Names matter. For Romeo and Juliet, their surnames meant they were screwed. For those of us on X-MEN:TAS who were trying to adapt a massive universe of preexisting characters, it was a challenge. How do you feature a character whose name grates on you or seems inappropriate? Some characters just sound wrong to your ear. It could be that you grew up knowing three idiots all named Fred. It could be a favorite movie character whose name you never wanted to sully (“Start the ball, Tector…”). Marvel comics creators were world-class at coming up with evocative names for their seemingly endless universe of characters, but “Strong Guy?” (Head writer Mark Edens hated that one.) I had an aversion to a character we never used because, to my ear, it just sounded goofy. It was the dragon Fin Fang Foom (see below). The fierce creature you see here would look great in animation. But I couldn’t imagine our characters saying his name out loud with a straight face. Oh, well, there were plenty of others. Which brings me around to a name almost as goofy as the fictional “Foom,” but which was absolutely real. Today, King Bhumibol of Thailand died (see lower image). He had been king for SEVENTY YEARS. My late father used to tell my sister Karen and me bedtime stories 50 years ago, some of which starred a mysterious character from the Orient named “King Bhumibol.” To our young ears, the name sounded like “BOOMY-BALL,” and its sound delighted us. We both assumed he had made such a fantastical name up; later, as adults, we discovered to our surprise that our strangely-named, legendary king was very real. But that wasn’t the point. In the fairy tales our dad told us, in his gentle voice, the name sounded right. King Boomy-ball fit. Today, as His Majesty passes, I thank him for that.
FIN FANG FOOM
KING BHUMIBOL (aka Boomy-Ball)