Origins :: Rats In The Walls ~ Dark Fantasy Illustration / Goth Punk Drawings by Rick Shelton

"They must know it was the rats; the slithering scurrying rats whose scampering will never let me sleep; the daemon rats that race behind the padding in this room and beckon me down to greater horrors than I have ever known; the rats they can never hear; the rats, the rats in the walls." - H.P. Lovecraft


Newspapers and television are overflowing with examples of so-called "normal" people who have gone off the deep end, sometimes in strikingly bizarre ways. From the man in the hardware store who commits suicide by decapitating himself with a rotary saw, to the 65-year-old grandmother who forces her grandson to live in a box in her closet except to go to church or the toilet, to the cross-dressing 4-term Senator who likes to wear leather panties on the weekends, the world seems to be crowded with freaks, weirdos, and madmen masquerading as "normal" people. The truth is, there is no such thing as "normal" - there is a touch of the grotesque in everyone, a tiny spark of madness that only needs the right circumstance or environment to fan it into a raging conflagration.

We've all got a few bats in the belfry, a few rats in the walls...

Inspiration for the artwork showcased in Rats In The Walls has come from a myriad of sources. Ideas generated by the writings of H.P. Lovecraft, Franz Kafka, and William Gibson are filtered through the films of Terry Gilliam, Jeunet and Caro, David Fincher, Alex Proyas, and Jan Svankmajer. The artwork of Heironymous Bosch, H.R. Giger, and M.C. Escher cause the thoughts to mutate and evolve. Then the music of David Bowie, KMFDM, Babyland, Nine Inch Nails, and dozens of others help to distill these protoplasmic sense-images that have been swelling in the brain into a solid form on paper. Sometimes the images flow like water, sometimes they crawl and claw and bite. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don't. But in the end, it's the process that's important. The images in Rats In The Walls are the end results of a process of individual experience, thought, and emotion. These images show what is going on in my head -- take a look and you might be able to read my mind.

- Rick Shelton, January 2002

About The Artist

Rick Shelton was born in El Paso, Texas, but as a typical "military-brat", he had lived in three separate countries and four states in the U.S. before graduating high school. After school, he continued his world travels, living in Britain for two years and visiting Europe and Africa during his service with the U.S. Air Force.

To date, he has called Germany, Japan, Britain, and four of the United States his home at one time or another. He has also visited twenty states in total (twenty-one, if you count Guam), including Hawaii and Alaska, and the countries of Morocco, Spain, France, and the Phillipines. His goal is to visit South America, Australia, and Antarctica at some point, thus completing a tour of all the continents.

Rick started drawing at an early age, as evidenced by the "Self-Portrait on School Bus, Age Four" (11" x 9", Crayola) hanging in his parents' house. His mother, who is now pursuing a PhD in "Art Therapy", was a tremendous influence in the development of his artistic talents during childhood. Rick has continued to draw and create other artwork throughout his entire life, dabbling at times in oils, pastels, sidewalk chalk, sequential art, sculpture, metalwork, web design, music, writing, and animation.

Among his influences, Rick includes the artwork of Heironymous Bosch, the writing of Franz Kafka and H.P. Lovecraft, the music of Babyland, Chemlab, David Bowie, Roger Waters, Trent Reznor, etc, etc. He confesses to a guilty love of industrial covers of pop songs and is hopelessly addicted to Mystery Science Theater 3000.

Rick recently returned from England with his wife and children, where he wrote computer code for money. In addition to this online gallery, he has a blog and (perpetually-in-development) webcomic.

Rats In The Walls is a collection of online galleries of the dark fantasy artwork of Rick Shelton. The galleries span a period beginning in the early 1990s to the present. New additions are made on a frequent basis.

If you would like to know even more about Rick, you may be interested in this small > F.A.Q. < compiled from emails he's received and some other stuff he just made up to sound cool.