I love making up story characters, especially bad guys (or gals). There’s something deeply satisfying about coming up with someone who’s truly rotten to the core and watching them come alive on the page.
When I’m looking for evil inspiration, my first port of call is the kids’ Disney video collection. If you haven’t watched many Disney’s animated classics lately you might find that surprising, but over the years, those clever folks have brought us plenty of excellent examples of how to create a great villain.
I’m a big Walt Disney fan myself, which is just as well since my autistic daughters play the movies pretty much around the clock. One of the reasons I enjoy them so much is because they so often have such deliciously evil characters.
Remember Snow White’s evil stepmother, as voiced by Lucille La Verne in the 1937 animated classic which rocketed Disney studios into the public eye? How about the delightfully wicked Ursula from The Little Mermaid (1989), voiced by Part Carroll (to my mind one of the best evil voices ever)?
It’s hard to pick a favorite Disney villain. If I had to choose, then Captain Hook (Hans Conried) from 1953’s Peter Pan would be in the running, as would Professor Ratigan (Vincent Price) from Basil the Great Mouse Detective (1986) – in any event, Ratigan wins the ‘Best evil mastermind song’ contest hands down – but I think my all-time favorite is Betty Lou Gerson’s, Cruella De Vil, from One Hundred and One Dalmations (1961), based on the novel by Dorothy (Dodie) Smith.
There’s something wonderfully horrible about Cruella’s cold-hearted quest to make fur coats out of 99 cute, lovable Dalmation puppies. She’ll always have a place in my heart, though I wouldn’t let her within a mile of the little rabbits which live in our back yard.
So here’s to Disney: Thanks for inspiring me with all those great bad guys (and gals). Over the top, wantonly wicked and callously cruel, the way all good villains should be!
How about you?
Where do you look for villainous inspiration?