Wizzywig is an in-depth look at the incredible life of a computer hacker that draws readers in with its wonderfully thoughtout characters and deceptively simple art. Ed Piskor has crafted an engaging tale that asks big questions about government, security, and the role technology plays in our lives, but in the end is really about two best friends who refuse to give up. The book is massive for a graphic novel, clocking at almost 300 pages, but with the use of dynamic layouts, incredible art, and great character work, Piskor makes sure the book is a delightful read from cover to cover.
Now, I am in no way a computer expert. I am computer literate but know when to call the experts. Piskor does an amazing job of telling this great story about computer hacking with layman’s terms that anyone can understand. Where his genius really shines is in his characters. I immediately felt for Kevin and Winston. He makes sure that you can understand where these guys are coming from and why they would do what they did. He also does a great job showing that although they may never have intended to hurt anyone, their actions do have consequences and they are not entirely innocent. He expertly straddles a thin line between making his characters likeable, while not portraying their actions as heroic.
Where his book really takes an interesting turn is in his portrayal of the media. Kevin’s life is made incredibly difficult by the role the media plays in it, but he also becomes a cog in that machine. Part of what makes this book so wonderful is the very human theme of necessary evils that keeps cropping up throughout the graphic novel. This book asks readers very big questions about the roles that things like media and technology play in our lives, but, wisely, Piskor never answers these things for his reader. Instead, he leaves them open ended, so that readers may make up their own minds.
Piskor’s art is incredible. He uses simple character designs that you may expect to see in an Archie book but manages to convey a lot of emotion and drama through them. He plays well within the black and white medium, utilizing shadows to create the sense of isolation and loneliness that intrudes on the life of a hacker. Piskor even breaks up the story by constantly changing perspective from character to character and making slight alterations to the art with each character’s viewpoint. This allows him to play with the idea that the perception of Kevin is greatly different than the reality.
Wizzywig shows a higher level of art and maturity that is starting to creep into graphic novels. This could very well have been a bestselling novella, but Piskor’s art enhances it and makes it a much more unique experience. He proves that we can expect something more from comics than just superheroes in tights; they can also be a tool for raising social awareness just like a good book can.