Thursday, May 31, 2012

What's in a Name?

Since the release of SGT. JANUS, SPIRIT-BREAKER, I’ve been asked about the origins of the good sergeant’s name – I wish I could say that they are of arcane proportions, but the truth is probably much more mundane.

In all honesty, I don’t fully remember how I came up with it.

I remember jotting down names that came to me while I was imagining the kind of occult hero I wanted to create and, somehow, “Janus” just popped into my head. I’d always like both the sound and look of the name so it went to the top of my list. I knew that it represented the idea of a “two-face,” but it was only later, when I went to dictionary to dig up the etymology, that I found that Janus was the Roman god of gates. More specifically, he oversaw beginnings and transitions.

The gates thing worked great for what I had in mind, so, with a sigh of relief, I had a last name for my hero. But I wouldn’t forget my initial thought of “two-faced” and would build something into the character that truly won’t see fruition until such time as a sequel appears. It’s there, though; deep in the text of SGT. JANUS , SPIRIT-BREAKER, maybe even more so than the “gates” aspect…

One might think it was a logical leap then to christen him with the first name Roman, from the origin of his last name, but it’s really a bit more eclectic than that. He was given the name before I ever discovered that Janus was a Roman god. It was simply kismet once I learned that.

Lemme ‘splain. “Roman” as a first name has always intrigued me, something that goes back to the film ROSEMARY’S BABY for me and the character of Roman Castevet. Now, the actual diabolic nature of Sidney Blackmer’s character doesn’t really have anything to do with it – it’s simply the sound of the name. I don’t know why, but I just really dig it when Ruth Gordon frequently calls out her husband’s name in the move: “Romannn…” See? I told you this was all pretty mundane stuff!

So, then Roman Janus was born. But he still needed a title.

Why? Because characters with military-style titles are cool, man. Always liked them, probably beginning with the real, original Captain Marvel. But, “captain” is overused in fiction, as is “major.” I didn’t want Janus to be as high as a general and lieutenant just didn’t have the ring to it I was looking for, so I went lower on the ranking board and arrived upon sergeant. And seeing as how SGT. PEPPER’S LONELY HEARTS CLUB BAND is one of my most favorite albums of all time, it just clicked with me: Sgt. Roman Janus. Perfect.

And it’s always “Sgt.” unless he’s being referred to without his name, ala “sergeant.”

There you have it, the “mysterious” foundations beneath the newest proto-pulp hero!

Purchase the book here on Amazon and see what exactly is in a name.

All content (c)Jim Beard 2012


  1. I too have always thought Roman is a very cool hero name. Gonna use it one of these days. Ha.

  2. And remember that Roman spelled backwards is Namor (as in Sub-Mariner.)

    And, be careful about referring to Sergeants as "lower ranking." They're what keeps the U.S. and many other military organizations running.

    Bob Kennedy
    Sergeant First Class (Retired)

  3. No slight intended, sarge! Only a literal noting that sergeant is "below" lieutenant, captain, etc. In fact, another reason I chose sergeant was BECAUSE they are the backbone of the services - and Janus is the backbone of defense against the spirit world.

    Thanks so much for commenting here - I sincerely hope you continue to follow us going forward!