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Wizzywig Hardcover – July 17, 2012


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Top Shelf Productions (July 17, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1603090975
  • ISBN-13: 978-1603090971
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.8 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #619,513 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Piskor’s saga of Kevin Boingthump Phenicle, an invented character gene-spliced from various real-life hackers, began as a series of self-published books, was serialized online, and is now a graphic novel handsomely packaged with a Mac Classic cover and Apple-fied Top Shelf logo. In fractured, single-page strips and longer, stretched-out scenes, Boingthump begins as a clever adolescent in the ’70s with a knack for tinkering just below the surface of legality and an insatiable curiosity for new technology (he’s more that lost breed of dissidence, the phone phreaker, than the sort of hacker we associate with the term today). Without much malicious intent, though, he winds up on the FBI’s hit list, goes into hiding when a hysterical Geraldo type whips the public into a fear frenzy, and inspires a backlash among underground figures waging a battle for digital freedom. Piskor’s accomplished, alt-comics-style art will be familiar from his collaborations with Harvey Pekar. Like Pekar’s work, this solo outing is a story of endearing subversiveness, exposing the forgotten marginalia of society. --Ian Chipman

Customer Reviews

It's one of the best graphic novels I've read.
Alt
Ed Piskor has an amazing ability to tell a story with the combination of his art and writing techniques.
Jose
Such a sad, beautiful story, told and illustrated so well.
A. MacFarlane

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Sam Quixote TOP 1000 REVIEWER on July 13, 2012
Format: Hardcover
If you're a fan of Harvey Pekar's work then you'll have encountered Ed Piskor's art within issues of "American Splendor" and the non-fiction graphic book "The Beats: A Graphic History", and while Piskor can draw with the best of them he proves with his debut graphic novel "Wizzywig" that he's an enormously gifted writer as well.

This is the story of the most famous hacker of all, Kevin J Phenicle aka Boingthump who is an amalgamation of various real life hackers like Robert Morris, in one character. We see him as a child in the 70s learning how to scam by getting free bus rides and then beginning his hacking career by figuring out how to get free phone calls from pay phones ("phone phreaking") and copying games for his schoolmates. It's fascinating to see how low-tech the early days of hacking was where it could be done via a phone line and that internet boards existed way back in the 70s/80s as Bulletin Board Systems (BBS).

The book employs a scattered narrative jumping from the present to the past and all points in between so we know from page 1 that Kevin is in jail but we don't know how he got there. The insertions of talking heads in between chapters from Kevin's life reminded me of Seth's "Wimbledon Green" approach to telling the story of a man, and Piskor uses it as well to superb effect.

The story is excellent, Piskor drawing you in from page one as you see this genius child develop into a person able to navigate the modern world with ease whose extensive skills and curiosity for knowledge leading him to become a wanted fugitive after breaking in to telephone companies databanks.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Jose on July 18, 2013
Format: Hardcover
I happened to find this on sale and bought it on a whim. I could not put this down. The story-telling is extremely well done and fluid, the art has this simple, vintage cartoon-ish, superior quality to it. Ed Piskor has an amazing ability to tell a story with the combination of his art and writing techniques. The story is captivating, one that blends a lot of real-life events into one fictional character. The reader follows that character through most of his young and early adult life. The brilliant part of Ed's handling of a hacker story, is that he explains how a lot of hacks work, without getting so involved that it looses the reader. It just makes the story much more interesting (and clearly, Ed has a good understanding of how a lot of these real-life hacks actually work. He doesn't just make up some techie sounding words and some BS technology that has never existed). Great buy, I recommended this to some friends the day I finished it. Ed is now on my list of comic creators to keep an eye out for.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Yakov Hadash VINE VOICE on October 23, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
First, the downside in my view: This book combines the real life stories of several different hackers. If the reader are an expert in hacking history, you can see where certain specific people's stories are coming through in the text, but if, like me, you don't know those stories, this book will be slightly harder to approach. The story being told is fairly unbelievable so it loses a certain amount of value for being fictionalized. I would be curious to know what inspired Mr. Piskor to avoid doing a straightforward comics biography or series of non-fiction biographies. Interestingly, his next project, "Hip Hop Family Tree"*, is exactly that, and I will be keeping my eyes out for it.

Besides that one criticism that I have, this comic book is great comics -- which is to say that the art, pacing, layouts, "interludes" in alternative drawing styles, design, etc etc are all top notch.

If you like this book, you would probably enjoy checking out the works of Piskor's fellow Pittsburghers Brian Maruca and Jim Rugg (Afrodisiac and Street Angel). There's a similar sort of aesthetic coming out of their works.

*Hip Hop Family Tree can be read at the popular blog Boing Boing. It will also be released as a book sometime soonish by Fantagraphics.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Alt on August 13, 2012
Format: Hardcover
When he isn't being beaten by bullies, Kevin "Boingthump" Phenicle Jr. spends his nerdish childhood inventing scams that lead to free pizzas and bus rides. In an era when personal computers are just starting to become popular, Kevin graduates from phone phreaking to computer hacking. He's one of the first creators of a (harmless) computer virus and goes on to have an occasionally lucrative, often lonely underground career, followed by a half-decade of pretrial detention. The number of ways Kevin finds to game the system is fascinating, while his experience behind bars is terrifying.

We're told that Boingthump is a composite of various phone phreaks and hackers. To that extent, his story is familiar, but it's nonetheless compelling drama. I'm impressed by the creative way the story is told. Sometimes Kevin is seen through the eyes of neighbors and friends, family members, and hackers who are apparently being interviewed, as if for a documentary. Part of the story is told by the host of a radio show looking back on Kevin's (pre-arrest) life. Sometimes we see slices of the lives surrounding or observing Kevin's. The attention to detail is remarkable.

Intelligence is an attribute too often missing from graphic novels. Ed Piskor offers a smart take on self-appointed television vigilantes who sensationalize stories to boost their ratings, and on federal law enforcement officers who give more attention to crimes against corporations than to crimes committed by corporations. Apart from its intelligence, the story is emotionally resonant. It's rare to read a graphic novel that's both moving and thought-provoking. I don't often write rave reviews, but Wizzywig blew me away. It's one of the best graphic novels I've read.
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