Saturday, January 07, 2012

Charles Addams and The Addams Family

Originally posted on Shelly's Comic Book Shelf.


Thanks to Google, I know that today is the 100th anniversary of Charles Addams' birth.
Google Doodle
I've adored the cartoons of this cartoon genius since I was a kid. My father had briefly worked in the stock room at Doubleday following his discharge from the navy after WWII and was able to buy a lot of books. Lots of non-fiction, some fiction, and a lot of cartoon collections. I bought my own cartoon collections over the years and a few years ago, my father gave me his because he knew how much I coveted them.

Charles Addams Collections
The one with the plain cover is Drawn and Quartered. Its dust jacket fell apart many years ago. Favorite Haunts still has its dust jacket, which is in remarkable shape. And Monster Rally is a softcover I was able to find on my own. A number of Addams cartoons are also in the bigger anthologies that collected works of many wonderful cartoonists. But none were quite as perverse as Addams was, though many cartoonists who followed him brought their own brand of lunacy to the genre, ie Gahan Wilson and Charles Rodriguez, both of whom contributed to the National Lampoon.

But back to Addams. I supposed my favorite of his cartoons was the skiing one. I'm too lazy to go find and scan it, but it's classic: a tree with one set of ski tracks that run up to it, around it on both sides, then rejoin in front of it to continue on. There's no caption; none is necessary as we're left to scratch our heads in puzzlement, and wonder about the nature of the human/creature who left those tracks.

I grew up reading all those cartoon collections over and over and over. I traced the art. I practiced drawing by copying them freehand. Cartoons, as much as comic books, were a vital part of my childhood and now, my adulthood. And the cartoons by Addams feel as fresh today as when I first read them 50 or so years ago.

By the time The Addams Family premiered on TV, they were all familiar to me, as well known to me as my own family, though far more entertaining. And were brought to life by that amazingly perfect cast led by John Astin and Carolyn Jones.

So, here's a toast to Chas Addams, as he signed his cartoons... one of the very best to create a world with pen and paper and a deep imagination.


  1. Huh, I never knew these existed. And I thought this was just some funny TV show. Very interesting.

    Nothing like finding treasure like that for a cartoon lover. And that's so cool that your father was part of the ww2 Navy.

    Oh and the find it self, have you ever assessed it in terms of monetary value?
    Of course in terms of memories, its probably priceless.

  2. Fantastic post Shelly!

    Addams' work is truly amazing. The skiing one is a classic. Cartoons and comics were a huge part of my childhood (and adulthood) too. I love that they allow you to escape into another world.

    Is it ever cool that your dad worked at Doubleday following his discharge from the navy (WWII). It's beautiful that he gave you his collection. What a lovely dad you have. :)


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