April 26, 2015

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Operation Pineapple Sparkle by Francois Vigneault


Story by Oren J. Falkowitz
Written and Illustrated by Francois Vigneault
Available online at Pineapple Sparkle
Created for Area 1 Security

Cybersecurity is on the line in this comic that explains the danger of clicking links without thinking in a comic that takes the idea of a training manual and turns it into a much more engaging property.

Created by Francois Vigneault for Area 1 Security, a firm dedicated to helping businesses plug leaks in their technology, this isn't usually the kind of thing we might review here. However, though the topic is a bit dry, I like Francois's art and the lesson to be learned here is an important one for people in their private lives, too. Most folks think of scammers as people sitting in Nigeria offering you lots of money if only you'll give them your bank account. 

However, that's the stuff that only fools rubes and newbies. The real dirt is in e-mails that almost exactly replicate an official message from Google (I speak from experience here, as someone kept trying to Phish me when Panel Patter's renewal was due.) or one that claims to come from someone you know and trust (remember those Twitter DMs that went around for awhile?). Working off the story from Falkowitz, Vigneault shows this end of things, portraying his villains in an office setting that mirrors that of their corporate target, right down to have bosses, needing approval, and even a comic work bonding ritual.


The comic balances a bit of humor with the serious notes, and while there are a few places that have to be a bit of an info-dump, I think that it works overall, thanks to the visual breakdowns and decision to play the story as a mirror image. To help readers know the difference, Francois uses a dark pink for the bad guys and light blue for their target. It offers a nice contrast from page to page as well. 

Vigneault's linework reminds me a bit of Ben Towle here, with a feel that's a bit of a throwback to 1950s art deco aesthetics. I think the use of a dominant color, thick lines (especially the eyebrows) and other touches that Ben also uses to great effect. The offices feature modern tech, but they're also a bit timeless in construction. His characters dress in a wide variety of styles, from casual clothing to a natty bow tie, and they're also diverse, too. It would have been all too easy to just make this comic a bunch of stereotyped hackers with punk tattoos and businessmen in suits, but that's not Francois's style.

Sometimes we forget about comics-as-PSA. This was a nice reminder that they still exist, and can often be fun to read for their own sake. The comic is online here if you want to have a look. Even if you don't care about the subject material (but you probably should), noting the detailing of the linework, the artistic choices, and the great use of color to indicate place are worth a few clicks--once you verify it's a legitimate link, that is!