For this year’s Halloween costume contest, we asked our readers to suit up as their favorite inner “silly villain.”With entries ranging from comic book bad guys to brain-eating monsters, the entrants proved that it’s never looked so good to be bad.After much deliberation, we selected two winners — one adult and one child, who will receive Halloween-themed prize packages — and three runners-up.Here are their costumes, along with details behind their inspiration and design process.Adult winnerPhil Grubenhoff, 48, MansfieldDarth Vader The inspiration: A longtime fan of the “Star Wars” franchise, Phil Grubenhoff said it was practically a no-brainer when it came time to pick his favorite bad guy for our contest.“The thing I liked about Vader is that he’s in charge,” Grubenhoff said. “The phrase ‘large and in charge’ comes to mind.”What our judges loved about the contest entry: Grubenhoff has brought a softer side to the normally “dark-sided” Darth Vader. He is a member of the 501st Legion, a Star Wars costuming club that visits children’s hospitals and appears at charity and promotional events. He says he has made more than 100 costumed appearances, many to help raise the spirits of sick children. The design process: A true labor of love, the costume required an extensive amount of work to make it movie-accurate, the die-hard fan said. He used material such as fiberglass, resin, wood and LEDs to re-create Vader’s look. Although he purchased the mask and helmet, he had to do a number of alterations that would make even a film costumer’s head spin.“The helmet was reinforced with fiberglass. The lenses, ‘teeth,’ mouth and chin grills were all replaced with scratch-built parts,” he said in his entry. “The surface of the mask was resculpted with resin and fiberglass. I made the chest, shoulder and shin armor from fiberglass. I made the chest box from fiberglass and belt boxes from wood. Both are wired with LEDs. I made the cod armor from wood and covered it with vinyl.” Grubenhoff said his wife made his cape and robe. For all this work, and all the good work being done in this costume, we say, “May the force be with you.”Youth winnerDaniel Azbell, 12, ColleyvilleCreeper The inspiration: When Daniel Azbell heard about our costume contest, it didn’t take long for him to think up the perfect bad guy.“I just thought since it was Halloween, what’s creepier than a Creeper?” Azbell said.A character in the popular game Minecraft, the Creeper is an exploding creature that sneaks up on unsuspecting players, causing great damage to them and their surroundings. The design process: Using everyday materials like cardboard boxes, paper and packing tape, Azbell put the costume together almost entirely by himself. (Mom provided some help.)Azbell worked mostly on weekends to perfect his “creepy” ensemble; he said the design process went rather smoothly except for a minor miscalculation about the cardboard he was using.For his creativity and hard work, Azbell crept his way into our judges’ top spot.Runners-upNicole Williamson, 37, Grand PrairieMedusa The inspiration: A big fan of Clash of the Titans, Nicole Williamson threw a nod to Greek mythology when she chose the Gorgon Medusa as inspiration for her bad-to-the-bone costume. The design process: Emulating Medusa was no easy task. A working mom with children ranging in age from 1 year to teens, Williamson said the costume took lots of planning. From start to finish, she said, it took about two weeks to execute.To make her all-important snake headdress, Williamson formed a base from a soccer ball and foam; wrapped it with rubber snakes, 18-gauge wire and foam wire; painted it black with glitter; and glued on a foam spider web as the crown.We think it’s a slitheringly sensational costume!Jacob Galey, 20, BurlesonSlender Man The inspiration: When Jacob Galey went off to college, he faced a Halloween dilemma.“I didn’t know if I should dress up, and I didn’t,” he said.Galey regretted his decision when he saw that everyone else donned costumes. He vowed that the next year he would come back with a costume better than those he had seen.For his bad-guy entry, Galey chose the elusive Slender Man, a fictional character who is described as unnaturally tall and thin with a featureless face. Slender Man is said to stalk, abduct and traumatize people — yikes! The design process: Galey began putting his Slender Man costume together last year and continued tweaking details this year.He created his look by using a Lycra body suit, dress pants, a dress shirt, a combination of a black shirt and vest for his jacket, trash-bag shreds for his tentacles, and black fabric, wire, tissue paper and gloves for Slender Man’s long arms. If you see him on the street, watch out!Russ Tribble, 31, Fort WorthThe Joker The inspiration: As an eighth-grade science teacher, Russ Tribble is always looking for fun ways to engage his students in learning. Even if that means dressing up as Batman’s archenemy.With a backstory that involves falling into a vat of chemicals that left him disfigured, the Joker was Tribble’s choice of “inner villain” because he thought it was a great object lesson in how science can have consequences if used inappropriately. The design process: To make his transformation from average Joe to maniacal psychopath, Tribble dyed his hair green and used costume makeup to give himself the Joker’s signature crooked smile.Tribble had a mostly smooth experience putting his costume together, but said he did run into trouble when trying to track down the Joker’s signature purple suit. (Where’s the school drama department when you need it?)The importance of quality teaching is no joke, and — purple suit or no purple suit — we like Mr. Tribble’s style.
Courtney Ortega, 817-390-7715 Twitter: @courtneyaortega