Have you ever wondered what your favorite literary characters would look like if you saw them on the street? The Composites, a Tumblr site created by Brian Joseph Davis, uses law enforcement composite software and the literary descriptions of characters in fiction to fashion sketches of everyone from Ignatius J. Reilly from A Confederacy of Dunces to Sam Spade from The Maltese Falcon.
The Composites is an interesting idea, considering so much of our mental image of a literary character is informed by the people Hollywood has cast in the role. I remember reading American Psycho after the film was released and not being able to shut out Christian Bale from my brain, even though I tried to. It was somehow worse imagining Bale doing all those awful things, things that didn't make it to the big screen.
Sometimes composites and the Hollywood casting choice end up in the same place. The composite sketch of Tom Ripley from The Talented Mr. Ripley looks close to Matt Damon from the film adaptation. The sketch of Humbert Humbert from Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov seems oilier than the film versions. In the composite he has a young David Byrne thing happening.
The ongoing site -- which is only a few pages deep -- also allows you to submit characters to be sketched out on the Web site. I wonder if all the characters from John Grisham's literary lawyer canon look as sexy and dashing as the people that Hollywood cast in their films.