Saturday, October 28, 2017

Halloween Special: “Normal is an illusion. What is normal for the spider is chaos for the fly.”


Addams, Charles, Addams and Evil (Simon & Schuster, 1st ed., 16th printing, 1947). Collection of cartoons by the longtime New Yorker cartoonist (1912-1988) and creator of the TV series The Addams Family. Introduction by Wolcott Gibbs. This was Addams’ second published collection, and the first after he came home from service in World War II.

Hardcover, clipped dust jacket with some wear and tear to edges. Bright coloring in the dust jacket illustration; book as a whole in very good condition. 8” x 11”. HBB price: $79 obo.

Charles Addams (1912-88) was born a bob or two off plumb and made a good living that way. After graduating from Colgate University, he got a job retouching photos of corpses for True Detective magazine.

He found the work unsatisfying, remarking that many of the corpses were more interesting in the original.

His break came in 1940 when he published a cartoon in The New Yorker. It was the first of over 1300 and featured what became known as The Addams Family. That first one was a home run: the famous ski-tracks-around-the-tree gag.

addams skier.jpg

A dapper, urbane man, Addams lived almost as strangely as he drew. His second wife, a Morticia-figured lawyer, conned him out of the TV and film rights to his characters. When she urged a $100,000 insurance policy on him, he consulted a lawyer on the sly. The lawyer suggested he watch the movie Double Indemnity, paying particular attention to Barbara Stanwyck’s character.

He divorced her in 1956, and some years later, married his third wife in a pet cemetery. She wore black.

When Addams died, at the wheel of his car in front of their Manhattan apartment, she told The New York Times, “He was always a car buff so it was a nice way to go.”

His work touched a chord for many readers. ''I have gotten a lot of letters about my work, most of them from criminals and subhumans who want to sell ideas. Some of the worst come from a minister in Georgia.''

''I think the drawing of your tasty little household looking at the home movie is probably a masterpiece,'' he once wrote the cartoonist. ''I suspect you ought to have more characters in that household. The dearth was borne in on me by this picture. Anyhow, it's a good humorous line, when you get ideas for it, which isn't easy.''

There was also a Charles Addams quality to Mr. Addams's thoughts on travel. ''I'd love to take a trip to the Southwest,'' he mused in a 1981 interview. ''You know, Tombstone, Death Valley. We might pick up some nice mementos there.''


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