Yesterday, while entering the local thrift store, I had a brief vision, one that I have from time to time. Perhaps I would find a long box full of cheap, nostalgic comics, back issues from the 1980s that would allow me to spend an afternoon reliving my childhood? Of course, I realized, thrift store bookshelves are full of the most predictable things: cookbooks, Tom Clancy, and bibles. So I put that idea out of my mind until it was time to pay...and there, on the checkout counter, was a longbox full of comic books! For a dollar each! However, rather than getting to relive my childhood, most of them were either from the 1970s, or from the 1990s. The 1970s comic books were non-superhero comics...Archie, Looney Tunes, and... The Partridge Family. Being the type of person who likes kitschy entertainment, I bought it. Perhaps it would be a hidden gem?
The Partridge Family comic book was published by Charlton Comics, one of the 1970s also rans, and written and illustrated by Don Sherwood, who created the comic strip Dan Flagg. The comic had two, unrelated stories.
In the first story, the Partridge Family stop their touring bus in a small town called "Dead-Ville", which appears deserted...but there is a smoking cigar in the general store! When the Partridge Family follows the tracks, they find two secret agents, working for the government...who are escorting a woman who is in a hypnotic trance. At the end of the story, they fly off and the Partridge Family drive off, and...we move on to the second story, where the Partridge Family go to a small town and sing in a church, but the church doesn't have a bell, so the Partridge Family buy the church a bell. And everyone is happy. The stories seem to be rather hastily put together, and most of the stories seems to focus on close-ups of the members of the Partridge Family, which has an uncanny valley effect, as Shirley Jones face, in comic book form, seems vaguely unsettling for reasons I can't quite describe. Most of the advertising in this issue is for Partridge Family related products, including the Susan Dey guide to popularity and boys.
I guess my take-away from this is that sometimes, when I find a simple, silly, or nostalgic piece of entertainment, I am happy to find something that can take me a way for a while. The standards of entertainment for a rainy afternoon in January can be loosened away from the immersive, subversive metanarratives that we demand. Sometimes simple entertainment can be good, either because it is good, or it is suitably kitschy. But, sometimes it is just too disjointed and weird and half-assed to even be appreciated on that level. Sadly, The Partridge Family comic book was such. However, I would still urge the reader to spend 99 cents on thrift store comics, when available.