Archie’s Ham Radio Adventure

archie_1When I was a kid I used to devour the old Archie “double digest” comics. Maybe it was because we are both redheads — but mostly because hanging out around the magazine and comic section of the supermarket gave me something to do while my parents were shopping.

That was back in the early 1980s. I’d largely forgotten about Archie comics until Monday of this week. In the past few weeks I’ve started “getting into” comics and graphic novels, mainly classic superhero stuff from DC, Marvel, and various indy publishers, like Image.

I’ve been trying to convince my buddy Stewart to join me in ham radio for some two years now. On Monday he texted me:

“Hey man, when’s your birthday?”

As a matter of fact, my birthday was that very day.

“No kidding? This was meant to be. Come by when you get a chance.”

I was intrigued, and stopped by his home after work on Monday. He produced a large box full of comic books, mostly stuff from the 1990s.

“I found this up in the attic today.”

He dug around in the box a bit and unearthed this gem: “Archie’s Ham Radio Adventure.”

I just about fell over. Without a doubt, one of the coolest birthday presents ever.

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Published by the ARRL around 1986, Archie’s Ham Radio Adventure is a nice survey of the amateur scene of the mid-80s, apparently intended to draw young people into the hobby. The book specifically touts ham radio’s role in EmComm, the then-exciting technology of packet radio, UHF and above (“1.2 gigahertz — a funny word with a big future”), space communications via OSCAR and EME, the “secret code” of CW, the inexpensive nature of the hobby (I keep hearing about how inexpensive this hobby is, lol), and of course, the ability to talk to hams around the world.

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It’s neat stuff, all rolled into an absurd adventure story that ends with Archie saving the day when he lobs a weighty handy-talkie at the antagonist’s head. Political incorrectness also ensues (“he’s fast for a fatty!”), the character Dilton scores points with Veronica and Betty for being a packet wizard (seriously?!?) and we learn Veronica’s dad apparently has the hamshack of the gods.

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I regret I never had the chance to read this when I was a kid, as it probably would have inspired me to be a ham at an earlier age, provided I could pass the code requirement of course. The ARRL did a solid job on the book, and includes a code chart on the back cover that uses the sounds (dah-dit, di-di-di-dah, etc.) rather than the common practice of dot and dash notation.

I’m including a scan of the book in case anyone would like to check it out. Hopefully the ARRL doesn’t mind! It’s really a cool fusion of comic culture and ham geekery. Although I have to think “Batman’s Ham Radio Adventure” would have been a little cooler…

 

 

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8 thoughts on “Archie’s Ham Radio Adventure

  1. Andy, I just found your blog post via Google and was going to post your images from the Archie comic on my Facebook page. The longtime Archie artist who drew the comic, Stan Goldberg, passed away yesterday at age 82. I’m a ham myself who’s also a cartoonist who’s worked for Marvel Comics, =and= I’m a lifelong fan of Archie Comics; in fact, I was drawing cartoons for QST about the time this comic was published. While I enjoyed the comic on its own terms, I agree with you, the League would have been better served to use a superhero comic to reach teenagers — Archie comics are actually aimed at a younger demographic, and mostly female at that. But, hey, they never asked me … 😉

    73,
    Jim Massara, N2EST
    http://www.hamtoons.net

    • Jim thanks for your comment and for stopping by the site! It’s a pleasure to meet you, as I’ve turned into a rabid comic book fan as of late. Love your site too BTW. I’m very sorry to hear that Stan Goldberg passed away. Joining ham radio with Archie’s universe must have been quite a challenge!

      I see from your website that you are from Atlanta and designed some cards for DragonCon. I was JUST there! I spent most of my time in the basement of the Hyatt enjoying the comic track panels!

  2. Great job on the scan and thanks for sharing the comic! I enjoyed it and will pass it on to my kids who are both aspiring HAMs. de KC3DIG

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