Disney Villains: The Essential Guide is an illustrated book authored by Glenn Dakin. The copious illustrations were done under the direction of designer and art editor Anne Sharples as well as art director Mark Richards, with additional art by Marco Colletti. Rather than a single narrative, it is a series of files collecting informations about Disney's most famous villains, and, unusually, several Pixar villains as well. The roster of villains so documented includes Grimhilde (referred only as "the Evil Queen"), Captain Hook & Mr Smee, Maleficent, Cruella De Vil, Shere Khan, Ursula, Scar and Sid.
Lady Tremaine, Stromboli, Edgar Balthazar, Yzma & Kronk, Captain Rourke, Stinky Pete, Jafar & Iago, John Foulfellow & Gideon, Prince John, Sir Hiss and the Sheriff of Nottingham, Lucifer, Si and Am, Hopper & Molt, Jumba Jookiba, Henry J. Waternoose, Randall Bogg, Scroop, Hades, John Silver and Emperor Zurg receive only small notes. Also featured to various degrees are Snow White, Norman, the Seven Dwarfs, Prince Florian, Humbert the Huntsman, the Tick-Tock Crocodile, Peter Pan, Hook's Crew (including Jukes and Turk), Princess Tiger Lily, the Neverland Mermaids, Diablo, Princess Aurora, King Stefan, King Hubert, Flora, Fauna & Merryweather, Prince Philip, the Goons, Pongo & Perdita and their children (Lucky included), Horace and Jasper Baddun, Roger Radcliffe, Kaa, Buzzie, Flaps, Ziggy and Dizzy, King Louie, Scuttle the Seagull, King Triton, Ariel, Flotsam and Jetsam, the Serpentine, Mufasa, Zazu, Shenzi, Banzai & Ed, Simba, Rafiki, Nala and Gaston.
The book contains files about several major evil-doers as well as labelled diagrams of their attires and lairs. Three two-page spreads entitled “Vile Villains”, “Crafty Critters” and “Out of this World” give overviews of the villains not focused on, sorted between humans, anthropomorphic animals, and extraterrestrials.
The back-coverillustration shows Gaston bemoaning the "outrage" of his not being covered in the book, which suggests that the Essential Guide exists in-universe. The book he is seen to hold up, however, does not resemble the actual cover of the Guide, being blue instead of purple.
- Norman knows of all of his mistress's secrets.
- It is stated that Snow White's ability to become the center of attention wherever she went (as demonstrated by the Seven Dwarfs' immediate endearment to her even when she is stranded in the middle of the Black Forest) compounded Grimhilde's jealousy.
- It is confirmed that Grimhilde was oblivious to the scariness of her crone form, confident that the potion had made her look like "a kindly old granny".
- Most of Grimhilde's spellbooks are on loan from the Witches' Library rather than actually belonging to her.
- Mr Smee's simplistic attire is attributed to the fact that he never gets big enough shares of the pirates' loot to afford anything better.
- The Jolly Roger is "the fastest ship on the seas", making Hook's insistence on keeping it docked in Neverland all the more infuriating for the crew.
- A parchment bearing Hook's only four rules for life aboard the Roger is seen.
- Maleficent's pale green skin is described as "very fashionable among evil fairies", implying that she spelled it thus for esthetic reasons rather than having been born this way. It is similarly confirmed that she paints her nails their iconic blood-red color (having "plenty of time" to do so thanks to "having slaves to do her bidding").
- Maleficent's Staff is identified as an extremely large and ostentatious Magic Wand, which "big-headed" Maleficent picked out of vanity.
- Maleficent's Goons were created by Maleficent herself, using her dark magic to turn vermin found by her garbage bins into humanoid servants.
Cruella De Vil
- Cruella's ordinary white coat is stated to be made from rare arctic fox fur.
- The windows of the De Vil ancestral home Hell Hall were last cleaned in 1872. The Hall, once home to "great Lords", "lurks" on the edge of a forest in the country of Suffolk.
- Cruella's car is stated to be a unique, custom-made Rolls-Royce designed to fit its driver's "explosive personality".
- According to the police report, after being apprehended for her reckless driving and dog-napping, Cruella said "something unrepeatable" to the constable.
- Ursula is stated to use squid-ink for eye-shadow, dead seaweed for false eyelashes, squished jellyfish for hair gel, pulped sea cucumber as a skin tonic and liquified shellfish as lipstick.
- Flotsam and Jetsam are twins.
- Ursula is said to have once been "a favorite at King Triton's court".
- The plots of the movies in which the villains debuted, focusing on their involvement in them, are, of course, retold.
- In an apparent continuity error, Lyle Tiberius Rourke is mentioned as a Captain, whereas Atlantis: The Lost Empire (2001) had him as a Commander.
- The book appears to hold that Grimhilde died from her fall at the end of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937), whereas The Crystal of King Arbor (1986) had earlier established her survival.
- As already implied in Mickey's Magical Christmas - Snowed In At The House of Mouse (1999), Maleficent's horns are here explicitly described as a hat. Counting Stars feat. Disney Villains (2014) would again concur by showing Maleficent taking said hat off.
- The segment about Ursula's Lair confirms the implication at the end of Serpent Teen (1992) that the corpse of the Serpentine was made by Ursula into her lair. The Serpentine is further stated to have belonged to a now-extinct species of Dragonfish, and we learn that Ursula is rumored to have eaten most of the flesh of the creature to free up its bones before she settled inside said skeleton.
Behind the scenes
Disney Villains: The Essential Guide was released in 2004 as a hardcover book.