The Adventures Of Comicretailman

By | Thursday, October 27, 2011 1 comment
I found this short comic in a quarter bin a little while back, and couldn't resist picking it up. It's a promotional piece from Retail Business Solutions, Inc. to try to coerce comic retailers to buy into their "Mr. Assistant" computerized sales system. Presumably it was sent to retailers for free. I can't find ANY information about Retail Business Solutions, it's president Larry Wickwar, or "Mr. Assistant" beyond what's presented in the pamphlet. You can learn pretty much everything I know about them in the reproduction below.
Two interesting things to keep in mind here. First, this is dated 1990. That strikes me as something of a disconnect because everything about the approach and the art screams to me mid-1980s. Granted, computers weren't in widespread use with smaller retail shops like you see in the comic industry, but this still strikes me as behind the curve by several years.

Second, the artwork is signed by Ben Dunn. Although the art style is a little different that his later work that I'm most familiar with, this appears to be the same Dunn who founded Antarctic Press in 1984 and created Ninja High School in 1987. His Warrior Nun Areala character was introduced in that title in 1993 and got her own series the following year.
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Anonymous said...

Here is a little detail on Larry (yes the same Larry Wickwar)

The Network is the Computer

Everyone in the IT industry is talking about Cloud Computing these days.

Back in the early eighties, when I was working for Datapoint, I remember the VP of R&D at the time, Larry Wickwar, said that "The network is the computer" in one of his pep rally speeches.

If you do not know, Datapoint is the company that pioneered the LAN (local area network) technology. Its ARCNET had thousands of business users around the world in the seventies and eighties. That was before Ethernet (and 3COM) came along and dominated the LAN industry.

What Larry meant was that with the "distributed computing" facilitated by the ARCNET, the user could not careless which computer on the network fulfilled the user's request. Everything is so seamless integrated. The user issues one command, some computer in the network reacts and renders the service. To the user, the local computing device at the fingertips is the gateway to the magic computing kingdom. The network ties it all together. The network is the computer.

Many years has passed. Now the industry buzzword is cloud computing. This just means somewhere in the network, some computer reacts to the user's request and fulfills the service. The user does not know, and does not care, where in the network, in the cloud, the work gets done.

I never liked Larry that much. Partly because Datapoint went through such a turmoil at the time and the company was at a mess. Larry, being the VP of R&D, did not seem to know how to get his act together except laying off people left and right.

Nevertheless, after so many years, when the phrase "cloud computing" becomes the buzz word for everyone and his brother, for some reason, Larry's words "The network is the computer" come ringing loud in my ears.