TRS-80 Computer Whiz Kids written by Paul Kupperberg, art by Dick Ayers and Chic Stone

Comic: TRS-80 Computer Whiz Kids
Release date: 1984
Writer: Paul Kuppenberg
Artists: Dick Ayers, Chic Stone
Cover: full-color
Interior: full-color
Synopsis: Archie comics made this comic to be used as a promotional device for Radio Shack Division of the Tandy Corporation. The comic is partly a step by step guide on how to use the TSR-80 model 12 computer and partly an adventure where Alec and Shanna prevent terrorism. 

The Deal

I've been very interested in small press comics for a while now and I've found that I'm captivated by promotional comics. They're usually a one off comic that was given away, either by a company or a government to promote a certain action or product. Because they're usually made by companies that don't normally print comics I've decided they're within the range of what I would consider 'small press'. 
I was at the first ever Dutch Comic Con and found this little gem in one of the (it felt like hundreds of) boxes of comics I went through. You don't find many promotional comics in the Netherlands so I went for it. My copy is in M/NM condition and I got it for 6,95 euro. 

The Feel

Standard size comic from 1986. Newsprint interior with a shiny slightly thicker cover. Full-color inside and out. The ink has run slightly on some of the pages, but that also is indicative of the age the comic was made in. Overall it looks good, time has been gentle to this comic.

The Story

There are actually two stories rolled into one. Firstly we have Alec and Shanna, two school kids who are in a computer class where they learn how to use the TSR-80 model 12 computer. Secondly we have a terrorist plot to kidnap Mr. Anderson, president of the Unite Industrial Electronic Company. There are parts which are less interesting to read because they're no more than an explanation on how the TRS-80 works and which buttons you need to push to get a result. There's also an explanation on the history of computers. Just when the whole thing begins to feel like a manual the story breaks loose and the action begins. Of course the computer is the real hero. For this day and age the story feels slow and unlikely, but thinking back to 1984 it was exactly what people read. The link to international terrorism made it feel more up to date than it was. 

The Look

The comic was produced by Archie comics and as such it looks like most Archie comics of the same time period. The artwork is clean, colorful and Alec even has some freckles. Even now some 30 years later the colors on the cover of my copy are well saturated and have withstood the test of time. The interior art has a couple of places where the paper sucked in too much of the ink, making the art slightly blurred, but that's a well known problem of using newspaper print.

The Conclusion

You may like this comic for any number of reasons. It has all the characteristics of a comic from the bronze age. It was produced by Archie comics. It's a promotional comic and heavily promotes the use of computers in modern life. Focusing all it's attention on the newly released TRS-80 computer and the Model 100 with coustic couplers for a hand phone set. If you're into old computers you'll love this comic. For me, all these reasons separately would have been good enough to buy the comic. How could I resist them all together? 

How to get a copy

I've seen Whiz Kids comics on Ebay. Usually they come from the USA and a lot of comic book sellers are now using Ebay's Global Shipping program which offers international shipping at very high prices (20+ US$ to have one comic shipped to me is a bit steep). I'd keep my eyes open in comic book stores and ask around on conventions and such. It may take a bit of time, but you will be able to get it for a good price. 
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