Monday, September 28, 2009

The Federal Maximum Bob Act

The was a point in the mid-1980s that the DC Comics staff of about 100 people included five men named Bob: Bob Greenberger, Bob LeRose, Bob Kahan, Bhob Stewart, and yours truly. As you might surmise, it caused confusion if someone said, "I was talking to Bob." But we came up with a way to differentiate ourselves with the use of nicknames. Greenberger became "Greenie" or "Bobby"; LeRose was "Bobby Lee"; Kahan was "Kahan!" (often yelled as Captain Kirk did it in the movie); Stewart was called "Bee-hob" (there was a reason he spelled his name that way and I may have heard it, but I don't recall it now); and I was BobRo.

And then Bob Wayne got hired to work in the Marketing Department.

Well, this was also the period when Robyn McBryde and I were the unofficial company morale officers and often ran one crazy event or another. One afternoon we celebrated Loud Shirt Day and had a contest for the "best" one. ("Wear the shirt your Great Aunt Edna gave you as a gift the week after she went blind.") We held a wedding of two of the production department staffers on another. Adding a new Bob to the staff proved to be fodder for yet another morale event.

We announced that hiring Mr. Wayne had placed DC in the position of violating the Federal Maximum Bob Act, which states that a company cannot have more than one person named Bob for every twenty people on staff. As DC had about 100 staffers at the time, we had maxed out with the five Bobs we already had. Therefore, we had to rename him and gave the staff the opportunity to come up with his new name.

(As it turns out, every company I've worked for since has violated the Federal Maximum Bob Act at some point. Preload had two Bobs for most of the time I was there, but added a third one in late 2005; I left in 2006, before the authorities were alerted. Accordant had a preponderance of Bobs. And we had two Bobs at CRI for about five months, but the other one left.)

There were quite a few entries and the one we finally decided on was "Ignatius," or "Iggy" for short. Bob objected when he heard the choice, but we told him that since he was in violation of the law, he had no say in the matter.

Although we rarely, if ever, called him "Iggy" in direct conversation, pretty much everyone referred to him that way in the third person. So if someone said, "BobRo and Greenie had a meeting with Iggy about the promo poster," you knew which three Bobs were involved.

Of the six Bobs, Mr. Wayne is only one working at DC today. There are still some people there who know and refer to him as Iggy, causing newer staffers to wonder just where the nickname came from (especially since Bob himself never mentions it). If someone asks, they may be told of the Federal Maximum Bob Act, but it is just as likely the answer will be. "I don't know. We always called him that."

What is perhaps most amusing about this story is that Robert is his middle name and that he uses Bob because he does not like his first name at all. But don't worry, Iggy, I'm not going to tell anybody what it is...


  1. I always wondered why his parents didn't call him Bruce... but maybe they actually did? And that's WHY he works at DC?
    (I do know that Devin Grayson's name wasn't that at birth, but that she changed it because of her love for Robin...)
    Jen (yes, another one. There are actually too many of us out there, I think.) in Oz.

  2. No, his first name is not Bruce, but that would have also caused confusion since his boss at the time was Bruce Bristow.

  3. Actually, the "h" is silent. It was Helfer who began saying it as two syllables. The name began when I needed a signature for the weekly cartoon I did for my college newspaper. The origin was science fiction fandom. As I recall, during the 1930s, someone saw the "rhum" spelling of rum (as in "Rhum Boogie") and wrote in a fanzine about drinking "bheer". That led to "Ghod" and then, I think, the fannish god Ghu.

    Bhob @ Potrzebie

  4. Mr. Bhob Stewart,

    Speaking as a Clevelander, and fan of the Cleveland Indians - whose third baseman is Jhonny Peralta - I see no prhoblem here. :)

    I remain,
    Eric L. Sofer
    The Silver Age Fogey