How To Go On The Lam: WIZZYWIG V.3—Fugitive

Posted by on February 8th, 2010 at 5:01 AM

Rob reviews the third volume of Ed Piskor’s hacker saga, WIZZYWIG: FUGITIVE (self-published).

 

 

The latest volume of Ed Piskor’s fictionalized account of the life of a hacker named Kevin Phenicle (based on a composite of several real hackers) once again managed to solve the problem of telling a story with a large number of static images. In the first volume, most of the action took place when the character was talking on the phone. In the second volume, it’s Kevin on a computer. (Both volumes can be downloaded for free as pdf’s here.) In this volume, there were many images of Kevin sitting in a library, going through records so as to establish his new identity of the moment. Piskor embraced depicting the mundane aspects of the hacker lifestyle, choosing to remain true to details rather than try to make the stories sexier but less true-to-life. Of course, it did help that there were some actual chase scenes to draw in this book as Kevin tried to elude his pursuers, but only in a very small number of scenes.

Throughout each book, the character of Kevin remained as elusive to the reader as he did to the authorities. It was established that he was baffled by the opposite sex as a teen, desiring contact but finding himself paralyzed by his own crippling self-doubt (as cleverly expressed through the use of second-person narration). Kevin became even more of a non-person in this book, as he literally had to remake himself constantly, both in terms of image and personality. That’s one of the ways Piskor managed to keep the book visually interesting, by presenting a wide array of outlandish hairstyles, clothes and overall disguises Kevin used while trying to stay one step ahead of the law. When dealing with women in this volume, he pretty much saw them as a means to executing one of his many lucrative money-making schemes.  For example, Kevin liked rigging the outcomes of radio contests and used women to accept the public prize (like vacations) and took cash and other items for trade.  He found the prospect of sex with any of these women to be greatly unnerving.

 

 

One always had a sense from earlier volumes, when Kevin would engage in “social engineering” experiments to bilk people out of things he wanted, that he tended to see most other people as a means to an end. As a fugitive, that was the only way he could see other people. Piskor contrasted the misery of a life built on sand with a flash-forward (told through the radio show of his friend Winston) of his hellish day-to-day existence in prison. This is where the touch of the grotesque in Piskor’s character design really shined through. Piskor is skilled at drawing ordinary yet ugly people, in a manner reminiscent of Steve Ditko and underground artists. The way he drew scraggly hair, crossed eyes, bad teeth, and slumping postures gave the reader something to latch on to visually when there was not much action on the page.

The most interesting aspects of the book are the real-world guides to living as a fugitive, like a step-by-step set of instructions on how to create a new identity, the best way to squat in a vacant house, or how to run any number of hustles if you sniff out the right sort of low-life (like a pimp or movie producer looking to spy on his wife).

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