Wizzywig

Wizzywig

Portrait of A Serial Hacker

Graphic Novel - 2012
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They say What You See Is What You Get, but Kevin "Boingthump" Phenicle could always see more than most people. In the world of phone phreaks, hackers, and scammers, he's a legend. His exploits are hotly debated: could he really get free long-distance calls by whistling into a pay phone? Did his video-game piracy scheme accidentally trigger the first computer virus? And did he really dodge the FBI by using their own wiretapping software against them? Is he even a real person? And if he's ever caught, what would happen to a geek like him in federal prison? Inspired by the incredible stories of real-life hackers, Wizzywig is the thrilling tale of a master manipulator, his journey from precocious child scammer to federally wanted fugitive, and beyond. In a world transformed by social networks, data leaks, and digital uprisings, Ed Piskor's debut graphic novel reminds us how much power can rest in the hands of an audacious kid with a keyboard.
Publisher: Marietta, GA : Top Shelf Productions, 2012
ISBN: 9781603090971
1603090975
Characteristics: 286 p. : chiefly ill. ; 24 cm
Alternative Title: Portrait of a serial hacker

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SCL_Justin Jul 24, 2017

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.

Mark_Daly Jul 19, 2013

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.

s
starvark
Aug 10, 2012

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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