Thursday, February 14, 2008

Review - The World of Charles Addams

The World of Charles Addams
1992 Hugo Winner for Best Related Non-Fiction

Well if there were any of these books where it doesn't matter one bit what a reviewer says this is it. The World of Charles Addams is just a collection of some of the better known cartoons by Charles Addams. His work was familiar to readers of the New Yorker and his morbid sense of humor became iconic. He was The Far Side before Gary Larson thought of The Far Side. If you're not familiar with his work then I definitely recommend checking it out, if you like his work then you'll probably want to get this book, and if you don't like his work then this isn't going to change your mind.

The only thing I can ever talk about is the presentation and despite a few flaws it is as reasonable as one can expect. The vast majority of the cartoons are presented one for each very large page. There are four pages where the cartoons are doubled up. The pages are glossy and bright making it easy to see the subtle details in the work. There are about a dozen full color illustrations as well in two sections which look just as great as their counterparts.

My problem is with the selection of a few of the cartoons. Addams repeated some ideas later in his career and a few of those cartoons are inside. The book only represents about a quarter of his total output so did we really need two nearly identical illustrations of a child releasing something dangerous among model boats? Also the introduction offers no insight into Charles Addams or his process of creation. It is a generic "He was so great!" puff piece.

But that comes down to not liking roughly ten of three hundred pages and half of those I wouldn't consider to be really part of the book. The book can be found for not much money (I think my copy was less than ten dollars shipped in a state that might as well have been new) so there's no reason not to get it.

Let me leave you with one of my favorite cartoons from the book:

Deathray? Fiddlesticks! Why it doesn't even slow them up!