Category Archives: Characters

Dominick Sarch

Back in my teenaged years, when my literary diet consisted almost exclusively of fantasy novels, I once had a fantastic dream. It was lengthy, detailed, rich, and seemed to come directly from the Dungeons and Dragons source material I lived and breathed. All the action revolved around an evil cleric who was leading an army of terrible foes against a kingdom.

When I woke I was so enthralled by the dream I fought hard to remember and re-imagine the gripping dream before it faded the way dreams so often do. I took some notes, ran through the story several times, trying to commit it to memory. What I wanted to capture most of all was the cleric, who I’d felt in the dream presented an especially gripping villain character. But of course he was the part of the dream that seemed to be fading the fastest. It was all I could do to reach back and eke out just the characters name, which after some effort I suddenly recalled as …

Dominick Sarch?

In the dream it had seemed powerful, villainous, and most of all catchy. In the waking world I could accept the Dominick part, but Sarch just sounded like a mispronunciation of “starch” or something made up to rhyme with “march.” I immediately knew it would never fly, but figured if I could get the story down quickly enough I could patch up his last name at some point.

I’ll concede that, if the audience didn’t know any English at all, Sarch might have a certain ring to it that could pass for a valid sinister-sounding moniker, but you just can’t name your villain after a food staple. It just doesn’t sit right.

Decades later, the story is lost, the character has dissolved, but for some reason I still have a line in a miscellaneous file reminding me of Dominick Sarch, the one aspect of the dream I knew wasn’t any good. I couldn’t tell you why I’ve kept it, or why it’s stuck in my head this long, other than to say I’m generally so bad at making up names that when I’ve got one–even an awful one–it’s better than having nothing at all.

But Sarch? Really? My subconscious can dream in rhyme, and this is all the better it could come up with?

The Moth-er

moth

Not actually the moth-er

The genius of this super-villain is entirely in the confusing spelling of the name. Written as “The Mother,” almost all who see it will assume the villain is female, and presumably has children, or children analogues like pets, mind-controlled humans, a robot army, zombies, alien seedlings or perhaps all of the above at once.

But in reality this villain will be a moth-themed nemesis of unknown origin and personality, more properly written and pronounced as “The Moth-er” and not mother.

The confusion, assuming his name is always written and never spoken in the presence of superheroes, ought to buy him an extra minute or three to complete his nefarious deeds. That doesn’t sound like a lot, but when most vile plots are foiled with seconds to spare, an additional minute might amount to the end of the world as we know it.

A closing thought: if the mother is code for “one who moths,” then what’s that even mean? Catches moths? Why identify with the prey rather than the predator? Shouldn’t that make the villain’s icon something more like a bat or a spider then? Or maybe just a small net at the end of a long pole?