On Villains #1: A Guest Post by JL MacDonald

In a previous guest blog entry from Jeffrey Allen Davis, I talked about how I came up with the idea of Nightcat.  I don’t think I’ve ever really touched on how I came up with her arch nemesis, Raphael, so I’m going to rectify that.

Much like Nightcat, Raphael’s look was highly inspired by Disney’s Gargoyles, (If you’ve never watched the series before, I highly recommend it).  Raphael’s look may have been influenced by the Gargoyles, but that’s about where the similarities end.  The Gargoyles had bat-like features, but I wanted Raphael to actually be part bat; a mutant like Nightcat.  From the beginning when I was still working on the “Kitty-verse” rules, as it were, I wanted to stay away from magic and mystics.  Everything was going to be based in science.  This would help distinguish Raphael’s overall look from the cartoon.  Raphael wouldn’t fold his wings up and have it look like a cape.  He wouldn’t have spikes jutting out of his joints or brow.  He could echo locate and even hover like a bat.

After coming up with the look of Raphael, I then did research on bats to make sure his look could be justified.  Bats aren’t known to be large and muscular, or have long thick fluked tails.  To date, it has never been revealed what species of bat he was mutated with so that’s something I can take literary liberty with.  (Side note: I created him with a fluked tail because I thought it looked cool.  My official explanation on why he has is it that it’s the membrane between a bat’s tail and legs. Because Raphael’s legs are far longer by comparison, the extra skin ended up on the end of his tail.)

Once I was satisfied with his mutant look, I set about to create his alter ego.  One of the rules I had with Dana Harker (Nightcat’s human persona) was that her cat form was based on her human physique for the most part.  Raphael is an intimidating 7’6” and 450 lbs of muscle so it would stand to reason his human self would be intimidating as well, but to a human scale.  Victor stands at 6’6” and is about 270 lbs with the build of a professional boxer.  Due to the structure of his feet (and this holds true of Nightcat) he is taller than his human self.

When I was coming up with his physical look, I didn’t have many ideas on personality other than he needed to be a villain, but not a thug.  Raphael was the boss so he wouldn’t be the one directly involved.  He had minions (not those yellow pill shaped ones) so there’d be no reason for him to do much “manual labour” as it was.  Plus he’d be secretive about his existence so he wasn’t about to be seen in public.

He knew he was physically intimidating in both his forms so he uses that to make his underlings comply.  I wanted Raphael to be an interesting character because I knew he’d be around for a while.  He wasn’t made to be a one-off character.

Raphael ended up being similar to a classic Bond Villain: charismatic, aristocratic and very powerful.  And as odd as it sounds, he is rather patient.  A learned behaviour on his part so his subjects don’t see him lose control.  Nightcat is really the only person that can press his buttons and really get him fired up.  One of the things I found interesting is when he does go on a rampage, he completely loses his accent and speech mannerisms.  I honestly don’t even remember how or why I came up with that idea.  It might have been one of those things the characters whispers in the writer’s ear.  It certainly worked out because it really shows how out of control he is when he lets his temper get the best of him.

In regards to his name, as well as his alter ego’s, I don’t remember much about the process because it was well over a decade since I created the characters.  I do remember that the name Raphael came from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, but why I picked that name instead of the others, I’m not sure.  It was a bit ironic because after I had named him and was working on a Nightcat website, I Googled the meaning.  It’s apparently a Hebrew name which translates to “God’s healer” or “He who heals”.  I thought given his egotism and connection to Nightcat it was fitting.  Originally, I wanted his human self to be called Vic, inspired from the Deep Space 9 character Vic Fontaine.  I decided Victor sounded more formal and was going to have Dana call him “Vic” just to annoy him.  I ended up scrapping that idea and instead had Dana call him by his first name.  Victor’s last name, Whitmoore, I found that in the local phone book, although it was spelled “Whitmore”.  I preferred the double “o” and the “oo” sound as opposed to the “or” so I changed it slightly.

So there you have it: a behind the scenes look at how I initially created Raphael.  And as a promise to my readers, you WILL find out more about Raphael/Victor’s background in upcoming novels and short stories.  The latest short story to feature him and Nightcat is in Lion’s Share Press’ Metahumans vs the Ultimate Evil anthology.  Stay tuned, because I know for a fact there will be more Metahumans Anthos coming down the pipeline.

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