IT’S CREEPY and it’s kooky
Mysterious and spooky
It’s altogether ooky
The Addams annivers’ry ...
To celebrate the centennial of the late, great cartoonist’s birth, Google today features a deft ghoulish “Doodle” in honor of Charles Addams, the longtime New Yorker magazine contributor who was a master of the macabre and a brilliant wit of the weird.
Of course, to many fans, Addams is best known for his namesake cartoon family that has leapt from page to soundstage to Broadway stage. Long after its single-panel creation, “The Addams Family” enjoys an entertainment immortality befitting the otherworldly brood.
Addams’s inspired tribe — headed by the wealthy, mustachioed Gomez and alabaster, raven-locked wife Morticia — already has an afterlife of several generations. Even the spooky, ooky lyrics and finger-snapping tune from the ‘60s TV show — which featured the “misadventures of a blissfully macabre family” — seem destined to hum in human brains for eons, an earworm for all eternity.
To pay tribute to Addams and his Family, Google’s search homepage spotlights Gomez and Morticia in the front of the logo’s “G”; Cousin Itt holding the “O”; young Pugsley in the “G” of a guillotine next to sister Wednesday (whose favorite toy was Marie Antoinette); towering butler Lurch grasps the ”L”; and Uncle Fester chomps down on the “E.”
Besides the ‘60s series, the Addams Family has spawned feature films, TV series (some animated) and video games. A Broadway musical based on Addams’s drawings opened in 2010 and closed this past New Year’s Eve (tagline: “Come meet the family. We’ll leave the lights off for you”) .
CHARLES ADDAMS was born Jan. 7, 1912, in Westfield, N.J., and by the time he was 21, the New Yorker was publishing his work. Addams became one of the magazine’s most profilic cartoonists, creating more than a thousand works — according to the New Yorker — over six decades.
Addams’s sly, morbid wit shined brilliantly through his sometimes darkly Gothic cartoons. He was Poe if the “Raven” writer had been a master gag-man. Among the monikers attached to the horror-happy Addams were “the graveyard guru,” “the Bela Lugosi of the cartoonists” and “the Van Gogh of the Ghouls.”
“I think he was so far ahead of his time by realizing that horror was funny,” Robert Mankoff, the New Yorker’s cartoon editor, tells Comic Riffs. “This was his unique accomplishment. Now we accept that — in things like campy horror movies — but he was able to make horror fun [by] having horrible, terrible things happen in a family situation in an alternative universe.”
BROADWAY’S PAGE TO STAGE: FAMILY PORTRAITS:
Only a mere fraction of Addams’s massive portfolio featured the Addams Family — but the characters took root in the popular imagination.
Addams even played up to the “creepy” image: He reportedly was married in a pet cemetery, was fond of visiting snake farms and kept medieval armor in his New York home. The delicious lore around him grew — including tall tales of his New Yorker editors having to seek treatment for him. “There is the mythical story that after he’d turn in work” to New Yorker editors, Mankoff tells Comic Riffs, “they’d periodically send him to a sanitarium.”
“Definitely not true,” emphasizes Mankoff, who met the “charming” Addams once before the supernatural-minded humorist died in 1988.
Addams has influenced countless artists, and among his great heirs of the macabre cartoon is another New Yorker contributor: Gahan Wilson.
“We’ve had many great cartoonists in New Yorker magazine,” Mankoff tells ‘Riffs, “but Addams is one of the few who endures not just for the generation that knew him and loved him, but for the generations that were born after he died.”
And his immortal Addams Family remains a “screa-um.”
(The Google Doodle appears with the cooperation of the Tee and Charles Addams Foundation.)
PAGE TO STAGE: KEVIN CHAMBERLIN (Uncle Fester):
“THE ADDAMS FAMILY” ON BROADWAY:.
Comic Riffs’ TOP TWELVE GOOGLE DOODLES OF 2011.
1. LES PAUL: THE PLAYABLE GUITAR
2. MARTHA GRAHAM: THE ANIMATION DANCE
3. LUCILLE BALL: CHANNELING THE HIGHLIGHTS
4. FREDDIE MERCURY: THE MUSIC VIDEO
5. JIM HENSON: THE CLICKABLE MUPPETS
6. ART CLOKEY: THE “GUMBY DOODLE”
7. JULES VERNE: DEEP-SEA DOODLE
8. STANISLAW LEM: THE ANIMATED SCI-FI GAME
9. MARY BLAIR: THE DISNEY DOODLE
10. THOMAS EDISON: THE ILLUMINATING DOODLE
11. MARK TWAIN: THE HANNIBAL PANORAMA
12. LOUIS DAGUERRE: THE PHOTOGRAPHIC DOODLE