It’s nearly Halloween, which means that fictional bad guys will be out in the streets in full force from now until Monday (and likely even longer). If you’re not sure who’s who among the villainous greats, we’ve got you covered: Kim Newman, whose newest novel Professor Moriarty: Hound of the D’Ubervilles hit stands this month, is pretty much the authority on literary villains. As Newman explains, “To be a great villain, it’s not enough just to be thoroughly evil – you have to be entertaining with it. A certain panache helps, especially for villains who fall into the category of arch-nemesis and have to prove themselves almost the equal of a flamboyantly brilliant hero. Colossal schemes are also useful, to differentiate them from low-rent thugs like Fagin and Bill Sikes, and an unusual physical appearance, fondness for novelty pets, an impressive lair and sheer persistence do help. Unusual psychological conditions are also recommended, but they need to be wedded to real malevolence for the proper chill.”
“I include one vampire – how could you leave Dracula off the list? – but have confined myself to roughly human beings, so Wells’ Martians or Lovecraft’s Cthulhu don’t get in.” Well, you have to draw the line somewhere. Click through to see Newman’s list of the best villains in literature, and then be sure to check out Professor Moriarty for more delightful, smoldering evil.
Count Dracula (Bram Stoker’s Dracula)
He gets romanticized in the movies – which make him a snappy dresser and a lounge lizard – but, really, Dracula is everything Bad. Especially from Bram Stoker’s point of view – he’s a brutal, smelly, scheming, foreign, abusive, wife-stealing, wife-beating, arrogant, bigamous, presumptive, bigoted, thieving, monomaniacal invader of decent British homes (and women). Even his monster brides accuse him of not loving them. His idea of pacifying the creatures is to feed them a baby.