Wizzywig, by Ed Piskor
Many people subconsciously associate graphic novels and the fantastic. Largely this has to do with the medium’s flagship genre: superhero fiction. Superhero fiction is, by nature, fantastic. For some, it is difficult to suspend disbelief when yet again, the muscular, conventionally attractive do-gooder stops a train with his bare hands or deflects death-rays with her self-confidence. I paint with broad strokes, but superhero fiction won’t appeal to everyone, especially those who require realism in their stories. To those who have written off superhero fiction as too fantastic, too flashy, and too super, don’t write off graphic novels. Try Wizzywig.
Wizzywig, written and illustrated by Ed Piskor, is a fictional retelling of the early days of computer hacking and ensuing media panic. The story follows the life and exploits of Keven Phenicle, an amalgamation of real computer hackers of the 80s and 90s. Seeing himself as a vigilante of sorts, Kevin’s passion for manipulating technology and bucking the system gains unwanted attention when one local news station features his programs as a way to boost rating and scare viewers. Never one to back down, Kevin continues to tinker with phone and computer systems, even when local and federal law enforcement begin to catch wind. The story climaxes with Kevin’s eventual capture and imprisonment without trial.
Wizzywig is not a light-hearted story. Featuring course language and mature themes, the book focuses on the dark sides of humans; the sides willing to cause and capitalize on other’s misfortune as a means of societal advancement. Even so, the book reads easily as each page separates into four vignettes, just as the book is separated into four distinct sections. This makes Wizzywig easy to put down and pick back up. The book does feature a fair amount of technological jargon, though such words are relegated to the peripheries of the story. Ed Piskor does a fine job of explaining or avoiding confusing, technical concepts, focusing more on the characters and conflict than the code or hardware. To enjoy the story, one does not need extensive knowledge of computers or programming, though I imagine one would gain more with such understanding.
I recommend Wizzywig to readers who enjoy realistic, darker fiction, and to those who are not afraid to try books with more pictures than words. Specifically, I recommend it to Gabe Kusner, who has had the book sitting on her bookshelf for well over a year and a half.
Wyatt is driver/clerk for the Mobile Services Department. He is currently reading Garth Ennis’ run of Hellblazer (Volumes 5-8).