- Posted by Johanna on July 3, 2010 at 10:24 am
- Category: Archie Comics
- PUBLISHER: Archie Comics; $11.95 US
If there’s one overwhelming impression of this newest volume in the Archie Americana reprint series, it’s brightness. From the cover to the interior pages, there’s plenty of eye-jazzing color. It’s not just the bright-hued outfits, either, but pink or green walls and backgrounds.
As with the second Sixties volume, this followup gets away from the obvious trends. Although there is one story about King Tut and another featuring a teen disco, with some of the period pieces shown here, it’s debatable whether they were ever widely popular — graffiti, for example? (Here done with chalk, not paint, so no one’s inconvenienced.) I hadn’t realized nostalgia (for ice cream parlors, in this case) was considered a craze in the 70s, but I guess that explains Grease. I also had a hard time believing Betty and Veronica freaking out over Tom Jones (called “Tom Jonah”, allowing for whale references).
One of the most obvious period mentions appears in the story about women’s lib, which is a hugely unflattering exaggeration that completely misses the point in order to paint girls interested in equal rights as idiots. (It’s as offensive as if they ran a story supporting blackface or segregated lunch counters.) I much preferred the one about patriotically painting fire hydrants for the Bicentennial. That was sweet and old-fashioned without being obnoxious.
The gags about the generation gap, especially when it comes to music, and stories about how everyone can do their part to prevent littering may have been published in the 70s, but their messages are timeless (and have likely been redone in every decade). So is the story about a self-centered rock star and the one about the dangers of learning faux-Asian wisdom from TV. I particularly liked the last story, about not spending extra money while bargain hunting because you’re convinced you’re so frugal. That’s particularly timely now!
If you’re looking for a bunch of stories just about 70s fads, this isn’t the right book for you; the first volume is better for that. For me, the high point was simply seeing the fashions drawn. The clothes are rarely the subject of the stories, which is what makes them more honestly of the period.
Also similar to the other books, there are no creator credits included. There’s a page listing Archie’s current staff, editors, Presidents (there are multiple), and CEOs (there too), and two pages telling where the stories were first printed and when. Plus, an introduction by Hal Lifson (who?) that’s just a shopping list of “remember this 70s thing? how about this?” I would really have liked to have known which artists are responsible for which stories. There are at least two, maybe three, major styles shown here, all of which are incredibly familiar to me, and I would have loved to have put names with the art.
The best audience for this is older readers who remember reading these stories, or similar, the first time around, because they’ll pick up on the more subtle ways that times have changed, as reflected here. The back page reveals that Best of the Eighties Book 2 is planned for later this fall with a Michael Jackson-inspired cover. (The publisher provided a review copy.)