Happy 100th birthday to Charles Samuel Addams! Google honored the talented, and deliciously macabre cartoonist with his own very own Google Doodle. Charles Addams was an American cartoonist with a wonderful sense of black humor and some amazing, morbid characters. If you recognize his last name, it may be due to some of his recurring characters, The Addams Family. Which became the basis for three major motion pictures, two live action TV shows, two animated TV shows, and even a Broadway musical.
His cartoons regularly appeared in The New Yorker, and he also created a syndicated comic strip, Out of This World, which ran in 1956. There are many collections of his work, including Drawn and Quartered (1942) and Monster Rally (1950), the latter with a foreword by John O’Hara. Typical of Addams’s work, one cartoon shows two men standing in a room labeled “Patent Attorney.” One is pointing a bizarre gun out the window toward the street and saying, “Death ray, fiddlesticks! Why, it doesn’t even slow them up!”
Dear Dead Days (1959) is not a collection of his cartoons (although it reprints a few from previous collections); it is a scrapbook-like compendium of vintage images (and occasional pieces of text) that appealed to Addams’s sense of the grotesque, including Victorian woodcuts, vintage medicine-show advertisements, and a boyhood photograph of Francesco Lentini, who had three legs.
Addams drew more than 1,300 cartoons over the course of his life. Those that didn’t appear in The New Yorker were often in Collier’s and TV Guide. In 1961, Addams received, from the Mystery Writers of America, a Special Edgar Award for his body of work. His cartoons appeared in books, calendars, and other merchandising. Singer-guitarist Dean Gitter’s 1957 recording Ghost Ballads (Riverside, RLP 12-636), folk songs with supernatural themes, was packaged with album art by Addams showing a haunted house.