Every hero needs a central villain, their Moriarty, their Lex Luthor, their Joker. Halfway through writing the very first SDMJ story for Steampunk Trails, I realized I needed to invent a villain, and the one I did was more or less destined for the part.
Silas is unique in that he’s a character I wrote a description in text before I ever drew an image of him:
He was as grotesque as his name suggested, standing at least eight feet tall with a wide sloping brow, a clasping jaw filled with jagged teeth, and a muscular structure that suggested more gorilla than man, all of which was crammed into an ashy brown vest and jodhpurs as well as expert tailoring could possibly permit…
In my mind he always looked like a cross between Frederic March, of the 1936 version of “Dr. Jekyll and Mr Hyde,” and a literal primate. In early drawings I tried to retain some of those “Hyde” features, the jowls, the bulbous nose, and the bags under his eyes. Over time though, he’s become a lot more gaunt, and I think he now resembles a baboon more than a gorilla. Also, a big point of contention is his hair: an extremely early proto-drawing of him was actually bald. Later drawings gave him tousled hair. But, after giving him a “Little Lord Fauntleroy” style curl-crop in “Monstrosity Returns” did I decide that he actually looks good in rather short, slicked-back hair.
His very first evil scheme, to build a giant nitroglycerin bomb and threaten to blow up Big Ben unless he’s given the crown jewels helped to set up the basic tenets of the character. He would love to take over London and become its undisputed leader. The reason? He is the legitimate son of royalty, the first born son of the Duke of Nodont. He’s so hideously ugly, though, that he’d give the concept of divine genealogy a run for its money. He has thus left his family in disgrace, and his family’s royal status has fallen to his younger sister, the Duchess Nelle de Nodont, who is even more evil as a politician than Silas is as a villain.
Silas has no illusions that he’s doing wicked things for the greater good. He’s a villain and he knows it. Strangely, though, he doesn’t see himself as villainous as The Scarlet Derby sees himself as heroic, and he’ll on occasion actually Join Midnight Jay in telling The Derby to dial back his act a little. The Derby is of the illusion that Silas is his rival and intellectual equal, while The Jay treats the battles Silas has with The Derby as though they were two overly-competitive kids at play.