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Wizzywig Graphic Novel Reivew

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Wizzywig Graphic Novel Reivew


Top Shelf Productions


The world of hackers is a mysterious one. This is possibly in part with their unusual “handles” or secret online identities and also because they do most of their subterfuge work behind a computer and not in the public eye. They keep their identities very much hidden, like a superhero or supervillain depending upon whom you are talking to and some of their deeds have a Robin Hood feel to them, robbing from the rich and giving to the poor or just sticking it to the man as it were. Wizzywig introduces us to this world through the experiences of an infamous hacker whose life is one amazing tale.


Title: Wizzywig
Writer/Artist: Ed Piskor
Covers: Ed Piskor
Content: Wizzywig is for mature readers and contains language, violence, nudity, drug use, and adult situations.
Publisher: Top Shelf Productions
Cost: $19.95


Wizzywig is the life story of one hacker, Kevin “Boingthump” Phenicle, and the journey he travels in becoming the nation’s most wanted computer hacker. The story chronicles his first foray into the world of hacking, all the way up to today and the recent Wikileaks fiasco. This is not a happy story of a hero fighting against the powers that be, but rather a sordid and poignant tale of the suspicion and fear of a world that doesn’t know what to do about a new type of criminal popping up in a new and burgeoning world.

The story starts very early on in Kevin’s life and leads us through just how a nice young boy could become someone on the FBI’s most wanted list. We see how the world and the bullies in it continually tear him down and Kevin’s attempt to rebuild himself time and time again. We get a real feel for why someone would go the route of a hacker and truly see the worlds warped perspective of what these people really do.

Wizzywig Page 3

Top Shelf Productions
As Kevin’s life unravels all around him and he continually recreates himself, we get a glimpse at whom the real Kevin is and what motivates him to steal and cheat from others. We see how Kevin attempts to survive the world that would use him and his mind without a second glance. It truly is a harrowing tale that is based on accounts of real life hackers and their exploits.


There was really something with this comic that resonated with me. Perhaps it was the bullying and geekness of Kevin Phenicle that I identified with or perhaps it was how I myself grew up with all this new technology seeing it grow and expand year after year. Although I never participated in hacking to the scale that the character did, I completely identified with the video game replication ring that Kevin set up as me and my friends constantly swapped and traded Commodore 64 games and files like a card collection.

One of the things that was so fascinating was Kevin’s journey from smart kid to the nation’s most wanted. We get some great insight into what would motivate a person to hack phone systems and break into BBS systems. Kevin is a person who is intrigued by puzzles and he sees the whole coding and hacking world as one big puzzle to solve.

Another aspect that was great was the counterpoint between what the public views hackers as and what they are doing and the reality of who these people really are. Some are just kids trying out their new toys while others truly are out the create anarchy. I greatly enjoyed seeing the misconceptions in the media that I remember seeing on TV and what Kevin’s life was really like.

The art in Wizzywig has a lot of the classic indy autobiographical feel to it like some of the works from creators like Crumb and Sacco. Piskor took a fairly minimalistic approach to it, using predominately 6 panels per page and completely using black and white. In the end it worked quite well although I might have enjoyed some more complicated panel work.

Wizzywig Page 7

Top Shelf Productions


This graphic novel is an impressive feat in that it not only tells a compelling story, but also takes you through the history and progression of the hacking world. You get a lot of insight into how these people operate in their scams and how they survive from day to day. Being someone of a very similar age and background to the main character, I resonated emotionally with him and was completely took in with his tale. I’m glad my life has gone in a different direction, but I could see a lot of why Kevin did what he did. I don’t think you have to be a thirty-something techie to appreciate this story by any means, the human interest element should hook you and take you on this seedy ride of the life of a hacker.
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