The musical The Addams Family is inspired by the creations of the legendary American cartoonist Charles Addams, who lived from 1912 until 1988. In 1933, when he was just 21, his work was published in The New Yorker, and over the course of nearly six decades, he became one of the magazine’s most cherished contributors.
Bizarre, macabre and weird are all words that have been used to describe Charles Addams’ cartoons. Yet adjectives such as charming, enchanting and tender can just as accurately be employed to depict the same body of work, as well as the man himself. His unique style and wonderfully crafted cartoons enabled his work to transcend such dichotomies for his millions of fans worldwide.
Charles Addams is most widely known for his characters that came to be called The Addams Family, a group that evolved into multiple television shows, motion pictures and now this Broadway musical. Gomez, Morticia, Uncle Fester, Wednesday, Pugsley, Grandma and Lurch existed in various forms and aspects of Addams’ cartoons dating back to the 1930s but were not actually named by him until the early 1960s, when the television series was created. Surprisingly, The Addams Family characters appear in only a small number of the artist’s several thousand works. The majority of his cartoons are occupied by hundreds of other characters, but there is little doubt that those that come to life on this stage are his most beloved creations.
Over 15 books of his drawings have been published around the world, including the new collection, The Addams Family: An Evilution, the first complete history of The Addams Family, including more than 200 cartoons, many never previously published. The collection also includes Addams’ own incisive character descriptions (originally penned for the benefit of the television show producers) that remind us where these oddly lovable characters came from and, in doing so, offer a lasting tribute to one of America’s greatest humorists.