Wednesday, August 17, 2016

The humour of horror: Charles Addams

     Charles Addams Nightcrawlers (1957) Wikipedia lists this as the 5th compilation of Addams’ drawings. Addams has a knack for combining the everyday suburban life of middle America with traditional horror tropes. This makes his Family endearing, We recognise that even terrifying monsters have a homelife and trouble raising their children. That’s what made the TV series a hit, despite its clumsy production values and often awful scripts.
     But all is not sweetness and dark. Addams also takes evil seriously: The TV host of “Here is Your Life” reveals “...the wife you haven’t seen for eighteen years” about to appear from behind the curtain, carrying a gun. Or a little boy dribbling not crumbs but thumbtacks to mark his trail. OK, that’s mere meanness, but mere meanness is merely the mildest evil.
     He’s also good on the purely bizarre: A TV repairman tells the customer he has fixed the “dead area difficulties” etc, by mounting a huge eye and two large ears on the antenna above the set. A allusion to Big Brother, perhaps.
      I think Addams influenced cartoonists like Gary Larson, and also created an audience for them. My copy is a Pocket Books reprint of 1964, well done on good paper, but I had to re-glue the back. A keeper. ***

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