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Saturday 12 March 2022
Walt Duncan has been an out-of-touch orthodontist since Zits debuted in 1997. At the time, "Walter" had fallen to 273rd in popularity among U.S. baby boy names, according to the Social Security Administration. So, yeah, "old guy" names.
The peak for "Walter" in the United States was 1914, when it cracked the top ten for the only time in the 20th century. (Per ssa.gov: "In that year, the number of births is 8962, which represents 1.312 percent of total male births in 1914.") Perhaps not coincidentally, the most famous Walter in newspaper comics is Walt Wallet of Gasoline Alley, who debuted in 1918.
The lowest point for "Walter" babies was 393rd (0.035%) in 2008, but has rebounded since. I would presume that's the influence of Breaking Bad's Walter White, who debuted that year, but the name "Louis" has followed a very similar trend, also peaking in 1914 (at 20th, 0.8%) before dead-cat bouncing in 2009 (0.042%). Is there a mid-aughts Louis I've forgotten about?
For the record, there were 2,358 "Walter"s born in 1975, representing 0.145% of all children that year, ranking 112th overall. On a personal note, there were 39,588 "James," or 2.439%, 4th overall. "James" has never fallen out of the top 20 since the SSA started keeping records. If there was a Venn diagram of such things, "James Walter" would represent the popular kid being forced to hang out with a four-eyed comic book nerd.
I would definitely read a comic strip about that.