Solve the Charles Addams Cartoon Mystery – Update: Cartoon Found

Original May 25 post:

From a Witney Seibold article at SlashFilm about 1991’s The Addams Family film:

On Christmas 1946, the New Yorker published a notorious Addams strip wherein his Family’s home was visited by carolers. High above their heads, standing on the home’s central tower, the Addams Family is slowly tipping a cauldron, presumably full of hot oil or molten lead, onto their visitors’ heads. That strip would later be made into a Christmas card.

© The New Yorker

That strip was also the first image seen in Barry Sonnenfeld’s 1991 film adaptation, “The Addams Family.” Indeed, in a 2021 interview with the AV Club, the director said that he just stole the gag outright. And that wasn’t the only one. There was also a scene partway through Sonnenefeld’s film involving a model train that he lifted from a strip, as well as a teaser trailer that imitated Addams’ work.

Sonnenfeld said:

"[T]he inspiration was always in Charles Addams' drawings. And there are actual images that I just stole outright from his work and turned into two-dimensional moving pictures. Like, there is a Charles Addams drawing of someone playing with an H.O.-gauge train set, and it shows a commuter looking out the window and seeing some man playing with the controls of his train set. And I stole that and used it exactly. In fact, I'm the guy in the train!"

Witney couldn’t find the commuter train cartoon.

That strip was not published in the New Yorker, however. Or, at the very least, I was unable to find it in my massive “Complete Cartoons of the New Yorker” compendium, a coffee table book that no household should be without.

After looking for the cartoon online (my Addams books are boxed away) I also failed to find it.

The cartoon does strike a chord, but I’m not sure it is an Addams cartoon (Gahan? Vip? Rodrigues?)

Anybody have any ideas?


With the help of Fred (the librarian) and docnad narrowing the search (see comments)

and an eBay listing that showed a number of inside pages, we have found the cartoon!

From page 74 of Charles Addams’ Homebodies (Simon and Shuster, 1954) …

© Charles Addams

5 thoughts on “Solve the Charles Addams Cartoon Mystery – Update: Cartoon Found

  1. For one, I’ve seen the cartoon years ago. I used to collect Addams Family paperbacks, and remember the cartoon.

    And it’s almost certainly Addams’ work, because in the 1964 TV show, Gomez runs trains fast and blows them up – and we close up on his leering face. See YT for the scene.

  2. I think I know the cartoon in question. The problem is, I can’t find it. The one that comes to mind is a man in a train looking out the window at a boy (much larger than the man) kneeling on the floor operating a switch box labelled “Lionel.” I think it’s in the collection Homebodies, which is the one Addams book in my collection I can’t find. It’s not in any collection I can find, either. I looked through My Crowd, two New Yorker cartoon collections, and the World of Charles Addams, as well as all the other Addams collections I have.

    1. Thank you. I still need to find my copy, but now the need isn’t as urgent. 🙂

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