On the simplicity of villainy.
Yesterday’s page had quite an impact with you guys! Comments we received about Black Hole Bill’s behavior were very colorful. “He was the bottom of the barrel, but now he’s below the barrel” and something along the lines of “he’s just a scum-sucking void of humanity” were among two of my favorites. We were delighted to receive such reactions because 1) getting a reaction is one of the great joys of making a comic and 2) it really drove the point home that Black Hole Bill is absolutely and truly a villain. Not a scoundrel. Not an anti-hero. He’s a bad guy.
I love bad guys. I don’t mean that I find them more interesting or fun to write than heroes. I mean I love the purpose a good old-fashioned “bad guy” serves. No tragic background. No sympathetic goals. Just a bad person. The best heroes are defined by their villains, and the worse acts of villainy committed the more heroic it is to try to prevent or undo them. Danica, who is known to get attached to robots and name inanimate objects, would have been horrified to see what Black Hole Bill did to his loyal steed. And she’s already pretty mad at him!
I feel that the misunderstood villain with the tragic and/or sympathetic past is very popular nowadays to the point where it’s assumed that every antagonist is a sympathetic character deep down, and that old-fashioned “bad guys” are all one-dimensional characters. Old-fashioned bad guys are admittedly simpler to write, but simple does not mean stupid. Emperor Palpatine is my favorite old-fashioned bad guy. His motivations were not complex, and his reasons for manipulating and murdering his way to the top were not sympathetic. He was ambitious, lusted for power, and pure evil, and that simplicity just worked in classic Star Wars.
Sometimes you just need a selfish asshole to be your villain, and making things more complicated than that would just muck things up.