Tandy Computer Whiz Kids “V2 #3”
Archie Comics Publications (1992)
WRITER: Mike Pellowski
PENCILER: Stan Goldberg
INKER: Mike Esposito
COLORIST: Barry Grossman
LETTERER: Bill Yoshida
EDITOR: Victor Gorelick
The school board is requiring kids to perform some kind of community service. After running into their old art teacher, Alec and Shanna decide it should be an outreach with the senior citizen center, the seniors even offering to teach what they know in exchange for the kids’ help. One of the kids, Zeke, is trying to join a group of graffiti artists but after meeting the art teacher changes art styles. The graffiti kids are about to get payback by ruining a mural everyone worked on but Zeke, Alec, and Shanna convince them to put their talents towards “real art” and they help paint the next mural instead.
What they got right: They actually use their computer in this story! As a glorified spreadsheet and help translate the artwork into a wall-sized painting but it’s more use of the computer than we’ve seen. Preachy as it comes off at one point, teaching kids that senior citizens still have something to offer is a positive thing. Also, Alec and Shanna stop their teacher from being mugged. There’s the crimefighting duo I’ve missed.
What they got wrong: There is a form of graffiti that actually can be good artwork. It’s just the graffiti artists in this story, all of whom suddenly change their positive opinion of graffiti way too fast to be believable, aren’t making that kind of art. Thus the story condemns all forms of graffiti instead of this group not getting permission and painting rather weak art. Imagine a good piece of artwork incorporating their style and making it look good. Either the kids are older now, and yet still have Ms./Mrs. Wilson as their teacher, or the elementary school has more grades in it than it does in Connecticut because around here elementary school is grades 1-4, though our also held kindergarten and a small preschool I didn’t go to. Otherwise your requiring fourth graders to take part in community action. Middle school–LATE middle school, less grade 5 and closer to grade 8, I could understand and high school even more so, but these kids aren’t even 13.
What I think overall: I don’t know why Radio Shack stopped producing these comics with this issue, but it’s not a very good issue. The concept is okay but the preachy PSA nature of the story, the Computer Whiz Kids not using their computer to save the day like in the early years, and changes to the story like Alec and Shanna now being siblings just doesn’t work for me even if the art is improved in these last few issues. This issue also repeats the Archie backup from the previous issue, with the Riverdale group going to the museum to learn the history of technology. It’s not a fantastic series but it went downhill, and then came up artistically only to lose its way narrative-wise. It’s too bad, because I actually liked the early comics. Sad to see it go.