In every installment of “If I Pass This Way Again,” we look at odd comic book plot points that were rarely (sometimes NEVER!) mentioned again after they were first introduced.
My pal Fraser wanted to know what the deal was with how Black Panther’s name, T’Challa, is pronounced. This is an interesting one because there is a very famous (infamous?) issue that confused the whole topic, and it’s an issue that was written by a guy who pronounced T’Challa’s name two different ways!
Don McGregor was the writer of the “Black Panther” feature in “Jungle Action” in the mid-1970s. It was an excellent series, where he was paired by some great artists like Rich Buckler, Billy Graham and Klaus Janson. Anyhow, in “Jungle Action” #6, T’Challa’s love interest, the American social worker Monica Lynne, walks in and jokes with T’Challa (not knowing that one of his people had just been killed)…
Obviously, calling him “T’Charlie” only makes sense if “T’Challa” uses a T that you pronounce. So it basically IS “T’Charlie” just with “Alla” at the end instead of “Arlie.”
That’s the official pronunciation of Black Panther’s name. Here‘s Kevin Feige talking about him in a featurette and he pronounces the T in “T’Challa” (they also do in the movie itself, but I wasn’t able to find a clip with someone saying his name).
However, McGregor caused years of confusion thirteen issues later in “Jungle Action” #19 (art by Billy Graham and Bob McLeod), Panther gives a guide to how to say his name…
Of course, as you might have noticed, it makes absolutely zero sense for Panther to say, “T’Challa” and the other guy say, “Ta-Challa?” only for the Panther to say that you don’t pronounce the T, since the guy wouldn’t have said “Ta-Challa” if Panther had just said “Challa.” No one mishears another person that poorly.
This pronunciation has confused people for years (Bob Almond once said that Christopher Priest followed McGregor’s take and personally didn’t pronounce the T himself, and Priest once used that pronunciation in a Marvel Comics Presents story featuring the Panther) but it is pretty clearly just a case of one guy making a decision that almost everyone else has decided to ignore.
So there ya go, Fraser! Thanks for writing in about this! If anyone else has a suggestion for a future “If I Pass This Way Again”, drop me a line at email@example.com!
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