Want to Create Great Villains? Look Inside Your Hero!

by Marshall Geddes

Inside every hero the seed of a perfect villain lies dormant.

For every great hero there must be a great evil to oppose them.

What would Batman be without the Joker around to make him crazy?

What would Professor X need the X-men for, if Magneto wasn’t there to make fun of his thinning hair

What makes a story…the hero or their struggle?

I think they’re both important, but the struggle is what keeps me coming back for more.  I believe this to be true, not just in comics but in life as well.

What makes you great? What are you most proud of?  The things that come easily to you, or the things you struggle to overcome? What do you struggle with? Who are the people or ideals that make your blood boil?

In comic books, SUPER VILLAINS are most often the source of this blood-boiling evil, and struggling.  Is there a connection between our own problems and the super-villains we love to hate? If there is, how does this relate to the creation the perfect villains for our stories?


One of my all time favourite villains, Baron Von Evilstein, is not very well known, but I love em! Doesn’t his face just ooze evil? This image is from Jack Kirby’s DEMON NO. 11. Does anyone know if this evil scientist ever appeared again?

Let me start with one of my very own struggles; creating a unique villain for the five-page story I wrote for issue #2 of Holmes Incorporated, “Green Blooded Murder”.

Before attempting this comic, I had never really written a story, other than in high school, so this was a brand new experience for me.  However, with the inspiration of my peers and editors, and the help of some great friends,  the mystery of my story came together quite quickly. There was still one thing missing, though… an ENEMY!

"The Green Blooded Murder" - Holmes Incorporated #2. Story and Pincils by Marshall Geddes. Inks by J.S. Longstreet.

I spent a lot of time watching old TV episodes of Columbo and Sherlock Holmes movies, hoping for the perfect villain to just come to me, but it didn’t.  As much as I enjoyed those episodes, they did very little to help me.  So, I decided to focus my time on the main sleuth of my story, Edgar Holmes II, a rich 22-year-old genius, with good looks and a huge ego… what’s not to hate?

That was really all I knew about him, until I did an exercise that Ty Templeton, the senior editor of Holmes inc., taught me in his writing courses.  The exercise consists of fifteen questions that an author should answer about each of their characters, before writing their dialogue.  Answering these questions really helped me to understand Edgar.

I asked myself questions like, “What would Edgar sound like?”, or, “How would he act if I met him?”  I wondered if I would even like him.

From here creating a villain was easy, or should I say “It was like taking candy from a baby!”  Once I understood Edgar, all I had to do was ask myself questions such as:

Why would I want to be a super-villain?

What would make me hate Edgar?

What weaknesses does he have that I could use against him?

What aspects of his personality would bother me, or other people?

What are his strengths?

How can I turn those against him?

These were some extremely rough sketches I did when I was starting to visualize how my villain would look.

I also tried to put myself into a super – villain “state of mind.”  I found this very useful, as it allowed me to gain valuable insight into my character’s motivations.  I was able to step away from my hero’s P.O.V.  and see things through the eyes of an evildoer. This also made me realize that since most villains and criminals are usually eager to justify themselves and give away their entire plan. They probably don’t think they’re doing anything wrong but rather doing what they believe is right.


This is just what worked for me but, hopefully, it can help some of you with your own stories and doesn’t inspire anyone to become a fulltime SUPER-VILLAIN, although I do encourage everyone to TRY LETTING THEIR INNER DEMONS OUT… well, at least on paper anyway.  Real life DEMONS are a whole other Issue!

Get it? … like comic book issues, HA! Their now that you’ve had your dose of lame comic book humour, it is time for me to sign off, but before you go, how about  telling me how you create villains? What are your tricks? Who are your favourites?

OBO and out!

Your BONUS Baron Von Evilstein image by Jack Kirby. Can someone get more villainous than this!?

Posted on July 13, 2011, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Grant Morrison needs to revive Baron Von Evilstein, stat.

  1. Pingback: LAST WEEK on the ‘net | Ty Templeton's ART LAND!!

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