Valerie Estelle Frankel,
Joss Whedon's Names: The Deeper Meanings behind Buffy, Angel, Firefly, Dollhouse, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Cabin in the Woods, The Avengers, Doctor Horrible, In Your Eyes, Comics & More
(LitCrit Press, 2014)

Passion? Or obsession?

Either way, Valerie Frankel has devoted a heck of a lot of time and effort into delving into the origins of the names for major and minor characters in pretty much all of Joss Whedon's creative efforts. That's movies, television, comics and more, so be prepared for a lot of names.

Frankel doesn't have Whedon's word on these names, and she doesn't know what thinking went specifically into their selection (with a few exceptions, where she was able to cite interviews). Rather, she explores the meanings of the names, their associations with history, mythology and literature, the general mood they evoke -- basically, she breaks every name down to its atomic level to suggest what those characters stand for in their creator's imagination.

So, whether your passion is Buffy Summers, Malcolm Reynolds, Melinda May or Doctor Horrible, Frankel has her theories about how those names evolved and what they say about their characters' various traits. It's not a definitive work, but it's definitely interesting reading.

book review by
Tom Knapp

28 February 2015

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