Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Charles Addams anyone?

I hadn't really given this guy much thought till I happened upon a slim volume of his one panel comics yesterday at the library and flipped to a page that had a man sitting in his den by the fireplace with taxidermy animal heads covering the walls...and a unicycle in the corner.
I had heard of him before as the guy who created the Addams Family but beyond that I had never heard anything about this person who drew such fantastically weird comics.
One thing that really surprised me was how much he seemed to have influenced a certain cartoonist that also drew one panel comics named Gary Larson. A lot of cartoons in this slim book are very farside-esque in subject matter such as the themes of men stranded on small desert islands or fairy tale witches. Some of them seemed like Larson had ripped them right off! I will admit that Larson upped the weird factor but he never got as dark as Addams. There's one with a woman talking on the phone to someone saying "My husband's just out in the garden." Over her shoulder through the doorway we can see a freshly dug grave with a shovel at the front. Thats pretty morbid right there.
Addams also is a better artist than Larson. I love how his shading adds a gloomy atmosphere that makes some of his work downright depressing. Take this one for example: Unicorns
I think Larson did one that was something like this but the way Addams did it with the rain and the gloomy clouds gives it an atmosphere thats almost sad. Its silly but when I look at it I feel bad for those unicorns. There's one in the book that has a mouse sitting in a maze in a darkened laboratory. The way its shaded you can just barley make out his surroundings and it gives it a very lonely feeling, the way only silent empty rooms at night have.
One from the book: Handrail
Heres an Addams Family one (I wish I could find a book of these): Shadows

By all accounts Addams was a likable well-read man and its said his favor with the odd and the macabre was just a put on. I like to think he was like me, that the normal world is so bland and boring that his comics were a way of escaping that banality. Its not the way he saw the world, but the way he would have liked the world to be. I could be wrong though.



This is primarily directed at Spitter who seems to be a comics aficionado, but has anyone else stumbled onto this guy? Any other books that you can recommend me? The only one our library seems to have is Creature Comforts and all that has is New Yorker comics from later in his life, which aren't bad but the book is too darn short!

And thank you to my friend Jen for commenting!!! I'll try and find some more Saturday morning cartoon clips to post. I've sort of avoided talking too much about how much I miss sitting in front of the TV watching cartoons all Saturday morning because it makes me feel so damn old, but I suppose I could give it a whirl. I do miss it so.


Phantom Spitter said...

Charles Addams was a master! I'm so glad you found and like his work. I suggest stuff by Peter Arno and Gahan Wilson.

Anonymous said...


Kurdt said...

@ Anonymous: What a great blog, thanks so much for sharing!