Before he became famous for his creepy, kooky family in New Yorker cartoons and on television, the artist created darkly comic drawings for Colgate publications.
“Banquet” was first published on October 9, 1964, as the wraparound cover of Charles Addams’s seventh anthology, The Groaning Board.
The body of macabre artwork concocted by longtime New Yorker cartoonist Charles Addams, Class of 1933, had a predecessor at Colgate. Addams only spent one year at Colgate, and, mysteriously, only scant records are to be found of his time here: his name and hometown (Westfield, N.J.) in the 1931 Salmagundi, and a reference to his joining Theta Chi.
Despite his short tenure, nearly 20 cartoons published in the student comic magazine Banter clearly show the roots of his artistic style and the twisted sense of humor for which he came to be famous. From drawing style to wicked irony, his cover images show similarities to the New Yorker cartoons Addams later drew by the hundreds, while internal doodles show a penchant for depicting deadly situations and petty criminals — as well as the goofy and the sporty.
We’ll never know if Addams had Colgate’s penchant for the number 13 in his memory when he drew the cartoon at left, but legend has it that the Hamilton home lived in for decades by Professor Jerry Balmuth, who died in 2017, is one of several buildings across the country claimed to have inspired the Addams Family’s house.
Much more recently, Addams’s work was resurrected in 2010 with the release of a book and a Broadway musical starring Nathan Lane as Gomez and Bebe Neuwirth as Morticia.
His time at Colgate may have been short, but his legacy lives on.