Literary Character Police Sketches Show You What Your Favorite Heroes Would Look Like On The Evening News

Let's face it: as book nerds, we fall in love with some pretty questionable characters. Some are even downright criminal. But what would your favorite literary characters look like if their faces wound up on the evening news? One artist produced literary character police sketches using composite drawing software, and the results are pretty interesting.

Brian Joseph Davis' unique portraits started as part of a weekly project with The Atlantic . He uploaded the results to a Tumblr blog called THE COMPOSITES, and even published a book of the sketches in August 2012.

What makes Davis' project so interesting is that it forces us to reconsider how we picture characters as we are reading. I know I'm not the only one who has been reading a book about a brunette woman, only to find out that she's actually a blonde. If this information comes after I'm already committed to seeing her a certain way, it's going to be incredibly difficult for me to shift gears and reshape the image that I have in my head.

But these police sketches present our favorite literary characters just as they would appear to a professional trained to draw faces from witnesses' descriptions. There isn't really room for argument there, is there? And the funny thing is, the faces in Davis' police sketches aren't totally foreign. Even if you don't recognize one of his subjects instantly, you can still see that character in there, almost like the moment when you finally meet your blind date: Oh, so that's what they look like.

Check out these 10 characters, and be sure to visit Davis' Tumblr for more police-sketch goodness.

1. Jane Eyre from Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

I sometimes regretted that I was not handsomer; I sometimes wished to have rosy cheeks, a straight nose, and small cherry mouth; I desired to be tall, stately, and finely developed in figure; I felt it a misfortune that I was so little, so pale, and had features so irregular and so marked…
'Jane, you look blooming, and smiling, and pretty,' said he: 'truly pretty this morning. Is this my pale, little elf? Is this my mustard-seed? This little sunny-faced girl with the dimpled cheek and rosy lips; the satin-smooth hazel hair, and the radiant hazel eyes?' (I had green eyes, reader; but you must excuse the mistake: for him they were new-dyed, I suppose)…
Having ascertained that I was myself in my usual Quaker trim, where there was nothing to retouch—all being too close and plain, braided locks included.

2. Nurse Ratched from One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey

Her face is smooth, calculated, and precision-made, like an expensive baby doll, skin like flesh-colored enamel, blend of white and cream and baby-blue eyes, small nose, pink little nostrils—everything working together…Her face is still calm, as though she had a cast made and painted to just the look she wants…Confident, patient, and unruffled.
No more little jerk, just that terrible cold face, a calm smile stamped out of red plastic; a clean, smooth forehead, not a line in it to show weakness or worry; flat, wide, painted-on green eyes, painted on with an expression that says I can wait, I might lose a yard now and then but I can wait, and be patient and calm and confident, because I know there’s no real losing for me.

3. Cathy Ames from East of Eden by John Steinbeck

She was not like other people, never was from birth…There was a time when a girl like Cathy would have been called possessed by the devil…Her hair was gold and lovely; wide-set hazel eyes with upper lids that drooped made her look mysteriously sleepy. Her nose was delicate and thin, and her cheekbones high and wide, sweeping down to a small chin so that her face was heart-shaped. Her mouth was well shaped and well lipped but abnormally small—what used to be called a rosebud.

4. Heathcliff from Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

His thick brown curls were rough and uncultivated, his whiskers encroached bearishly over his cheeks…
A ray fell on his features; the cheeks were sallow, and half covered with black whiskers; the brows lowering, the eyes deep-set and singular. I remembered the eyes…
Do you mark those two lines between your eyes; and those thick brows, that, instead of rising arched, sink in the middle; and that couple of black fiends, so deeply buried, who never open their windows boldly, but lurk glinting under them, like devil’s spies…
Compressing his mouth he held a silent combat with his inward agony.

5. Aomame from 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami

5'6…Not once ounce of excess fat…The left ear much bigger than the right, and malformed, but her hair always covers her ears…Lips formed a tight straight line…Small narrow nose, somewhat protruding cheekbones, broad forehead, and long, straight eyebrows…[Face is a] Pleasing oval shape…Extreme paucity of expression.

6. Julia from 1984 by George Orwell

He did not know her name, but he knew that she worked in the Fiction Department…She was a bold-looking girl, of about twenty-seven, with thick hair, a freckled face, and swift, athletic movements…
It was the girl from the Fiction Department, the girl with dark hair. The light was failing, but there was no difficulty in recognizing her…
‘Would you believe,’ he said, ‘that till this moment I didn’t know what colour your eyes were?’ They were brown, he noted, a rather light shade of brown, with dark lashes…
The youthful body was strained against his own, the mass of dark hair was against his face, and yes! Actually she had turned her face up and he was kissing the wide red mouth…
With just a few dabs of colour in the right places she had become not only very much prettier, but, above all, far more feminine. Her short hair and boyish overalls merely added to the effect… ‘They can’t get inside you,’ she had said. But they could get inside you…
Her face was sallower, and there was a long scar, partly hidden by the hair, across her forehead and temple.

7. Lux Lisbon from The Virgin Suicides by Jeffery Eugenides

He couldn’t say she was beautiful because all he could see were her eyes. The rest of her face the pulpy lips, the blond sideburn fuzz, the nose with its candy-pink translucent nostrils-registered dimly as the two blue eyes lifted him on a sea wave and held him suspended…
Lux held in one red fist a candy apple whose polished surface reflected the baby fat under her chin…
Lux's eyes, burning and velvet, glowed in the dim room.

8. Dallas Winston from The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton

If I had to pick the real character of the gang, it would be Dallas Winston—Dally. I used to like to draw his picture when he was in a dangerous mood, for then I could get his personality down in a few lines. He had an elfish face, with high cheekbones and a pointed chin, small, sharp animal teeth, and ears like a lynx. His hair was almost white it was so blond, and he didn’t like haircuts, or hair oil either, so it fell over his forehead in wisps and kicked out in the back in tufts and curled behind his ears and along the nape of his neck. His eyes were blue, blazing ice, cold with a hatred of the whole world. Dally had spent three years on the wild side of New York and had been arrested at the age of ten. He was tougher than the rest of us—tougher, colder, meaner. The shade of difference that separates a greaser from a hood wasn’t present in Dally.

9. Lisbeth Salander from The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

A pale, skinny young woman who had hair as short as a fuse, and a pierced nose and eyebrows. She had a wasp tattoo about an inch long on her neck…
On those occasions when she had been wearing a tank top, a dragon tattoo can be seen on her left shoulder blade.
Her natural hair colour was red, but she had dyed it ivory black…
Crooked smile.

10. Javert from Les Misérables by Victor Hugo

Certain police officers have a peculiar physiognomy, which is complicated with an air of baseness mingled with an air of authority…
The human face of Javert consisted of a flat nose, with two deep nostrils, towards which enormous whiskers ascended on his cheeks. One felt ill at ease when he saw these two forests and these two caverns for the first time. When Javert laughed,—and his laugh was rare and terrible,—his thin lips parted and revealed to view not only his teeth, but his gums, and around his nose there formed a flattened and savage fold, as on the muzzle of a wild beast. Javert, serious, was a watchdog; when he laughed, he was a tiger. As for the rest, he had very little skull and a great deal of jaw…
Between his eyes there was a permanent, central frown, like an imprint of wrath; his gaze was obscure; his mouth pursed up and terrible; his air that of ferocious command…
This singular composite of the Roman, the Spartan, the monk, and the corporal.

Images: THE COMPOSITES/Tumblr with permission from Brian Joseph Davis