John Coulthart writes about Fantômas, a turn-of-the(-previous-)century French pulp villain (or perhaps antihero)—master criminal, mass murderer, master of disguise—and inspiration for many Surrealist artists.
Coulthart links to an article discussing the Fantômas legacy and impact on the work of Surrealists. Despite the character's origins in a series of books by Marcel Allain and Pierre Souvestre, and, later, films meant mostly as a means of making money, and written and directed by conservative bourgeois individuals, the dream-like elements of the stories, in particular Fantômas's ability to shift identities from one individual to another, made even more complex by parallel shifts in the guise of his main adversary, a policeman named Juve, appealed to the Surrealists' attraction to dreams, uncertainty, and doubt.
As it happens, I recently picked up a copy of the first Fantômas novel. I first learned about Fantômas from an article in the Wikipedia while reading about Dr. Mabuse, a similarly evil individual created by Norbert Jacques and immortalized in several films directed by Fritz Lang.