The Tandy Computer Whiz Kids series was a series of promotional comics made by Radio Shack from 1980 to 1991. In them, the two titular Whiz Kids, Alec and Shanna, teach their class (and by extension, the audience) about Tandy computer products and occasionally other topics (substance abuse, child kidnappers, environmentalism, etc.)
Eight issues were made for the main series by Tandy, along with three tie-ins with DC Comics featuring Superman, Supergirl, and Wonder Woman (with the two, along with their teacher, also appearing in a regular edition of Superman in 1981).
While originally largely obscure, the comic series became far better known after being reviewed (and ridiculed) by Linkara from Atop the Fourth Wall.
Tandy Computer Whiz Kids contains examples of:
- An Aesop: The comics often dive into A Very Special Episode territory with commentary on drugs, environmental awareness, and physical fitness. This was so that Radio Shack could claim the comics had "educational value" and so make them available in schools.
- Artistic License History: According to the Tandy Computer Whiz Kids: Fit to Win comic, the first all-electronic computers were made in America, not England as Linkara pointed out in his "Top 15 Screw-Ups". When the piece of trivia pops up again in the crossover with Superman and Wonder Woman, Linkara deduces that the statement was a bold-faced lie.
- Early Installment Weirdness: In the earlier issues, "Superman and the TRS-80 Whiz Kids: The Computers that Saved Metropolis" and "Tandy Computer Whiz Kids: The Computer Masters of Metropolis" to cite some examples, Alec actually wasn't that interested in computers. "The Computers that Saved Metropolis" not only has him outright state that the only thing he'd care less about is "the history of Brussels sprouts", but even when Superman shows up to give his lecture, he responds:Alec: (eyes closed) Someone wake me up when he's finished! History and computers are boring enough by themselves, but together? Good night!
- Drugs Are Bad: The moral of any of the issues concerning drugs.
- Hollywood Nerd / Incredibly Lame Fun: Alec and Shanna seem more interested in the educational software for the computers they promote than any videogames that the computers may have.
- Incorruptible Pure Pureness: Alec and Shanna, less so Alec in the early issues due to Early Installment Weirdness. They love school and learning, spend their summer vacations doing charity work and/or something educational, and help the police catch criminals out of a sense of civic duty.
- Meaningful Name: If Superman #358 is anything to go by, Alec (at least, in his earliest appearances) was written to be a "Smart Alec".
- Medals for Everyone: The comics often end with Alec and Shanna receiving some sort of commendation for their work in stopping the bad guys of the issue. This tends to occur even when they didn't actually do anything to help stop them.
- Mundane Made Awesome: You will never know the kind of joy and excitement that Ms. Wilson's class (especially Alec and Shanna) feels whenever they get a new Tandy product and happily fawn over its every technical specification.
- Once an Episode:
- Most of the comics open with Ms. Wilson welcoming the class back from their summer vacations and asking what they did over the summer, leading into Alec and Shana talking about something they did that ties into the A plot involving crime somehow.
- There's very often a field trip, typically to some sort of museum or fair going on. For the former, someone there will explain the history of computers to the class; for the latter, Alec and Shanna will set up some sort of exhibition for Tandy products.
- Expect Ms. Wilson to tell the class she has a surprise for them, which depending on the comic will be a field trip, a visit from a DC superhero, or a new computer product for the class. In some comics more than one of these things happen, with Ms. Wilson appropriately saying she has several surprises.
- Platonic Boy/Girl Heroes: Alec and Shanna, of course. One comic heavy implies they're actually siblings, but no other comic does and they act more like good friends than brother and sister; given the quality of the comics and their storytelling, this may have been an oversight.
- Police Are Useless: Until they are enabled with the help of a Tandy product operated by Alec and Shanna.
- Product Placement: Tandy and Radio Shack products, of course!
- Protagonist-Centered Morality: "Community Action Program" chooses graffiti as its cause of choose, with the characters talking about how ugly it is and it ruins the neighborhood, and the characters who painted it are portrayed as the antagonists of the comic. The Whiz Kids decide to paint over it with a mural, essentially painting over the graffiti with another type of graffiti and just using a different word to refer to the two kinds of work. They voice no specific objections to the content of the graffiti (and it's nothing offensive anyway) and make no distinction between the graffiti and their "mural" other than they think their mural looks better, and therefore is morally correct.
- Strictly Formula: The standard story for pretty much every issue is as follows; an A plot involving criminals and/or illegal activity, and a B plot involving the Whiz Kids' class getting new Tandy/Radio Shack computers and equipment. By the end, the Whiz Kids get wind of the criminals and/or illegal activity and help stop them through some usage of the Tandy products showcased. The comics written by DC would tweak this to "the kids get a visit from a DC superhero who shows off some Tandy products (or the Tandy products are showed off separately), then goes to deal with the criminals and/or illegal activity and ends up needing help from the Tandy products".
- The Worf Effect: In "The Computers That Saved Metropolis", Major Disaster infects Superman with microscopic kryptonite crystals, clouding his thought processes and disrupting his control over his superpowers. Alec and Shanna have to use a computer to calculate assorted variables on how to stop disasters Major Disaster has caused.