Death Faces

by Tom Baker 2 years ago in celebrities

Why I Draw Serial Killers

Death Faces
AMY ARCHER-GILLIGAN: American Poisoner. :

I've done a number of drawings, portraits of the depraved. Also, some clowns, but, I suppose they could be one in the same. Usually, I am drawing whatever ghost is lurking in the eager confines of my subconscious. But, I've drawn enough portraits of serial killers and famous murderers (and murderesses) to merit comment, I suppose.

A personal favorite: Child child-killer MARY BELL, who committed her crimes in London, at the tender age of twelve.

It's not, oddly, a subject I peruse often. Usually, true crime only interests me if it is really, really old, if it hearkens back to an era when bathtub gin was swilled, and gas lighted streets and alleys dripped with the blood of butchered whores. I suppose that is because of some personal fixation or weird psychological hitch; whatever the case, the McDonalds brand of roving, modern maniac rarely interests me. Or the pathetically stupid and unimaginative, who run around bumping off nameless and colorless street walkers and dumping their bodies in shark-infested canals. Or some such.

LARRY EYLER, the "Interstate Killer."

You may like my drawings, or you may hate them. I don't care either way. Each one has captured, like a rare, wounded insect, the ugly, bitter, crepitating ghost of some foul revenant, some memory buried in the annals of so many moldering true crime histories. For my menagerie, my hideous freak-circus I have been cobbling together, lo these many years.

Self-confessed serial killer LARRY DEWAYNE HALL.

When you've captured them, when you, yourself know that a little of that black spirit has been caught, like a burning ember with a whiff of sulphur, right in the palm of your hand, you feel an eerie majesty. You've owned a piece of evil, caught it, like a black butterfly under a bell jar, and watched it flutter for you, in a way that most would sicken and pale at; but that ghost belongs to you, after a fashion. Primitive men were, at one time, scared to death to let visiting explorers from the modern world photograph them. "You will steal our souls!" they cried. You better believe it. When you own the image, as all black magicians know full well, you have the power over life and death in the palm of your unholy hand.

Grinning Like an Undertaker: Andrei Chikatilo, the Soviet-era Russian "Rostov Ripper."

Of course, my predilection for the macabre extends outward to all the uglier nooks and crannies of existence. I've labored and sweated over some of these laboriously, alone, in the wee hours of the morning. (Usually while paying silent films on YouTube. "But," you may ask yourself, "how does he watch these films and draw simultaneously?" It's a good question.) But I've also branched out to macabre clowns and deformed persons, dead silent film actresses (as long as that death was, properly, tragic), and a multitude of "Elephant Men," both in graphite and charcoal.

"The Couple that Slays Together": "Lonely-Hearts Killers," Raymond Fernandez and Martha Beck. Both executed 1951.

You may hate my artwork, or think it crude or trite. That's fine. Some, maybe most do. I'll continue to churn it out, regardless. Because we all collect the things that draw our souls in, deeply, into the vortex of our own cryptic truths. For me, theses ghosts live and breathe the nightmare of waking life. To try and reanimate them with pencils, or by whatever medium, is its own reward. That is, when I do. Now, here is a gallery:

Note: Many of these images were drawn for the book Notorious Crimes of the Upper Midwest, which I wrote a few years back for Schiffer publications. They declined to use them, except for a single page of "ghosted" thumbnails, on the title page. Images that were very small and could not be easily discerned. I suppose my messy, sketchy, unpolished style is not quite right for commercial publication. (Shrugs.)

Tom Baker
Tom Baker
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Tom Baker

Author of Haunted Indianapolis , Indiana Ghost Folklore, , Midwest Maniacs, Midwest UFOs and Beyond, Scary Urban Legends, 50 Famous Fables and Folk Tales, Notorious Crimes of the Upper Midwest :

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