Classic Pulp Villains

The pulp heroes often faced villains who were memorably over the top. Though most of the villains only appeared once (mainly because they were either killed by the heroes or accidentally brought about their own demise), there were still a few that stuck in my memory. Here are some of my favorites:

  • Fu Manchu – How can you top this Oriental mastermind? His brilliance was unmatched and I enjoyed the fact that he didn’t consider himself a villain at all.
  • John Sunlight – The man who exposed the secrets of Doc Savage’s Fortress of Solitude, Sunlight was just as formidable as the Man of Bronze. The only thing that would have made him better in my opinion was if he’d had an interesting supporting cast, mainly as a counterpoint to Doc’s Fabulous Five.
  • Doctor Satan – I first encountered this guy in Ron Fortier’s Hounds of Hell novel and have enjoyed him ever since. Dressed as the freakin’ devil, this guy has a memorable group of servants and is so over-the-top evil that he’s fun to root against. I enjoyed him so much that I’ve used Doctor Satan as a foil for both The Peregrine and Lazarus Gray.
  • Fantomas – The brilliantly evil Fantomas was as cool as they came, but sadistic and ruthless. For years, I’ve thought using some version of this character in one of my stories. Eventually, I’ll get around to it.
  • The Prince of Evil – Benedict Stark was a twisted killer who battled The Shadow over the course of four novels. The first two are definitely the best – the depraved depths that Stark is willing to go to really makes him stand out amongst The Shadow’s rogues gallery.

What about you guys? What pulp villains could you never get enough of?

BTW, the Doctor Satan image at left is by Anthony Castrillo and features the crimson-clad bad guy as he was depicted in my Peregrine series.

One comment

  1. Fu Manchu’s probably right about not being a villain. His tactics to free China from Western imperialism are vicious, but no worse than Britain pushing opium on the Chinese. Though after Japan invaded Manchuria, the politics of the series gets pretty weird (I blogged about that here:
    John Sunlight definitely, though I’d have liked a better sequel than Devil Genghis. Cadwiller Olden of Repel is another great foe who regrettably never got a second shot.
    Among Shadow foes, I like Shiwah Khan and the Voodoo Master. Surprisingly despite reading a lot of Shadow pulps and about the Shadow I don’t recall ever hearing of Stark. So thanks for that.
    For SF pulps, Ul Quorn the Magician of Mars from the Captain Future series is a great adversary.

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