TNB Night Owl – What’s In A Name? (Cartoon Department)

The characters are world-famous, household names.  But where did those names come from?

Bullwinkle J. Moose debuted in the cartoon feature Rocky and His Friends, in 1959.  By 1961, he’d taken the spotlight from the titular flying squirrel and the cartoon was renamed The Bullwinkle Show.

From the Berkeley Plaques web page:

Ward launched the immortal Rocky and Bullwinkle show in partnership with Bill Scott, an animator who also provided voices for the moose and many other characters. The name Bullwinkle was inspired by a local auto dealership at College and Claremont owned by Clarence Bullwinkel.

Reportedly, Ward simply found the man’s name hilarious.


Superman is known throughout the world both under that name and as Clark Kent.  The alter-ego that now defines a quiet, forgettable demeanor that hides incredible power didn’t start out associated with mediocrity, however.  From ScreenRant:

The character of Clark Kent is named after the two biggest actors of the day, Clark Gable and Kent Taylor. Clark Gable was referred to as the “King of Hollywood”, and is one of the most consistent box-office draws in movie history. Kent Taylor is less well-known, but he had one of the most prolific careers in early Hollywood, starring in over 110 movies.


Dilbert is the creation of Scott Adams, an engineer stuck working for a pointy-haired boss and dealing with the hazards of workplace life.  He’s spawned a television series, a bestselling book on business philosophy (The Dilbert Principle) and has decorated just about every type of object imaginable.  Dilbert’s name was created by one of Adams’ friends.

Except it wasn’t.  Scott’s friend had been, years before, a fan of Robert Osborn’s work of the 1940s: (Cartoonbrew)

He was approaching forty years old when he began drawing cartoons for the Navy, his first major body of work. He created between 2,000-3,000 drawings for posters and military training booklets, many of them featuring Dilbert, a goofball pilot who did everything incorrectly.

The mix-up was later admitted, though it was stated to be unintentional.


Question of the night: what’s your favorite comic strip(s)?


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About AlienMotives 1991 Articles
Ex-Navy Reactor Operator turned bookseller. Father of an amazing girl and husband to an amazing wife. Tired of willful political blindness, but never tired of politics. Hopeful for the future.