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Sometimes an artist who is known for a particular area of expertise gets tired of the same old thing and want to try something new. Most of the time, these creative people sign their own work, satisfied to ride their own coat-tails. Other times, the artist feels that they need to hide their actual identity behind a new name.
There are several reasons for this. Sometimes, it's just that the artist wants to succeed or fail on the merits of the new work and wants to avoid the impression that they are simply riding their previous fame to new glory. Sometimes the new area is questionable or not seen as "up to standard". And other times they just want to avoid squicking their own fanbase.
This is a different phenomenon from simply using a pen name or a stage name, in that the person in question is already known, and successful, by another identity. For example, Marshall Mathers issuing records as Eminem is still the same old rap music; but if Eminem used the name "Bohunk Anthrax" do a country album, it would count as Same Face, Different Name.
- Stan Lee is the pseudonym of Stanley (creative, eh) Martin Lieber. His original plan was to use Stan Lee for comics, and Lieber for more serious stuff. Some sixty years later, he's still Stan the Man. He eventually officially changed his name to Stan Lee.
- Mike Esposito did inking work for Marvel Comics under the name Mike Demeo because he was under contract at DC at the time.
- Jean Giraud first worked under the name Gir, becoming best known for Lieutenant Blueberry. Later he did more esoteric stuff as Moebius.
- Jazz clarinettist Wally Fawkes had a second career as a satirical cartoonist and artist of the British newspaper strip Flook under the pen(cil) name Trog.
- John Wagner and Alan Grant wrote several stories for 2000AD under a variety of pseudonyms. Particularly notably was Wagner's alias of Keef Ripley, which was used to cover up The Reveal at the end of The Dead Man.
- Ian Gibson also did 2000AD art credited as 'Emberton'.
- Takeshi Kitano uses his real name when directing, but uses the stage name Beat Takeshi for his onscreen appearances. The name is derived from his early days as one half of a Boke and Tsukkomi Routine.
- Gypsy Rose Lee made a few minor film appearances under her real name, Louise Hovick, since film studios in the early years of the Hays Code wanted not to be associated with striptease.
- Steven Soderbergh uses the pseudonyms Peter Andrews when he serves as cinematographer on his films, and Mary Ann Bernard for editing credits; the pseudonyms are based on his parents' names.
"My policy is to have my name on a movie only once. Having your name once increases the impact of that credit because I think every time you put your name up there, you're actually diluting it."
- The Coen Brothers use Roderick Jaynes for their editing credit on their films. "Jaynes" received an Oscar nomination for Fargo.
- The Disney Company does this with "Touchstone", a production name used for releasing quirkier films like The Nightmare Before Christmas.
- Mathematician Charles Dodgson published many books under his own name, all dealing with various mathematical subjects. But when it came time for him to write fantasy novels, he used the name "Lewis Carroll", the name by which he is far better known today, making this trope Older Than Radio.
- Sometimes this sort of thing can get you in trouble. There is an unconfirmed story that Queen Victoria had been so taken by Alice in Wonderland that she immediately demanded a copy of the author's next book... which turned out to be a mathematics textbook. To coin a phrase, she was not amused.
- Stephen King published four books as "Richard Bachman", because he wanted to see whether his success "was due to talent or luck". Some years later, he revived the Bachman name for The Regulators, an Alternate Continuity version of sorts to his simultaneously released Desperation. One famous review of Thinner said that "This is the kind of book Stephen King would write if he could write."
- Anne Rice writes her "dark romance" vampire novels under her own name, and wrote non-supernatural adult fiction under the name Anne Rampling. In addition, she originally published the S&M themed "Sleeping Beauty" series under the name A.N. Roquelaure.
- Not really her own name. Her own name is Howard Allen O'Brien. Apparently, her mom wanted to name their child after the father, and didn't bother about the gender much.
- Novelists Frederic Dannay and Manfred Bennington Lee both had successful careers writing "serious" fiction in their own careers. When they collaborated to write detective stories, they did so as "Ellery Queen".
- Nora Roberts writes detective fiction as "J.D. Robb".
- Dr. Seuss wrote a number of books for older children under the name "Theo Lesieg". His real name was Theodore Geisel, making this a Sdrawkcab Name.
- Geraldine Halls wrote non-genre fiction as "Geraldine Halls" and mystery/suspense novels as "Charlotte Jay".
- Ruth Rendell wrote as Barbara Vine when intending to write fiction that was darker, more psychological, and less procedural. Unlike many of the other writers on this page, there was no intent to conceal her identity. The 'Barbara Vine' novels are a distinct genre in the Ruth Rendell oeuvre; they are generally narrated from a first person perspective, take place over a longer period of time than her regular novels and chart the adventures of a number of characters, and are much more languidly paced than the 'Rendell' novels. Putting 'writing as Barbara Vine' on a novel is essentially the same as putting 'An Inspector Wexford Novel' on them; it tells the reader exactly what to expect.
- Agatha Christie wrote several romantic novels under the name Mary Westmacott.
- The writer born Salvatore Lombino wrote his "serious" novels and screenplays as Evan Hunter (which he legally changed his name to) and crime fiction as Ed McBain. He co-wrote the 2000 novel Candyland with himself. The Other Wiki lists at least five other pseudonyms he used from time to time.
- Daniel Handler has written some rather explicit novels under his own name, and A Series of Unfortunate Events as Lemony Snicket-- although the latter also involves an elaborate Literary Agent Hypothesis played out to some degree both in the books and in Real Life (with Handler presented as Snicket's representative).
- Jorge Luis Borges and Adolfo Bioy Casares published several books of crime fiction under the name of H. Bustos Domecq.
- Scottish author Iain Banks writes literary fiction and non-fiction as "Iain Banks". His science fiction is written as "Iain M. Banks", in order to make it easier to differentiate his works.
- L. Frank Baum wrote the Oz books and other whimsical children's books under his own name, and many books in other genres under pseudonyms, including sentimental novels under a female name.
- Mystery writer Paul Doherty (mostly historical) has written many series, and some standalone novels, under many different names (the most different from his own may be Ann Duthkas).
- Gardner Fox, the creator of The Flash, the Justice Society of America, and the Justice League of America, wrote romance novels under the name Lynna Cooper.
- Peter O'Donnell, the creator of Modesty Blaise, wrote romance novels as Madeleine Brent.
- Michael Hardcastle wrote books about football for boys. He also wrote books for girls about horses, but under a woman's name so they wouldn't think the books were aimed at boys.
- The young children's author Martin Waddell wrote his earlier YA books, which often have female protagonists, under the name Catherine Sefton. He now writes YA under his own name as well.
- John Wyndham used his first two names (rather than his surname, Harris) for most of his (generally apocalyptic or post-apocalyptic) work, but when he wrote The Outward Urge, a space exploration story, he used "John Wyndham & Lucas Parkes", Lucas and Parkes being two of his other given names. He had five-- he also used the fifth (as "John Beynon") for some early work.
- Heroic Fantasy writer David Gemmell wrote one crime thriller as Ross Harding because he was trying something different and didn't want his readers to mistakenly think it would be the same genre.
- J.K. Rowling once stated that she considered publishing future works under a different name, mainly to separate the new work from Harry Potter, but knew the press would figure it out in seconds.
- Madeleine L'Engle once tried to publish a book under a different name to see if, since A Wrinkle in Time, it was her name selling the books. No publisher would pick it up.
- On a similar note, somebody tried getting some of Jane Austen's novels published under different names. None of the publishers accepted them or gave plagiarism as the reason for rejection. Makes you wonder if the only thing classics have going for them is the fact that they're considered classics.
- Science fiction writer Cordwainer Smith was a noted foreign policy expert, under his real name, Paul M.A. Linebarger.
- Inverted with Charles Dickens. He published his first works as "Boz." Years later, he went back to using his real name.
- Margaret Astrid Lindholm Ogden wrote her early work as Megan Lindholm and later work as Robin Hobb, recognizing that she was "working in a different slice of the genre." New short stories by Lindholm still occasionaly see print, and an upcoming collection features stories written under both names.
- Hungarian novelist Jenő Rejtő wrote most of his humorous adventure novels under the pen name P. Howard. His more serious western novels were written under the pen name Gibson Lavery.
- French author Roman Gary's books got lower reviews as time went on, and people thought he was losing his touch. His response was to start publishing them under the name of Emil Ajar, who later won awards for his books.
- Joyce Carol Oates has published some thrillers under the names "Rosamond Smith" and "Lauren Kelly."
- Harry Turtledove has written works under several pseudonyms: some of his earliest works were published as Eric G. Iverson, and purely historical novels as H. N. Turtletaub. The Scepter of Mercy trilogy were published as Dan Chernenko, then repackaged after The Reveal as "Harry Turtledove writing as Dan Chernenko."
- German sociologist Horst Bosetzky became a very successful author of crime novels writing under the pseudonym -ky.
- German writer Erich Kästner was blacklisted by the Nazis and forbidden to write, but was granted special permission to write the screenplay of the movie Münchhausen (1943), where he was credited as Berthold Bürger, a Shout-Out to Gottfried August Bürger (1747-1794), writer of the original book of the baron's adventures.
- Edward Gorey frequently used anagrams of his name (Ogdred Weary, Dogear Wryde, Mrs. Regera Dowdy, etc.) as pseudonyms, though given his distinctive artistic style these were probably more for Gorey's amusement than actual disguise.
- Seanan McGuire writes Fantasy under her real name, and her Zombie Apocalypse books under the name Mira Grant.
- Writers Rob Grant and Doug Naylor use their own names when writing their television shows. When they ventured into novel writing, they did so as "Grant Naylor".
- They were also credited as "Grant Naylor" when they directed about half of the episodes of Series V. Funnily enough, in those same episodes their writing credits remained separate.
- Ronnie Barker (one of The Two Ronnies) wanted to have a go at writing for a show he was appearing in called The Frost Report. In order that his writing would be considered on its own merits; he sent in his sketches under the name of 'Gerald Wiley'. He continued to do all his writing under a number of different pseudonyms.
- Singer/songwriter Carole King once made a very unobtrusive acting appearance in a Mary Tyler Moore Show episode, billed under her married name of 'Carole Larkey'.
- Look up any electronic dance music artist. Chances are, they've released material different from their regular style under a different name. Some prominent examples:
- Moby released some of his Ambient music under the name Voodoo Child.
- Early on, Aphex Twin supplemented his ambient and breakcore albums with techno releases under the name AFX. Years later, he returned to producing acid techno under the AFX name.
- Joey Youngman started using the name Wolfgang Gartner to separate his newfound love for electro house from his tech house. Inverted in that the Gartner name was the one that he got famous with.
- Famed drum and bass artist Spor releases electro house under the name of Feed Me.
- Country singer Garth Brooks released an album of pop/rock music under the name "Chris Gaines". Brooks created an entire life history for "Gaines", including fake girlfriends, life tragedy and a record of "previous album releases".
- Which would have culminated in a movie called The Lamb, had the Gaines album not bombed.
- In a 1999 episode of Saturday Night Live, the host was Garth Brooks, and the musical guest was...Chris Gaines.
- Classic Tin Pan Alley songwriter Vernon Duke wrote classical music under his real name, Vladimir Dukelsky.
- Naoki Maeda, best known for writing a lot of the music in Dance Dance Revolution, has dozens of aliases that he uses for different styles and genres of music.
- Another Bemani artist, Takayuki Ishikawa, better known as dj TAKA, also uses different aliases for different styles, such as Lion MUSASHI for house music, D.J. Setup for psychedelic music, and D.J. Amuro for classical music.
- Tony Bennett paints under his birth last name of Benedetto.
- During the heydays of the NES, Nintendo imposed a policy on third-party publishers that limited the number of games they could publish in North America and Europe to only five games a year. Konami created the Ultra Games division in America in order to get around this limit and localize more games than they were allowed to publish. In Europe, Konami formed Palcom Software label for the same reasons, although they also published the European versions of certain Parodius and Twinbee games which were never released in America.
- Acclaim used the LJN, Flying Edge and Arena brands for much the same reason.
- Adam Cadre entered his seminal Interactive Fiction work Photopia into the 1998 IF-Contest under the pseduonym "Opal O'Donnel", out of worry that his earlier sex-comedy IF-Work I-0 might color the expectations of players.
- for "Goddamn"