Contraband graphic novel review – mainstream social is dead

April 6, 2021
Louie Fecou 0
Comic Books
Contraband graphic novel review - mainstream social is dead


Contraband is an original and thought-provoking book that will be enjoyed by anyone that enjoys classic indie graphic novel fare.

“Content censorship, sponsored spam, cancel culture and inciter-banning means everyone who is anyone is on the dark web, and no one knows it better than Tucker Scott. Rampant Cyberbullying. Fake news trolling. Spying, voyeurism, and privacy invasion. This is Contraband, the ruthless entrepreneurs’ digital underground — where profit-hungry mobs prowl city streets filming violent events to satisfy society’s demand for sensational content. But when activists hack Contraband giving control to any influencer with the most followers, it’s complete chaos as everybody chases the money and fame to be number one.”

That’s the premise for this graphic novel from creative team Thomas Behe and Phil Elliot.

The black and white graphic novel is a mix of Black Mirror and film noir and has elements that are strangely familiar, and yet disturbing to view through this lens.

With European locations, the slow burn of the story seems almost influenced by films such as The Third Man, with characters traversing the alleyways of Antwerp and beyond searching for answers.

Mobile phones and uploaded content drive the search at the heart of this story, artist Phil Elliot provides us with blueprints of the El Hohl Mobile Phone to show us the extent that phones are to be used in the book.

Viral clips of violent imagery shared through phones are the currency used on Contraband, an app that everyone is on, but just now the focus is on a mercenary named Charlotte who has disappeared in Afghanistan, but as is often the case, the updates and footage have to be more and more sensational to get the views.

Contraband is a sprawling and satisfying look at the culture of uploading content to social media and has a lot to say about the nature of this practice.

The dialogue is crisp and sharp and drives the story forward, however, you need to stay on your toes as you read. Often dialogue-heavy, if you want to follow every nuance of the story, you need to stay alert.

The artwork does well to keep the energy up in a heavily captioned story. Elliot manages to keep the characters recognizable despite his cartoony linework, but when the camera manages to pan back and we see more sprawling panels, you see the extent of his craftmanship. His uncluttered style reminds me of Nabiel Kanan of Exit fame, and it’s only in the static dialogue-heavy scenes that he seems to perhaps be straining at the leash to be let loose.

Contraband is an original and thought-provoking book that will be enjoyed by anyone that enjoys classic indie graphic novel fare.

The story is compelling, the art is refreshing and the complete package is a well-paced thriller that should please fans of this genre that are maybe looking for something a little more thought-provoking than the usual comic book fare.

Contraband can be ordered online. Why not check it out?

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