Monday, September 03, 2018

Number 2228: Hanna-Barbera’s Addams Family

I am a fan of Charles Addams and the cartoons he drew for The New Yorker. I watched the sixties television show when it debuted, but had not heard of the 1973 Saturday morning cartoon series by Hanna-Barbera until I ran across the Gold Key Hanna-Barbera Addams Family comic book. What I found out is it’s an adaptation of the first episode of the Hanna-Barbera series. It is drawn by Bill Ziegler, a longtime comics professional who worked on comic strips (Mary Worth, for one), and had done a lot of work for Dell, then Gold Key.

Of course, animated cartoons made for Saturday morning television will never have the insinuation of the bizarre and horrible like Addams’s originals.

I am glad he chose to show the scene before the action, rather than after.

Something I noticed immediately in the comic book is the officer at the toll booth is a caricature of Addams. Addams had a very distinctive long nose. It tells me artist Ziegler may have known Addams.

To me this comic book is more of a curiosity, although if I were a youngster watching the animated series I probably wouldn’t know Charles Addams’s work. And despite the lightened tone of the comic book, removing it far from its original inspiration, Addams didn’t have any problems signing the checks he got for projects like this. He led a lifestyle of the rich and famous, even though he was not especially rich, just (in)famous. Having a collection of rare sports cars and hanging out with folks like Jackie Kennedy took a lot of $$$.

From Hanna-Barbera The Addams Family #2 (1975):


BillyWitchDoctor said...

That's like the ultimate Gold Key cover: a surplus of perfectly good gags, yet completely sublimated by the standard block of text that overdescribes the plot in the dullest manner imaginable. One can easily imagine DC at the time doing it SO much better.

Ye gods, I just found out Dreamworks transformed Harvey's Li'l Audrey, Dot and Lotta into a "modern" toon. It's not my cup of tea, as fond as I am of the old Harvey art style from my childhood, but I know the world didn't stop turning in the '50s or '60s, and the show seems to be popular. Now if only a good animation studio could just latch onto Gold Key's unsung heroes The Little Monsters and Batty & the Green Grumble...

rnigma said...

Hanna-Barbera did a second "Addams Family" series two decades later, inspired by the Addams movie with Raul Julia and Angelica Huston. John Astin returned to voice Gomez (played by Lennie Weinrib in the '70s series). Rip Taylor voiced Uncle Fester, Carol Channing was Granny.

Kirk said...

Here's an even greater rarity. Sometimes in the mid-1970s, there were these Scooby-Do "movies" on Saturday morning. Scooby and the gang would meet a different celebrity, such as Jonathan Winters. In one of these movies, they meet The Addams Family, drawn in more or less the same style as the subsequent animated series you mention (both being from Hanna-Barbara) But here's what I especially remember. John Astin, Gomez from the live-action TV series, voiced Gomez in the Scooby-Do version, and if my sixth grad memory serves me right, he was a hoot. But someone else voiced Gomez for the regular animated series, and was not nearly as good.

Nothing to do with comic books, I realize, but I just had to share the memory.

Pappy said...

Billy, rnigma, guys help fill in the gaps of my knowledge, and I appreciate you!

I wonder if the Scooby-Doo/Addams Family was a pilot for the later animated series?

I also wonder if John Astin may have wanted too much money to voice Gomez in the first series, yet struck a deal for the second. (Just supposin'.)

Something I found out from Charles Addams, A Cartoonist's Life by Linda H. Davis, is that Addams did not like the original television series. He thought the set was too bright, and that the house was much cleaner than his spiderwebbed version. Something he loved was Carolyn Jones as Morticia. He drew Morticia the way he did because the look was something that turned him on. Two of his three wives looked something like Morticia!

secretbasementlab said...

It is difficult to read without instantly hearing Gomez's words in John Astin's voice. Like Adam West, he's sort of become the embodiment of that character for me. Although when reading through the original Addams cartoons, I have to admit I default to Peter Lorre. But even in the episode of Batman where Astin dons the green tights as The Riddler in Frank Gorshin's absence, it's hard not to think of it as Batman vs Gomez Addams.

vwstieber said...

I bought the first issue when it came out (but never saw another until a few years ago) and it was one of my favorite comics for years and years. The artwork in that #1 is quite good.

Warner Archives released the 1970s cartoon series as MOD discs. I splurged. It's typical Saturday morning fodder to fill space between commercials, but the occasional gem of a joke does pop up. No complaints.

I'd enjoy seeing the 1992 series released on DVD some day.

vwstieber said...


I get the same impression watching BRISCO COUNTY JR, where John Astin plays a wacky inventor.

Your Adam West analogy is spot-on.

Pappy said...

vwstieber, now I am curious to see at least one of the episodes of the H-B series. In 1972 I was not watching Saturday morning cartoons. My wife razzed me too much for liking Jonny Quest. I showed her, though...years later I bought the original Jonny Quest series on DVD and watched them when she was out of the house.