Charles (Samuel) Addams Iris Barry - Essay

Iris Barry

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Naturally, an album of drawings ["Drawn and Quartered"] that comes prefaced by words from Boris Karloff [see excerpt above] would, in the normal course of events, turn out to be slightly macabre. As a matter of fact, the character that Karloff enacts on the motion picture screen lives, in between movies, inside Charles Addams's drawings. Here it feels thoroughly at home with the sinister sirens, pots of poison, reams of hangman's rope which are also often found therein.

There is considerable variety in Mr. Addams's cartoons—as witness the very unlike drawings of the taxidermist eying his fellow worker with professional interest, the stylish stout lady trying on a bullet-proof corset, and the elderly hag attempting to make a deposit in a mid-town bank—the deposit being a lumpy mattress no doubt hiding miser's pelf of some value. All of them make mock of quite every-day happenings and phrases which have been examined with a sharp beady eye and had a little salt thrown on their tails.

Yet what could be more deliciously pretty than a cartoon of the suburban lady who finds a besmocked yokel on her lawn with his woolly flock? "Crop thy lawn, lady?" he asks. This makes the present reviewer laugh immediately, for some reason. One or two of the others, however, are somewhat baffling. I think this may be because one fears to understand them.

Iris Barry, "Anyway, You Chuckle," in New York Herald Tribune Books, December 13, 1942, p. 6.∗