6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Best indie comic book of 2012!,
This review is from: Wizzywig (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. The fugitive section is a thrilling read as we see Kevin survive on the fringes of society eluding the FBI at every turn, we also see the down side to hacking/scamming as he clings on in dingy bedsits working menial jobs for barely any money.
While the book is a look at hackers, it's also an examination of media hype and fear-mongering and the use of sensationalist news to misinform people and manipulate them into believing almost anything. This culminates with the imprisonment without trial of Kevin in the United States, "the land of the free".
There are lots of little asides that are very entertaining like a short story featuring a young Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, and there's also a cameo featuring Harvey Pekar as a pizza store owner.
I loved this book. It's thoughtful and clever, Ed Piskor's style merges great art with a natural storytelling prowess to tell the fantastic story of a sub-culture which continues to be a source of interest today (Anonymous, Wikileaks). "Wizzywig" is a tremendous debut from this talented artist and is recommended not just to all comics fans but for any reader who's looking for a fun and utterly absorbing read.