WIZZYWIG is Ed Piskor’s comic about a hacker named Kevin “Boingthump” Phenicle. It tells the story of how he grew up and learned to become a phone phreaker and scammed long distance companies and became a fugitive hunted by the FBI.
It’s an interestingly told story because Phenicle is a fictional amalgam of all the famous hackers of the 20th century (or he at least knows them a la Forrest Gump). The way he’s interwoven with the real history (including the Secret Service raid on Steve Jackson Games, which was my personal introduction to how governments can freak out about hacking) makes it feel very real. It also helps that Piskor is a guy who’s drawn historical work before (including in Harvey Pekar’s The Beats).
So yes, a well-told story that is a good jumping off point for further research of how hackers actually did things (as opposed to their portrayal in ’90s movies about cyberspace). And in the end the parallels to Wikilieaks and Chelsea Manning contemporizes it nicely. Well-done.
It's a shame Piskor didn't identify the real-life stories he drew from for his fiction. It feels like he's trading on other people's experiences without acknowledging them. Still, he effectively portrays the thrill of phone phreaking and the grim drama that ensues when things go wrong. The art is reminiscent of Daniel Clowes, and also Robert Crumb's collaborations with Harvey Pekar - wise influences.
It's interesting why one roots for the main character at all... I think perhaps it's the strength of his friend's affection for him. If someone goes to these lengths to speak up for him, he must not be all bad...
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