I’m really shitty when it comes to remembering dates. I have a few keys dates committed to memory: Birthdays of both my wife and daughter and my anniversary. These are key and forgetting them would be catastrophic. You learn this through the magic of sitcoms at an early age and when the time comes, you make sure that you don’t forget them. Otherwise, I forget everything else. Parent’s birthdays. Brother and Sister’s birthdays. Close friends. Everybody’s. Were it not for Facebook, I’d never remember. I never forget names and faces but, for the life of me, dates elude me. Today I leaned on Google to remind me that it was Charles Addams’ birthday. A fact that I’m sure Facebook would have told me had Charles Addams had one. But he doesn’t. On account of him being dead since the 80’s.
When it came to monstrous 60’s sitcoms you had your choice of either The Munsters or The Addams Family. I was an Addams Family guy. This preference had a lot to do mostly with Morticia Addams (rather Carolyn Jones’ proto-goth presentation of Morticia) and John Astin’s portrayal of Gomez Addams bleeding equal parts Barnabas Collins and Groucho Marx. The genesis of all of this, however, was cartoonist, Charles Addams.
For 50 years, Addams was a cartoonist for The New Yorker where, beginning in 1938, he contributed his first Addams Family cartoon. Addams was known for contributing other toons and strips but his true legacy lies in this morbid family of fiends. The Addams Family style was distinct. Rudimentary black and white illustrations existed in a single panel, sometimes with a quote, always saturated with subtle yet extremely black humor. Each panel was a single, unrelated image with no continuity between them. As a matter of fact, The Addams Family as we know them, existed without names until the sitcom premiered nor is their monstrous nature ever truly revealed. This was Addams’ style. Even his non-Addams Family toons were bizarre and contained gruesome and fantastic qualities.
Today is the birthday of Charles Addams. He would have been 100.