Remember when Radio Shack was a place where you could go to buy radio parts? Yeah, I know it’s hard to believe when you look at all the cell phones, digital cameras, and DISH Network subscriptions on display in your local store, but there once was a time when they were serious about ham radio operators and other hobbyists. They were also pretty serious about outreach—get kids interested in electronics today, and tomorrow you have a customer.
In this vein, Radio Shack published educational comics to extol the virtues of electronic goods to kids, especially Radio Shack-branded goods. Whiz Kids took the fiction route, using original characters Alec and Shanna to tell stories that extolled community values with a (sometimes heavy-handed) dose of product placement nestled into the narrative.
On the more nonfiction side of things there are the Science Fair Story of Electronics and History of Electronics series, which are more geared toward providing as much information to students as possible, though later issues of History of Electronics featured comic industry stalwarts Superman and Archie and Friends.
There’s a lot of interesting retro kitsch to be found in these old comics, watching the characters ooh-and-aah over things we take for granted. There’s even a bit of presumption in there, such as in a section on space travel:
Inaccurate future speculation aside, the historical bits are still accurate, providing a thorough, though brusque, overview of the electronics industry’s development.
The Whiz Kids comics have proven to be somewhat popular, and can be viewed at various places throughout the web, though the presentation here is probably the best, despite the use of Flash.
(thanks to Alex)