I was first introduced to H. H. Holmes a couple of years ago when I read Erik Larson's The Devil in the White City, a fascinating account of the serial killer's unbelievable career. Then a few months ago, one of my favorite podcasts, The Last Podcast on the Left, created a great 3-episode series covering the H. H. Holmes killings. It was while listening to these episodes that the thought of drawing the Murder Castle occurred to me.
For those unfamiliar, H. H. Holmes was a charismatic young lady killer who constructed a hotel, timed perfectly for the Chicago Worlds Fair, which operated as a massive murder machine. He used it to systematically trap and kill young women, then clean and articulate their skeletons to be sold to universities. The hotel was riddled with trap doors and hidden rooms, where guests would be trapped and tortured before ultimately thrown down the chute to the basement.
One thing I do wish to make clear is that I in no way intend to glorify what H. H. Holmes did by drawing the Murder Castle. In fact, I will go on record now as beingprofoundly anti-murder. However, one cannot deny the sheer brilliance it took to pull this off. I can only imagine what this man would have been capable of had he used his powers for good rather than evil. This illustration is intended to supplement books and podcasts on the topic and to help people visualize how the hotel that Holmes built might have looked and how it was used.
Go to hollycarden.com to see my blog documenting the process of drawing the Murder Castle. It is the most complicated and enjoyable drawing project I've done to date, and hopefully the first of many like it.