Charles Addams’ Creepy Children’s Book Illustrations

gl_addams

If you haven’t heard of Charles Addams, or his famous creation The Addams Family, that ran for decades in The New Yorker, and more recently, made into movies, then none of these images will mean anything to you… although they’re still masterpieces of a brilliant and twisted mind. At the height of his popularity with the TV show of his  beloved creation, he was hired to illustrate a book of Mother Goose Rhymes. If you’ve never sen that book, chances are it’s because it was his usual frightening work, which included members of the Addams cast, giant rodents, and certain death for some characters. Here’s just a few of the delightful, terror-filled art for your Halloween pleasure!

gl_graveyard

gl_witch_alien

gl_st_ives

gl_sprat

gl_skip_rope

gl_sheep

gl_pig

gl_kids_witch

gl_humpty

gl_grundy1

gl_grundy

gl_dr_fell

gl_dickery_dock1

gl_dickory_dock

gl_contrary

gl_blackbirds

gl_beach_house

gl_bat_bat

gl_3_blind_mice

A former teacher of mine, who was a cartoonist for The New Yorker, told me a story once, which has been repeated by other people I’ve met who knew Mr. Addams. Whenever he would submit a certain cartoon, one of Uncle Fester standing by a nurse, who was holding a swaddled newborn, with the line, “don’t bother wrapping it, I’ll eat it here,” the cartoon editor would quietly and calmly make arrangements for Addams to take a little “vacation” at a very nice “spa.” Um, yeah! A “vacation” with a robe that had arms that tied in the back!

Addams died on September 29, 1988 in New York City, after suffering a heart attack in his car just outside his apartment building. Rumor has it that while still sitting in his vehicle, it was ticketed several times. A fitting end that would have made him laugh at the ghoulishness of the situation.

On a personal note, I got to meet Mr. Addams a few years before he passed away. He was a very nice and jovial man. As a young art school graduate, I showed him some of my cartoons. He smiled and said I was a very sick young man. That’s still the greatest compliment I’ve ever received!

All images ©Charles Addams

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Speider Schneider

Speider Schneider is a former member of The Usual Gang of Idiots at MAD Magazine and has designed products for Disney/Pixar, Warner Bros., Harley-Davidson, ESPN, Mattel, DC and Marvel Comics, Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon among other notable companies. Speider is a former member of the board for the Graphic Artists Guild, co-chair of the GAG Professional Practices Committee and a former board member of the Society of Illustrators. Follow him on Twitter @speider

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