Wednesday, November 21, 2007

A Startling Flashback

This uncredited cover for the November, 1939 issue of Startling Stories pictures a Noah's Ark to Space. I have no way of knowing if it inspired the readers or not, but it may have inspired a prominent cartoonist at The New Yorker. Charles Addams has long been one of my favorite cartoonists, inspired in part by The Addams Family television series.
While playing archaeologist in my storage barn I excavated my copy of the Addams collection Addams and Evil. This collection, printed in 1965, featured cartoons first published from 1940 to 1947. I don't know what periodicals Addams read, or looked at, but, judging from the cartoon below, I suspect he may have seen this particular issue of Startling.
Of course this is merely speculation, but the similarities are there. Of course the
cover idea, no matter how well executed the theme is ripe for parody. And there was no one better than Addams to do the deed.
Science Fiction is ripe for parody and has often inspired some good stories and cartoons. Frederic Brown's What Mad Universe is a good example. The cartoons of Gahan Wilson are often inspired by the genre. Kelly Freas often used a sense of whimsy in his covers, making him one of the best loved artists in the second half of the century.
So, in honor of the humor of artists, think kindly of Charles Addams and his followers as you take part in the annual great turkey massacre, and smile. If nothing else, it will make everyone else wonder what you are up to.


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