Charles (Samuel) Addams Boris Karloff - Essay

Boris Karloff

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Why a collection of the drawings of Charles Addams [such as Drawn and Quartered] should need any written introduction at all is as far beyond me as the writing of one! Addams seems to me to be the one comedic artist today whose drawings need no letterpress at all. Supremely he has achieved the primary and essential purpose of any drawing serious or comic, which is to tell a story graphically in one blinding flash without a single written word of explanation…. [Few] men have realized and practised the earliest and most eloquent of all forms of story-telling as has Addams. When he does weaken and use an explanatory subtitle, it is nearly always an attempt to bolster up a story which is on the thin side. But that rarely happens. And even when the written comment does add a little spice, the drawing really does not need it. (p. i)

Perhaps Mr. Addams is happiest in his dealing with the macabre. His preoccupation with hangman's nooses and lethal doses is always innocent and gay. He has the extraordinary faculty of making the normal appear idiotic when confronted by the abnormal, as in his scenes of cannibals, skiers and skaters. Somehow one never dreams of questioning his premise, but only the rather childish alarm of the onlookers. (pp. i-ii)

Boris Karloff, in an introduction to Drawn and Quartered by Charles Addams, The World Publishing Company, 1942, pp. i-ii.