Thursday, December 01, 2016

That Time David Cassidy Almost Got Sued by Walt Disney

Charlton Comics! They were the Avis Car Rentals of the comic book industry, because just as Avis said "We're Number Two...we try harder!", Charlton's motto should have been, "We're Number Eight!...behind Marvel, DC, Archie, Harvey, Gold Key, Kitchen Sink, Warren...wait, we forgot Atlas Seaboard and Skywald..."

Anyway, Charlton was the little company that tried harder, expanding its line in the 1970s with a number of licensed comics (i.e., the one Western/Gold Key didn't want anymore) and media tie-ins. Never forget that Charlton not only had a comic book but also a magazine of NBC-TV's Emergency! (the groundbreaking series that introduced exclamation points to network television, for which What's Happening!! and Sledge Hammer!! would forever be grateful). Holy cow, though, that's some great art by...Joe Staton and Neal Adams? Whoa, Charlton, nice talent!

Cover of Emergency [comic] #2 (August 1976), painted art by Joe Staton;
Cover of Emergency [magazine] #1 (July 1976), painted art by Neal Adams

Naw, I kids the Charlton Comic Group, because despite their eventual 1980s out-of-business-ness, they really were throwing pretty much everything up against the wall to see what stuck, including attempt to reach young audiences with series that'd appeal to teens like its comic The Partridge Family, based on the very popular ABC-TV sitcom, and its spin-off comic David Cassidy, spotlighting the romantic misadventures of the teen idol star of The Partridge Family! I'm not certain any other comic book company would have done this at the same time. Why that would be like Marvel giving us a Black Widow comic book and also a monthly Scarlett Johansson series. (Say...!)

Cover of The Partridge Family #13 (November 1972), pencils and inks by Don Sherwood;
Cover of David Cassidy #2 (March 1972), photo cover

Everybody loved David Cassidy as Keith Partridge, the real-life stepson of TV mom Shirley Jones as Shirley Partridge. And if we know David's middle name, we can see what he has in common with another with another popular 1970s TV character! Oh, if only Charlton could have then published a companion comic for The Hardy Boys Mysteries and the accompanying Shaun Cassidy comic to feature the life and loves of David's half-brother, it wouyld have truly been The Age of Cassidy Comics!

Here's one of the typical exploits of David Cassidy, and see if you can spot any of the tiny, almost imperceptible copyright infringement attempts made in the story, okay?

Panel from "A Date with David" in David Cassidy #2 (March 1972); pencils, inks, and letters by Sururi Gumen

Note: the "Malibu" song appears to be fictional, despite my many Google attempts to fidn out if it was a real song. Let's just pretend he was singing this classic radio hit instead, shall we?

Please count the number of times the word "chick" is used to indicate a woman in this story. I hope you have enough fingers! David's TV mom Shirley Jones should not be involved in David's sex life, and yet there she is, while David attracts women like flies. ("So that's why all his women look like flies!" wisecracks TV brother Danny Bonaduce.) Intent on making sure David doesn't score (because helping him do that would be just wrong even for a stepmother), Shirley sets up David with Vicky, The Small Wonder young pre-teen Carrie Scott, who has the teeth of Squirrel Girl but is polite enough not to mention Shirley Jones's clown makeup.

While David asks Carrie out of a "date" (and I'm gonna keep putting it in quotes), ani-gals strike curious poses around him, trying to attract his attention like the unnamed female foreground figures in an Archie story. It's no good, girls, he only has eyes for Carrie.

Forget everything you might think about a twenty-two year old guy taking a pre-teen out on a "date," I'm sure it's all on the level and...wait, they're going unaccompanied by a chaperone? And they're going to live out David's "fantasy land?" AIEEEEE STOP IT COMIC

Oh, whew, it's just a thinly disguised version of what could be any other possible generic theme park that might happen to be located right there in Anaheim, California, located directly at 1313 Disneyland Drive Main Street. And then Barney Rubble appears which makes me think maybe David should not have partaken of the wacky weed before driving a car with a kid in it.

Oh, well, sure, a theme park with a big castle at the center of it is sure to have meet and greets with popular cartoon characters that all the kids love:

I'm sure Charlton just chose those characters by completely random choice out of a hat for their completely casual, uncalculated guest appearances.

It's off next to popular iconic park rides like "The Spinners" and "The Flying Farm Tour." Here they are, and just to be able to picture them in real life, I've included some completely fictional made-up photoshopped images of what they might possibly look like if they were based on real tourist attractions, rather than being the completely original creations of Charlton Comics.

Hey, how about a leisurely cruise on an old-timey riverboat, perhaps named after a famous nineteenth-century American figure all the kids love, like Herman Melville or William Jennings Bryan?

Ooooh, spooky! A, or dwelling, or if you will...manor.

Later, at the combination Mule Ride/Balloon Exhibit, swinging chicks gather to watch the hot burron action!

Suddenly: Susan! And Debbie, and Carol, and Bernadette, and I'm betting the hippie girl is named "Sunflower" or "Freedom" or possibly "Chastity" or something like that...naw, that'd be too ridiculous a name to give your daughter in the 1970s.

Carrie is not pleased. And if you've read your classic '70s literature, you know that when Carrie is unhappy, people die.

But David's a cool dude with a nice 'tude after all, if we might be permitted to use some slang from the eighties ten years earlier. He palms off to Carrie a 8x10 glossy photograph of himself, signed earlier by Reuben Kincaid, as a memento of "one of the nicest dates that David Cassidy ever had with any chick." Later, Carrie became an activist for the ERA and threw this photograph in the trash, but who are we to cast an ugly shadow on what was pretty creepy all along?

Immediately afterwards, David burnt rubber back to Fantasyland and had himself the best night of his life with all those swinging chicks. What do you think of that, Shirley Jones?


joecab said...

You just KNOW "Carrie Scott" had to be either a real-life friend or relative of someone at Charlotte or some kid who won a contest.

Smurfswacker said...

I'd swear the "Fantasyland" sign was re-lettered. "Fantasy" is kind of crowded in. Could it have originally read "D*****land"? The balloon lettering doesn't seem to have been messed with. Maybe the artist put the wrong name on the sign.

It strikes me odd that Carrie, seemingly a Californian, says she's "heard of" TheLand. As if most of the kids in the country hadn't heard of it (and seen it on TV). It's funny to see the H-B characters running around. Talk about creepy: Barney Rubble is hitting on Carrie!

Age-related issues aside, there's something slightly off about the presentation of WhicheverLand, as if the writer had never been there and worked from the barest of reference material. And this is possible, because the story was almost surely written by East-Coaster Joe Gill, the same guy who in "Adam-12" presented kids playing with fire hydrants as one of Los Angeles' summer problems.

Dave said...

Is that Gwen Stacy or her clone in the lower right corner at Fantasyland?

Jim said...

Emergency! introduced exclamation points to network television?

A single tear rolls down the cheek of Art Fleming, host of NBC's Jeopardy! (Or it probably would have, if he hadn't passed away in 1995.)

Blam said...

Partridge Family logo designed by Charlton's (wait for it...) staff artist.

Michael Grabowski said...

By coincidence last night I read "Letter From Venus:Driven By Beauty" by Beto and it's like a Mature Readers cover version of this story. So many parallels, it's spooky.

Bernard Sax said...

I worked a season, many years ago, at Paramount's Carowinds in Charlotte, NC. The walk-around characters there were the H-B characters. I shared the changing facility with Quick-Draw, Scooby-Doo, and Dyno-Mutt. The chick who played Dino in the Pebbles Flintstone stage show also played bass in the talent show with me! The other end of the park featured actors dressed as Star Trek characters; Humans, Vulcans, and Klingons.