FANTASY GIRLS – TOP 10 GIRLS OF ANIMATION (SPECIAL MENTION): VELMA DINKLEY – SCOOBY DOO
To reiterate, we all know Scooby Doo, that enduring animated franchise centered on four teenage hippies and the titular talking Great Dane driving around in their “Mystery Machine” van, getting high and hallucinating monsters (not to mention their dog’s speech). “And I would have gotten away with it if it wasn’t for you meddling kids!” (Not likely, since the villainous plans always involved impersonating a supernatural being with basic special effects). It’s a cultural icon. Even the infamous Scrappy Doo couldn’t kill it, although he came close and became the ultimate archetype of unlikable characters in the process. Of course, Daphne Blake is my pinup girl of Scooby Doo and second entry in my Top 10 Girls of Animation (as well as one of my enduring childhood crushes), but honorable mention should go to Velma Dinkley. And yes, I know that I have informally mentioned Velma before when talking about Daphne, but I’ve been spring-cleaning my Top 10 Girls of Animation and have decided upon a formal honorable mention in Daphne’s entry.
In fairness, when you get right down to it, the most useful member of the Scooby Doo gang – and the one who tended to solve the mysteries – was Velma. Indeed, she could have driven around solving the mysteries by herself. It may even have been faster, if not funnier – I mean, the comic relief highlights were Scooby and Shaggy. Daphne may have been the face of the group (and she tended to be more decorative than functional and typically damsel in distress ‘danger-prone Daphne’ earlier episodes), but Velma was the brains. Even if she was prone to losing her glasses and blindly groping for them, often to comic effect with the monster of the week.
So it’s a little unfair that Velma was overshadowed by Daphne, although that’s probably what you get for wearing a dumpy sweater. Of course, Daphne was always drawn to a more pinup appearance, while Velma was drawn in a less flattering manner and dressed to match – with her customary orange baggy turtleneck sweater, pleated skirt, knee socks and Mary Janes.
Interestingly, there has been something of a reinvention of her character, perhaps reflecting the rise of s€xy nerd girls. After all, it doesn’t take too much to s€x up her traditional appearance – shoes with a little more heel, a shorter skirt, a tighter sweater. Keep the knee socks (or perhaps a little longer for that true zettai ryouiki style) and of course the glasses – and voila!
Indeed, Velma has tended to scrub up nicely in live action versions, played fetchingly by Linda Cardinelli (even if overshadowed by Sarah Michelle Gellar as Daphne) in the cinematic releases and by Hayley Kiyoko (much cuter than Kate Melton’s Daphne in my eyes) in the Cartoon Network live-action films.
And that has carried over into cosplay (and art), as featured in this honorable mention – there’s just something about Velma that adapts so much better from animation to cosplay. Perhaps it’s the glasses?
Yes, probably the glasses…