jack somewhere. I also pronounced Magneto in the same way you did (and Sub-Mariner the same way TC did), as well as pronouncing The Crimson Dynamo as Dina-mo instead of DynAmo.

B Smith said...

I'd have thought Paul McCartney would have put you right about pronouncing Magneto, the Crimson Dynamo...and even Titanium Man.

(Too bad he didn't do a song about Darkseid and the Sub-Mariner too)

Kid said...

Well, I'd learned how to pronounce them by the time that song came out, BS. In fact, I'd learned how to pronounce them a good long while before I knew how to say Darkseid properly. Incidentally, you may have read my posts featuring 'Bob Billens', who once told me (several years after the single was released) that The Crimson Dynamo referred to DC's Red Tornado. He wasn't happy when I told him it wasn't, 'cos he didn't like being wrong about anything. (I bought the single when it first came out - still got it.)

paul Mcscotty said...

I called him "Darkseed" as well (I think it’s a better name that "Darkside") - I never liked Kirby’s New Gods, OMAC, or Forever People titles and wasn’t that keen on Mr Miracle (until later on into Kirby’s run on the title) however I really liked “Kamandi” and the “Demon” from the very start. I also liked (and not many folk did) the “Eternals” (far more than the “New Gods”) and loved Kirby’s “Black Panther” on his return to Marvel - simple fun stories with a bit of a Kirby edge (warts and all) .

Regarding pronounciation I found (still do) to know how to pronounce some creators names like Bill Sienkiewicz (Sink a vitch?) and Tom Orzechowski (no idea)

Kid said...

Darkseed sounds better to me as well, PM, but as Kirby meant it to be Darkside, he didn't fulfill his intent. He had a rather simple way of naming characters in the New Gods, I thought. Desaad, for example, being a sadist, was rather obviously named. The Black Racer? Okay, it does what it says on the tin, but I thought a lot of his names lacked imagination. As for creators' names, that's anybody's guess I suppose - unless you're a creator.

Colin Jones said...

I still say Sub Mareener, John Bus-cumma and Professor X-avier (it's actually Zavier). But what about Dr. Strange's lady friend, Clea - I always rhymed it with tea but it could be Cleea or Claya or even something else ?

Kid said...

I've heard John Buscema's name pronounced (by Americans) as 'Booscemma', but I say 'Bueseema'. As for Clea, I always assumed it was 'Cleeah', but couldn't say for sure.

paul Mcscotty said...

Based on the actor Steve BuscemI" whose name is similar and is pronounced "Boo-sem-a" I thought big John and Sals name was similarly pronounced ie "Boo- sem- Ah" (with an "AH" as in after a wee sipof nice tean, at the end instead of a stark "A" as in Steve Buscemi)

I always thought "Clea" was pronounced "Clee" (as in Key)

Kid said...

And you may well be right, PM, although 'Clee' doesn't sound like much of a name to me. I'll just call her by her pet name - 'Fido'.

TC said...

I think it's Sin-keh-vetch or Sin-kyeh-vitch, or maybe Sin-keh-witz. And Be-YOO-see-ma.

I assumed Clea was pronounced Clee-ah, with the emphasis on the first syllable.

With the X-Men's arch enemy, I always thought it was Mag-neh-to until I heard the Paul McCartney song. Even now, I'm not certain if it's a question of which is "right" or "wrong." It may just be a matter of British vs. American accents. To-may-to, to-mah-to.

Kid said...

Why can't you Americans just have names like Smith, Jones, and Brown, TC? Everything would be much easier then.

Phil S said...

I never figured out it was dark side until decades later either. Kirby's English as she is written was a difficult read. I don't know DC didn't just use an editor to make it sound like English. I mean he didn't speak like that in real life and most people will tell you they write the same way they speak. I always thought it was Mariner. He's an underwater mariner he's not a submarine. Like wise Magneto is a human magnet not a magneto. Look at me I have the powers of a magneto! Which would mean he needs electricity to work.

Kid said...

Apparently 'though, PS, the word 'mariner' was pronounced 'mareener' by some folks many years ago, and it was considered acceptable. (Or so I once read somewhere.) I think it just depended on which part of the country you came from. I'm not sure that most people do actually write the same way they speak (although it depends on what you're writing I grant you). In the same way that many people have 'telephone voices', there's usually a difference between how they write and how they speak. ('Though that may be in decline since the advent of mobile texting, but I don't call that writing.)

Davi said...

I figured out the right way to pronounce Darkseid from a Lois Lane story called The Dark Side Of The Justice League in Lois Lane 111. This was on of several Lois stories which utilised Kirby characters (The Black Racer, Morgan Edge, Desaad, and Darkseid himself) and concepts (this particular story featured miniature clones of the JLA which were, if I remember rightly, produced by the evil version of The Project.

As to so many of us, including me, mispronouncing Darkseid, well, it's not Jack's fault if we weren't familiar with German.

Kid said...

It's not Jack's fault that I can't speak any other foreign language either, but it seems odd to pick a name that most readers wouldn't know how to pronounce. It was like an 'in-joke' that readers weren't in on. I still find myself calling him 'Darkseed' before correcting myself.

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