See how the old became new again in The Addams Family: The Art of the Animated Movie

Review by C.J. Bunce

Writer Ramin Zahed is back with his next dive behind the scenes of the latest animated films (including Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Missing Link, The Little Prince, and Klaus), this time exploring this year’s CGI version of The Addams Family in The Addams Family: The Art of the Animated Movie.  You might have thought you’d seen it all when it comes to the creepy, kooky, mysterious, spooky (and ooky) family that became a classic to two generations, first as a 1960s television series and later as a 1990s movie series.  What you might not have known was the Addams Family dates back to a New Yorker cartoon from the 1930s.

For the 2019 movie The Addams Family, co-directors Conrad Vernon and Greg Tiernan didn’t want to make another version of the TV or film versions in animated form.  So they went back to the source, creator Charles Addams.  In interviews with executives and animators, Zahed explores the source material and concept artwork that inspired the new film.  It turns out Charles Addams created character descriptions for each of the famous characters, Gomez, Morticia, Wednesday, Pugsley, Uncle Fester, Lurch, Grandma, Thing, and It–it was these descriptions that the character designers used to guide the personality of the new animated version of the characters.

The Addams Family: The Art of the Animated Movie walks readers through each of the above characters, supporting character art designs, a portrait gallery from the mansion, props, vehicles, and setting locations, providing images of the designs artists went through before deciding on the final, with concept art, storyboards, and production art, and inspiration from Charles Addams’ original cartoons.  Contributors from the film include producers Gail Berman, Alison O’Brien, Alex Schwartz, and Danielle Sterling, character designer Craig Kellman, production designer Patricia Atchison, story lead Todd Demong, animation director Mike Linton, and animation creators Rav Grewal, Casey Kirkpatrick, Marie-Eve Kirkpatrick, Laura Brusseau, and Yiqun Chen.

The final chapter takes a detailed look at the creation of an entire scene from the film from idea to execution.  Zahed also includes how the production came up with the voice styles and accents used by key voice actors Charlize Theron, Oscar Isaac, Chloe Grace Moretz, Finn Wolfhard, Nick Kroll, Snoop Dogg, and Bette Midler.

Artwork showcased in the book was created by film designers and artists Negar Ahmadi, Jake Collinge, Fran Delgado, Florian Fiebig, Nicole Garber, Alex Juhasz, Damien Labonte, Michelle Lannen, Jeannie Lee, Maisha Moore, Bastien Pourchier, Alfonzo Salazar, Chris Souza, James Tohill, Jack Yu, and others.

A colorful look at adapting a classic property for a modern audience while staying faithful to the source material and a good survey of the current CGI animation process, The Addams Family: The Art of the Animated Movie is available now here at Amazon, including an attractive hardcover with jacket.

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