Netflix's Sandman 'Constantine' pronunciation debate was settled by DC comics decades ago

Jenna Coleman as Johanna Constantine and Tom Sturridge as Dream in The Sandman
(Image credit: Netflix)

Netflix's adaptation of The Sandman premiered Friday, August 5, and as soon as Jenna Coleman made her first appearance as Johanna Constantine in episode 2, 'Imperfect Hosts,' fans began questioning something important: the pronunciation of the character's last name.

Created by writer Neil Gaiman as a tribute to Alan Moore's John Constantine, AKA Hellblazer, Lady Johanna Constantine is a fan-favorite character from The Sandman comics which was co-created by Gaiman, Sam Kieth, and Mike Dringenberg, and ran for 75 issues between 1988 and 1996. 

In the Netflix series, we see two incarnations of her: the modern-day Johanna, a talented necromancer and an occult adventuress for hire, and her 18th-century relative, who approached Dream hoping for the gift of immortality.

And every time she is referred to by name, 'Constantine' is pronounced with the last syllable rhyming with 'time.' For many fans, this has reopened the debate about which pronunciation is correct: 'ConstanTEEN' or 'ConstanTINE.'

But the debate has been settled in DC comic book canon for decades.

a panel from Swamp Thing #73 (1988) (Image credit: DC)

In October 2021, Gaiman himself tweeted about the pronunciation, writing, "In the comics he pronounced it Constantyne and people who pronounced it Constanteen either did it through ignorance or to tease him (like Mad Hettie). On TV and films it's the other way around."

In a follow-up tweet, he shared a panel from Swamp Thing #73 (1988), written and penciled by Rick Veitch, inked by Alfredo Alcala, colored by Tatjana Wood, and lettered by John Costanza, as well as a panel from Hellblazer #40 (1991), written by Jamie Delano, illustrated and colored by Dave McKean, and lettered by Gaspar Saladino, in which the name is sung to rhyme with 'design.'

a panel from Hellblazer #40 (1991)

a panel from Hellblazer #40 (1991) (Image credit: DC)

Letterer Jim Campbell even jumped in to confirm that Alan Moore pronounced it 'ConstanTINE,' tweeting, "I spoke to Alan Moore about Swamp Thing at a signing, back in the mists of history when he still did such things, and he *absolutely* pronounces it ConstanTINE not ConstanTEEN."

So, there you have it. Despite years of differentiation between comics and screen, Johanna Constantine's appearance in Netflix's The Sandman has finally united and corrected the pronunciation of her name.

Don't miss the comic book origins of the Sandman's Dream Vortex explained.

Samantha Puc
Editor, Newsarama

Samantha Puc (she/they) is an editor at Newsarama and an avid comics fan. Their writing has been featured on Refinery29, Bitch Media, them., The Beat, The Mary Sue, and elsewhere. She is currently pursuing a Master of Fine Arts degree in creative nonfiction at The New School.