KM: It’s what we wanted to do. People are reading a little less and less on paper. We’re kind of trying to attack it the way we can. We wanted to educate the public [on his drawings]. This isn’t the script for the musical or the movie or anything. The drawings came from a person and not just for TV. There are people who didn’t know when the TV shows came out. It looked like another TV show, another ‘ha-ha’ sitcom. That’s just the nature.
GK: Speaking of the movie, there is a lot talk about Tim Burton taking the lead on a new 3D project. Do you have details?
KM: I can’t say anything. There is someone else that has to handle that. That’s it; I don’t know what they are saying about that. No offense, I can’t do that. I’ll trip over myself [laughs].
GK: Even after all these years, people still seem to gravitate toward the family. How would you explain the lasting legacy?
KM: Isn’t it strange? I think probably it has to do something with TV and movies constantly churning out some interpretation of that family. Everything came from the cartoons, but there are only 150 cartoons published. It’s rather extraordinary that it has a cult following. It has a life off its own. There were people in the 30s and 40s who gravitated to that family. Then it becomes a TV show, then it comes full-length movie. It’s nice to know the Addams Family is carrying the ball for Charles Addams. But his other works are just as wonderful.
GK: But what do you think it is about the family that is so appealing? I mean, there have been multiple films, TV shows, video games and now a musical.
KM: It does have a life of its own. The Addams Family answers a lot for a lot of different people. They do live on the dark side. But they really are no different. Technically they are trying to be good parents and raise a family. They’re just on the other side. If you choose to think they’re strange, that’s your business. He let everyone make their own decision.
GK: Now that there is this resurgence in interest in the family, what role does the foundation play in protecting the integrity of the cartoons?
KM: I think that’s what’s so much fun about all this. The source material is coming back into play. No offense to the film versions, [the characters] really weren’t as swashbuckling gorgeous as they were in the cartoons. It’s great to go back to source materials and see what were the intentions [of Addams’ original drawings]. That’s exactly why these things are happening. We have the responsibility to educate the public through exhibition. It’s the promise we have to his legacy. That’s why we’re doing it.
GK: You’ve said that TV and movies are constantly churning out some interpretation of the family. Some retelling of Uncle Fester seems to be a popular image — why him?
KM: Not that each family has one, but, well, each family does. [Laughs] He was definitely different. He was a loner and out there on his own. He could have been a prototype of someone who may run against the grain. But he’s very much as part of society as anyone else. Charlie did refer to himself a bit like Uncle Fester.
GK: Do you have a favorite character?
KM: I have a really hard time with that question. I have enjoyed Uncle Fester the most. The percentage of drawings that are available, there are so much of Uncle Fester. He was probably the darkest of all the characters and said nothing. Dark, but happy.
GK: The family was very dark, and there was a bit of violence but never any consequences or injuries. Modern cartoons like “Family Guy” and “The Simpsons” show the gore and they are more on the lighthearted side. As dark as Charles’ cartoons were, they never treaded to gore – was that intentional?
KM: Oh, absolutely. As far as Charles was concerned, in his work the intention was far more than the bludgeoning. It’s much more subtle. It has much more ‘umph’ being behind it than having the intention there. We don’t have to see it. Let the reader come up with it. It all has to happen in one shot. Its more interesting to have the intention there. You draw in the blank.
— Gerrick D. Kennedy
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“Addams Family” images courtesy of the
Tee and Charles Addams Foundation.