A long-time contributor of cartoons to The New Yorker magazine, Charles Samuel Addamsnote (January 7, 1912 September 29, 1988) specialized in whimsically grotesque scenes, which was evidently something of a case of Drawing What He Knew.
One set of his recurring characters became the basis for the television series (and later movies) The Addams Family. Addams also drew such classic one-off cartoons as a skier somehow going around a tree on both sides at once; a moustachioed villain with a young damsel slung over his shoulder heading down into a subway, presumably to tie her to the tracks; and a banana peel lying on a busy city sidewalk, cordoned off by "caution" signs.
(And before you ask: Yes, as a matter of fact, he WAS distantly related to John Adams and his family, despite the differences in surname spelling.)
Works by Charles Addams with their own pages:
- The Addams Family cartoons
Other works by Charles Addams provide examples of the following tropes:
- Artistic Title: Addams provided these for the films The Old Dark House (1963) and Murder by Death (1976).
- Awful Wedded Life: Pretty much any depiction of a husband and wife involves one or the other either fantasizing about, actively plotting, or cleaning up after doing their spouse in.
- Banana Peel: One of his more famous strips has a banana peel lying on a sidewalk, surrounded by barricades and Caution signs.
- Black Comedy: It's basically his trademark.
- Chained to a Railway: Used as a gag more than once.
- Collector of the Strange: Addams himself. He had his ultimately fatal heart attack while seated behind the wheel of one of his (parked) classic automobiles.
- Conjoined Twins: Sometimes showed up.
- Dada Comics: Occasionally ventures into this territory.
- Death as Comedy: Again, done numerous times. One typical example has a woman inviting her husband to enter the house, while she has a gun aimed at the door.
- Deliberately Monochrome: Most cartoons are in black-and-white and take place in dark settings.
- Droste Image: Subverted in one cartoon, where an ordinary-looking man is reflected in a pair of barbershop mirrors to this effect... but one of the reflections shows a demonic-looking horned monster in his place.
- Enfant Terrible: Shows up often, even besides the Addams family kids.
- For Halloween, I Am Going as Myself: One cartoon depicts an Alien Invasion, with one of the invaders being greeted by a homeowner and told, "I'm sorry, sonny. We've run out of candy."
- Fur Is Clothing: One cartoon depicts a bear leaving a fur-storage place in boxer shorts and sunglasses.
- Human Head on the Wall: An unusual divorce settlement.
- Multiple Head Case: Pretty common.
- Nightmare Fetishist: The man was openly into the dark and macabre.
- Obstacle Ski Course: He may have been the first to depict a set of ski tracks going on both sides of a large tree.
- Our Gargoyles Rock: They show up on occasion.
- Rule of Funny: Bizarre situations without explanation are common.
- Slave Galley: A recurring setting for gags.
- Surreal Humor / Surreal Horror: Go hand in hand in his cartoons.
- Urban Fantasy: Many of his cartoons had this feel, with the strange and supernatural happening amidst crowded cities.
- What Could Have Been: At one time Addams and Ray Bradbury planned to collaborate on an anthology book involving Bradbury's own fictional monster family, the Elliots, but the project never came to fruition.