Has A DownUnder Reader Discovered A “Not So Over-The-Top” New Surrealist Artist William Copley Black Dahlia Art Clew Riddle Further Linking Dr. Hodel’s Historic Sowden House As 1947 Crime Scene?

September 9, 2019
Los Angeles, California

“It is Midnight Dr. _____. ” (Oil on canvas) by William Copley (1961) 
Reproduced from the Mark Nelson/Sarah Bayliss book, Exquisite Corpse: Surrealism and the Black Dahlia Murder.
On page 145, regarding the Copley painting, the authors write:
“Copley was living in France and in frequent contact with Man Ray and Duchamp when he created this work. The painting shows a doctor surrounded by a scalpel, saws, and other tools. A reclining nude fills in the lower part of the canvas.”


This morning I received the below “comment” related to a 2015 posting  It was from a Mr. John Scott in Australia. It reads:





12×15 backward = 5121

My response to John Scott:





John Scott’s comment is linked to his reading of an earlier 2015 blog (Black Dahlia Avenger/Zodiac: Unexpected Help from Home and Abroad- Announcing the 2015 Inspector Clouseau Award Honorees) in which I referenced a book, Alphabet For Adults, published jointly by Man Ray and his good friend, William Copley in Hollywood in 1948.
As demonstrated in the below graphic, in their book Man Ray and Copley include the then Sowden House residence, 5121 Franklin Avenue, Hollywood, California as represented by the letter “Q” for Quarrel. (A Man and Woman (His wife Dorothy? His girlfriend Elizabeth Short?) arguing in the courtyard of our former home.

Click on the graphic below to read complete blog.

My sincere thanks to John Scott for his truly amazing observation. He like so many other readers/researchers through the years has contributed what appears to be a fascinating new and important link to the many riddles wrapped in mysteries inside enigmas.
Update/Afterthought-  9.9.19  7:30 pm
In my six books, I have referenced numerous hidden messages by the surealists, specifically relating to their knowledge (William Copley, Marcel Duchamp, Man Ray) that their friend/acquaintance, Dr. George Hill Hodel was the Black Dahlia Avenger.
Too many examples to note here, but are we aware of any example of the surrealists actually writing a “backward message” in their art?
Yes!  I included the fairly recent discovery in my earlier works and the artist was none other than MAN RAY, William Copley’s closest friend and co-author of Alphabet For Adults (1948).
The below abstract artwork was created by Man Ray circa 1935 and is entitled “Space Writings.”
For seventy-four years the fact that he had concealed his signature in the artwork by writing it BACKWARDS and concealing it in the swirls, he had managed to keep it secret from the world. His own private joke.
It was discovered by photographer, Ellen Carey in 2009. I quote from the Smithsonian article by Abby Callard:
“But now Ellen Carey, a photographer whose working method is similar to Man Ray’s, has discovered something that has been hidden in plain sight in Space Writings for the past 74 years: the artist’s signature, signed with the penlight amid the swirls and loops.”
Click on below photo for the full article in Smithsonian

(Above photo is mirrored image of original which shows Man Ray signature)


For those interested in further linkage see John Dorfman’s related article “Secret Formulas” HERE.  (John Dorfman is the Senior Editor of Art & Antiques Magazine.)


  1. Lucas Pickford on September 10, 2019 at 12:12 am

    Absolutely fascinating. A really terrific insight and in my humble opinion dead on the money. Doing everything backwards or in its inversion is the heart of Satanism and to that end Copley, Man Ray, GHH, and the other Surrealists were devotees of the highest order. Brilliant work.

    • Steve Hodel on September 10, 2019 at 8:51 pm

      Lucas P:
      Yes, so rewarding to receive this kind of “out of the box” thinking from readers as feedback. So many important links have come to me like this one has. It’s what my older brother Mike on his SciFi radio show here in LA back in the Seventies called, “The Group Mind.” He posited that he could ask any question and some listener as part of the Group Mind could call in with the answer. So true and now we have the Internet that reaches not just local LA “listeners” but goes world-wide. Our own modern-day Alexandria Library at the touch of an electronic keyboard. Amazing.

  2. Luigi Warren on September 10, 2019 at 12:17 pm

    Steve: Copley was obsessive about packing his paintings with arcane references to Man Ray works. Man Ray, in turn, was obsessed with the grid of squares, which he called “the basis for all art.” Copley presented Man Ray’s series “Shakespearean Equations,” (originally titled “Human Equations”) at his Beverly Hills gallery in December 1948. The artworks depict grids projected onto mathematical forms abstractly representing characters from Shakespeare’s plays. In the background of “Julius Caesar” is a blackboard featuring absurdist mathematical equations, e.g., “2 + 2 = 22.” See the article “Man Ray: Secret Formulas” in “Arts & Antiques” for an interesting discussion of the series. -LW

    • Steve Hodel on September 10, 2019 at 8:46 pm

      Thanks for the reference to the article.
      Below is an excellent summary.


      I especially like the quote attributed to Man Ray from the Forties:

      “..There was more Surrealism rampant in Hollywood than all the Surrealists could invent in a lifetime.”

  3. Barry Guerrero on September 12, 2019 at 2:43 am

    Steve, I had thought somebody found “Hodel” spelled out in the above Copley oil painting. Was I just imagining that? I’ve lent some of your books out to friends so I can’t reference everything.

Leave a Comment