Documenting the Co-Ed Killer case

Category: Artwork (Page 1 of 2)

REVIEW: Ed Kemper – Dans la peau d’un serial killer

**French translation of the review follows**

Publisher’s presentation:

Ed Kemper, 6’9”, 280 pounds, is an American serial killer nicknamed “the Ogre of Santa Cruz”. Cannibal and necrophiliac, he has been convicted of eight murders including that of his own mother. It is with him that the term serial killer and the methods of profiling were first used.

Writer Thomas Mosdi (author of the Succubes book series) and illustrator David Jouvent (The Dragons of the Red City) retrace the journey of the serial killer who inspired the character of Hannibal Lecter in The Silence of the Lambs, in a graphic novel that is both exciting and terrifying.

Review:

I was really looking forward to reading Ed Kemper – Dans la peau d’un serial killer (Under a serial killer’s skin) to see how this story that Kemper followers know so well would be told. Not being a comic book reader, I really liked this graphic novel, which is well told and beautifully drawn and colorized. 

Indeed, the drawings are superb and present the facts realistically without overdoing it. The California of the 1970s is credibly represented with warm colors and images that evoke well this seaside resort that is Santa Cruz. The attention to detail in the boxes is impressive. David Jouvent is very good at drawing the Kemper character, his face, his stature. The general treatment is not particularly gory, we can feel the respect for the victims and their families.

As for the narrative thread, it is skillfully constructed around an incident that occurred during Kemper’s trial in 1973 when a doctor administered Methedrine, a methamphetamine drug that made Kemper delirious for several days and made him see his life with great lucidity and realize the horror of his crimes. [see this post for details about this incident].

This narrative structure allows to tell the story entirely from Kemper’s point of view through a narration, as if we were in his head and could hear his thoughts, his inner voice, helping us to better understand his psychological journey. The story takes a non-linear look back at key moments in Kemper’s life, such as the abuse at the hands of his mother, the murder of his grandmother, his stay at the Atascadero psychiatric hospital and the kidnapping of Mary Ann Pesce and Anita Luchessa. The story also allows us to go into Kemper’s delirium and to rub shoulders with his demons and fantasies (severed heads, zombie victims, his mother as a snake, etc.). 

This graphic novel is aimed at an informed audience who, ideally, already knows a little bit about Ed Kemper’s story. For readers less familiar with his case, it may be difficult to realize the magnitude of his crimes, and to differentiate between his fantasies and reality. The crimes are not shown, nor is the trial. Some victims, such as Rosalind Thorpe, Alice Liu and Sara Hallett, are mentioned in passing without telling what happened to them. 

Only one regret: it would have been nice, for a few of the flashback scenes, to insert dialogue between Kemper and other characters, like with his mother for example, to see Kemper in action and not just in reflection.  

In short, a graphic novel that I enjoyed thoroughly but I know won’t please everyone. Some people may find this kind of book unhealthy, but I believe that it’s relevant to look into a criminal’s mind and dark soul to try to understand what motivates someone to commit such extreme acts. 

**Version française de la critique**

Présentation de l’éditeur :

Ed Kemper, 2m10, 130 kilos, est un serial killer américain surnommé « l’Ogre de Santa Cruz ». Cannibale et nécrophile, il a été condamné pour huit meurtres dont celui de sa propre mère. C’est avec lui que l’on a utilisé pour la première fois le terme de tueur en série et les méthodes du profiling.

Le scénariste Thomas Mosdi (auteur des Succubes) et le dessinateur David Jouvent (Les dragons de la cité rouge) retracent le parcours du tueur en série qui a inspiré le personnage d’Hannibal Lecter dans Le Silence des Agneaux, dans une Bd à la fois passionnante et terrifiante.

Critique :

J’avais très hâte de lire Ed Kemper – Dans la peau d’un serial killer pour voir comment serait racontée cette histoire que les amateurs de Kemper connaissent bien. N’étant pas une lectrice de bande dessinée, j’ai beaucoup aimé cette Bd, qui est bien racontée et superbement dessinée et colorée. 

En effet, les dessins sont magnifiques et présentent les faits de façon réaliste sans en faire trop. La Californie des années 1970 est représentée de façon crédible avec des couleurs chaudes et des images qui évoquent bien cette station balnéaire qu’est Santa Cruz. L’attention portée aux détails dans les cases impressionne. David Jouvent réussit particulièrement bien le personnage de Kemper, son visage, sa stature. Le traitement général n’est pas particulièrement gore, on sent le respect pour les victimes et leurs familles.

Pour ce qui est de la trame narrative, elle est habilement construite autour d’un incident qui s’est produit pendant le procès de Kemper en 1973 alors qu’un médecin lui a administré du Methedrine, une drogue méthamphétamine qui a fait délirer Kemper pendant plusieurs jours et lui a fait voir sa vie avec une grande lucidité et réaliser toute l’horreur de ses crimes. [voir ce post en anglais pour les détails sur cet incident.]

Cette structure narrative permet de raconter l’histoire entièrement du point de vue de Kemper par une narration, comme si on était dans sa tête et que l’on entendait ses pensées, sa voix intérieure, nous aidant ainsi à mieux comprendre son cheminement psychologique. L’on fait ainsi des retours en arrière non linéaires où l’on revisite les moments clés de l’existence de Kemper, tels l’abus aux mains de sa mère, le meurtre de sa grand-mère, son séjour à l’hôpital psychiatrique d’Atascadero et le kidnapping de Mary Ann Pesce et Anita Luchessa. Cela permet aussi d’aller dans le délire de Kemper et de côtoyer ses démons et fantasmes (têtes coupées, victimes zombies, sa mère en serpent, etc.)  

Cette Bd s’adresse à un public averti qui, idéalement, connaît déjà un peu l’histoire d’Ed Kemper. Pour les lecteurs moins familiers avec son histoire, il peut être difficile de se rendre compte de l’ampleur de ses crimes, et de faire la différence entre ses fantasmes et la réalité. Les crimes ne sont pas montrés, ni le procès. On évoque au passage certaines victimes, comme Rosalind Thorpe, Alice Liu et Sara Hallett, sans raconter ce qui leur est arrivé. 

Un seul regret : il aurait été bien, pour quelques-unes des scènes de flashbacks, d’insérer des dialogues entre Kemper et d’autres personnages, comme avec sa mère par exemple, pour voir Kemper en action et pas seulement en réflexion.  

Bref, une Bd que j’ai beaucoup appréciée mais qui, je le sais, ne plaira pas à tout le monde. Certaines personnes peuvent trouver ce genre de livre malsain, mais je crois qu’il est pertinent d’étudier l’esprit et le côté sombre de l’âme d’un criminel pour essayer de comprendre ce qui motive une personne à commettre des actes aussi extrêmes.

Sources: All images were taken from the following Facebook pages: David Jouvent’s personal page and Ed Kemper Chronicles / English title is our translation.

Interview with David Jouvent

**French translation of the interview follows**

David Jouvent is the illustrator of the graphic novel Ed Kemper – Dans la peau d’un serial killer (Under a serial killer’s skin), published in French in September 2020. We asked him a few questions about the creation of this unique work.

EKS: Why did you create an album about Ed Kemper? Where did you get the idea? What was your inspiration?

DJ: The idea originally came from Jean-Luc Istin who, in 2009, had created a collection on serial killers for Soleil. He came across my work while viewing the book of my colorist Axel Gonzalbo. As he was looking for someone to draw a one-shot on Kemper… and as I had set up a project with Thomas Mosdi… things happened very naturally. To put it in context, at the time, Big Ed was totally unknown to the general public. Only a handful of insiders knew about him and there were very few articles on the net and even less pictures!! This obviously changed dramatically with the success of the Mindhunter series. My references in terms of serial killers came from Thomas Harris’ work, Psycho (by Hitchcock) and Chris Carter’s Millenium series (which I liked very much) with Lance Henriksen where there was a lot of talk about serial killers in season 1.

David Jouvent at work

EKS: How was the collaboration between Thomas, Axel and you during the creation of the album?

DJ: First of all, we exchanged a lot of documentation of all kinds… I wanted to make sure that the places and atmospheres of the times fit together perfectly. For me, it is essential to be credible in my visuals, so that the reader has no doubt when he sees a telephone or inadequate vegetation (the vegetation in California is not the same as in Alaska!) As an anecdote, I had pushed the vice to the point of reproducing in detail the broken headlight of his car or the exact plate number! (laughs) Without forgetting the sticker of the university where his mother, Clarnell, worked…

EKS: You made some narrative choices for the script, such as excluding the trial and the murders of his grandfather, Rosalind Thorpe, Alice Liu and Sara Hallett (they are mentioned, but not shown). How did you decide what was to be shown or not shown?

DJ: The important thing (and the concept) was to speak from Ed’s point of view, how he saw things, so there was no room for the representation of the victims! If only out of respect for their families. Exit all that is gore, we were not there to make vulgar sensationalism. Just to put ourselves in this man’s skin for a moment, and try to catch a glimpse of his motivations and feelings. If this can give some kind of explanation to his (incomprehensible) actions, because we all ask ourselves this question: “how can one reach such extremes?”.

EKS: The structure of the narrative is in flashbacks with as a starting point the moment when Kemper is delirious in prison following an injection of medication that makes him revisit the events of his past. This allows you to tell the story from Kemper’s point of view and walk through his narrative. How did you come to structure the story in this way?

DJ: Indeed, this anecdote was blessed bread!! It’s more of a question to ask my screenwriter (laughs)!

EKS: For the drawings and colors, what were your aesthetic inspirations?

DJ: The idea was to give an atmosphere reminiscent of California and the 1970’s… warm colors, in a dominant sepia.

EKS: Are you working on a new project right now? If so, can you tell us a few words about it?

DJ: I have a fantasy western project based on Native American legends… but, the context is not very favorable at the moment… more to follow.

EKS: Thanks David!

**Version française de l’entrevue avec David Jouvent**

David Jouvent est le dessinateur de la bande dessinée Ed Kemper – Dans la peau d’un serial killer, parue en français en septembre 2020. Nous lui avons posé quelques questions au sujet de la création de cette œuvre unique. 

EKS : Pourquoi avoir créé un album sur Ed Kemper? D’où t’es venue l’idée? Quelle a été ton inspiration?

DJ : L’idée provient au départ de Jean-Luc Istin qui, en 2009, avait créé une collection sur les tueurs en série chez Soleil. Il était tombé sur mon travail en visionnant le book de mon coloriste Axel Gonzalbo. Comme il cherchait quelqu’un pour dessiner un one-shot sur Kemper… et que j’avais monté un projet avec Thomas Mosdi… les choses se sont faites très naturellement. Pour remettre dans le contexte, à l’époque, Big Ed était totalement inconnu du grand public. Seule une poignée d’initiés connaissait et l’on trouvait très peu d’articles sur le net et encore moins de photos !!! Cela a évidemment fortement changé avec le succès de la série Mindhunter. Mes références en termes de tueurs en série étaient issues de l’œuvre de Thomas Harris, Psychose (de Hitchcock) et la série Millenium (que j’affectionnais beaucoup) de Chris Carter avec Lance Henriksen où il était énormément question de tueurs en série dans la saison 1 !

EKS : Comment s’est déroulée la collaboration entre Thomas, Axel et toi pendant la création de l’album?

DJ : Nous nous sommes d’abord beaucoup échangés de la documentation de toutes sortes… je tenais à ce que les lieux et ambiances des époques collent parfaitement. Pour moi, il est essentiel d’être crédible dans mes visuels, que le lecteur n’ait pas de doute en voyant un téléphone ou une végétation inadéquate (la végétation de la Californie n’étant pas la même qu’en Alaska !) Pour anecdote, j’avais poussé le vice jusqu’à reproduire dans le détail le phare cassé de sa voiture ou le numéro de plaque exact ! (rires) Sans oublier l’autocollant de l’université où travaillait sa mère, Clarnell…

EKS : Vous avez fait certains choix narratifs pour le scénario, comme par exemple, vous avez exclus le procès ainsi que les meurtres de son grand-père, Rosalind Thorpe, Alice Liu et Sara Hallett (ils sont mentionnés, mais pas montrés). Comment avez-vous choisi ce qui allait être montré ou non?

DJ : L’important (et le concept) était de parler du point de vue d’Ed, c’est sa vision des choses, donc, la représentation des victimes n’y avait pas sa place ! Ne serait-ce que par respect pour leurs familles. Exit tout ce qui est gore, nous n’étions pas là pour faire du sensationnalisme vulgaire. Juste se mettre dans la peau de cet homme un moment, et tâcher d’entrevoir ses motivations et ressentis. Si cela peut donner une forme d’explication à ses actes (incompréhensibles), car on se pose tous cette question : “comment peut-on arriver à de telles extrêmes ?”

EKS : La structure du récit est en flashbacks avec comme point de départ, le moment où Kemper délire en prison suite à une injection de médicaments qui le fait revisiter les événements de son passé. Cela vous permet de raconter l’histoire du point de vue de Kemper et de vous promener dans son récit. Comment en êtes-vous venus à structurer le récit ainsi?

DJ : Effectivement, cette anecdote était du pain béni !!! C’est plus une question à poser à mon scénariste (rires) !

EKS : Pour les dessins et les couleurs, quelles ont été vos inspirations esthétiques?

DJ : L’idée était de donner une ambiance qui rappelle la Californie et les années 1970… des couleurs chaudes, dans une dominante sépia.

EKS : Travailles-tu sur un nouveau projet de BD en ce moment? Si oui, peux-tu nous en dire quelques mots?

DJ : J’ai un projet de western fantastique basé sur des légendes amérindiennes… mais, le contexte n’est pas très propice en ce moment… à suivre.

EKS : Merci David!

Sources: All photos were taken from the following Facebook pages: David Jouvent’s personal page and Ed Kemper Chronicles / English title is our translation.

New images and release date for Kemper graphic novel

These new images were released a few days ago on Facebook by cartoonist David Jouvent.

The release date has been pushed back due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It will come out in France on August 26, 2020. Published in French by Éditions Robinson (Hachette), the book is 48 pages long.

Ed Kemper, 6’9″, 280 pounds, is an American serial killer nicknamed “the Ogre of Santa Cruz”. Cannibal and necrophile, he was convicted for 8 murders including that of his own mother. It was with him that the term serial killer and profiling methods were used for the first time.

Scriptwriter Thomas Mosdi (author of Les Succubes) and cartoonist David Jouvent (Les dragons de la cité rouge) retrace the journey of the serial killer who inspired the character of Hannibal Lecter in The Silence of the Lambs, in a comic book both exciting and terrifying.

2002 – Ed Kemper parole hearing

June 28, 2002 – Santa Cruz’s deadliest serial killer will be in prison for at least another five years.

Edmund Emil Kemper, 54, has been in prison since 1973, when he was convicted of savagely killing, decapitating and dismembering six UC Santa Cruz students, his mother and his mother’s friend in 1972 and 1973.

Kemper was set to face the state parole board Wednesday. But earlier this week, he waived his right to the hearing, and agreed not to seek parole again until at least 2007, according to Denise Schmidt, spokeswoman for the state Board of Prison Terms.

Kemper’s agreement came as a surprise to county prosecutor Ariadne Symons. She said Kemper had indicated he would attend the parole hearing at the California Medical Facility in Vacaville, and Symons was prepared to go – and to argue that he must remain behind bars.

She wrote in a letter to the parole board that she does not think Kemper is at all reformed, and that he remains a threat to society.

“Apparently Kemper does not like to be referred to as a ‘monster,’” Symons wrote. “However, the term is apt, even though it is woefully inadequate. Mere words cannot convey the horror of what he did.”

Kemper will be 59 when he becomes eligible for parole again.

Symons says that no matter when Kemper comes up for parole, he should not be released.

In her letter to the parole board, Symons wrote:

“In an interview at the time of his arrest, Kemper stated ‘I certainly wouldn’t trust me in society again.’ Let us give weight to those words.”

Source: “Kemper waives parole hearing”, Santa Cruz Sentinel, by Jason Schultz, June 28, 2002 / Artwork: unknown artist (please let us know if you know who it is, we will add credit)

“Just like, it amazed me so much because one second she’s animated and the next second, she’s not, and there was absolutely nothing between. Just a noise and absolute, absolute stillness.”

***Warning: graphic content***

[REBLOG] On January 8, 1973, Edmund Kemper picked up Cynthia Ann “Cindy” Schall as she was hitchhiking to Cabrillo College and drove her out to the Corralitos – Freedom area where he talked her into getting into the trunk of his car, telling her he was going to take her to his house to talk, and then shot her in the head with a .22 caliber pistol he had purchased that day. She died instantly.

He decapitated her the next morning after engaging in sexual acts with her body. He disposed of her remains and her things, except for her head that he kept and buried in the backyard, just under his mother’s bedroom window.

Artwork by: @kkdtrooper / kkdtrooper.tumblr.com/

Kemper shows burial sites

Source on Instagram: cerealkillerwithmilk

Shortly after his arrest, upon his return to Santa Cruz, serial killer Ed Kempelead police to the sites where he buried his victims. Kemper targeted young female hitchhikers, luring them off the road and into his vehicle. He would drive to a secluded spot to murder them, and then take their corpses home to dismember, desecrate, and decapitate them. Detectives said Kemper was extremely cooperative throughout the search.

“Budget cuts are hell” ceramic mug

Here’s another ceramic mug that Ed Kemper made at the CMF in Vacaville in 1978. It’s a half mug. Really pretty and nice to the touch.

As written on the face of the mug, “Tony” is Tony Palmiero (also Palmerio), a film writer and producer who was in charge of making a film about Kemper in the late 1970s. Kemper was very involved with Tony in making it as close to the real story and the truth, but funding was cut to the movie. Kemper was mad and decided to make two halves of a mug stating “Budget cuts are hell” in regards to the cancelling of the film.

I don’t know if Kemper made the two halves. On the certificate of authenticity prepared by Kemper, he says that the project was not completed and that he retained the half mug until 1991 when he gave it to a friend.

This ceramic mug is part of my collection of true crime collectibles.

Ed Kemper’s ceramic art work

Imperfect criminal justice systems execute the innocent along with the guilty — Kemper’s case does not fit that rubric. However, Kemper’s execution would have done nothing to change the unpardonable acts of his past, while it would have precluded every decent, useful and beautiful that he has done in prison. Considering the lives of his victims, Kemper’s execution could not fairly have been called an injustice, but considering the life he has led in prison, it would have been a mistake. However, it is Kemper’s remarkable art work that, ultimately, confirmed my faith in the futility of the death penalty.

Because of powerful forces beyond his control, Edmund Kemper is too high-risk to be on the street, but in 41 years of incarceration, he has been a model prison-citizen, an effective functionary and a very interesting artist, whose ceramic designs have amazed me and astonished my friends for almost 35 years. The cup Kemp mailed to me, almost 35 years ago, continues to delight me every day.

NOTE: Above is my photograph of an amazingly intricately-glazed, slip cast cup. It was made on the dock near my home in the South of France. Below it is my photograph of Ed Kemper making that cup, in his house in California State Correctional Facility — Vacaville.

Photographer Joey Tranchina who visited ed kemper at the cmf in vacaville in the fall of 1979

Source: Excerpt from My Life Tumbled – Photographer Joey Tranchina’s Blog on Tumblr – July 12, 2014

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