There is something all too familiar and slightly painful with Ed Piskor’s Wizzywig Volume 1: PHREAK. Poor Kevin is a child of technology and finds interaction with his fellows humans problematic at best. Machines live in a binary world, 1s and 0s, black and white; whereas we humans are a mass of fuzzy logic and squishy parts. Volume 1: PHREAK opens with adult Kevin locked away for “hacking crimes”, crimes that are so new that no one knows how to prosecute. Funny, people think the blurred laws for the detainees at Gitmo are a relatively new concept for America. We forget about the hackers from the “good ‘ol days”, and how our judicial system had no idea what to do… So they just locked them away for months, even years at a time with nary a phone call.
And, it is with a phone call that our dear Kevin finds himself in trouble…
Parents killed when he was but a small child, Kevin lives with a loving if wholly out of touch Grandmother. Kevin only has one friend, and even he has trouble understanding little Kevin. However, like so many kids left alone, Kevin has an incredibly hungry mind. He can never learn enough. Not for money. Not for power. Not for glory. Kevin learns because he wants, no needs, to understand how everything works. Taking a slice of early 1980’s history, creator Ed Piskor drops Kevin in the middle of “Phone Phreaking”, something fans of the film War Games will understand, but you youngsters will simply shrug. See, there was a time when all it took was some understanding of dial tones and access to a Radio Shack and you could place all the free long distance you’re anarchist heart desired.
But this book is much more than an illustrated history of phone hacking.
This is a book about a small little boy that wants the secrets of the universe. He so desperately wants to connect with a world that makes no sense to him. Unlike many other tales about kids rebelling “against the system” (I’m looking at you Youth in Revolt), Wizzywig Volume 1 is charming and heartfelt. When bad things happen to Kevin (and they do, often) you feel sorry for him. Still, Kevin never once wallows in his oun sadness, at least not for long. There are simply too many machines that need cracking, codes that need breaking. Wizzywig Volume 1: PHREAK is a charming and thoughtful look into a character looking for answers in strange and exciting times. Ed Piskor’s writing is crisp and fast, each character has a distinct voice and personality. The art is clean black and white line drawing, simplicity rules the page; yet detail is paid to events that delve deep into Kevin’s mind.
With so many technology themed books taking The Matrix or Ghost in the Shell route, it is pleasing to see a simple tale of where it all began; with a character you want to follow. I, for one, can’t wait to pick up Volume 2 and see if we truly can “Free Kevin”.