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CONTRABAND graphic novel review – Someone is Watching (Behe, Elliott, Sharman, Donovan, Bogadanovic, Taka) Markosia UK

  • Writer: TJ Behe
  • Illustrator: Phil Elliott
  • Inker: Ian Sharman
  • Tones: Cherie Donovan
  • Cover Artists: Mike Bogadanovic and Taka

Thanks to TJ Behe for the review copy!

Contraband takes concepts that are familiar to us and pushes them to their logical conclusion in the future. What is the next step in our fame fueled society where people are obsessed with getting their 15 minutes of fame on the internet? A future where a dark web site pushes people to submit increasingly graphic videos in search of views, to the point that the person can become famous for submitting a video even if they don’t appear in it. In exploring this extreme situation, the title provides some insightful commentary on our society.

But this is more than a cautionary tale, it is a gripping story about a self described citizen journalist who is sucked into a feud between the guys who run the video channel (Contraband) and the activists trying to stop it.  

Visually, Contraband employs a sparse aesthetic. It’s in black and white and the action is minimal. Instead, the title relies heavily on words, full of humorous monologues where the characters (mostly one named Tucker) espouse their beliefs on a multitude of subjects. In this respect, the lettering deserves a shout out, as the speech bubbles often cover a large portion of the panels. 

A few things to know before reading Contraband. First, the story is told out of chronological order, so pay attention to the dates at the start of chapters. It may seem confusing at first, but the last third of the book really ties everything together brilliantly. What I thought was a fairly straightforward story ended up being much more nuanced and twisty at the end. Second, the title takes place in Europe, so some of the slang may seem a bit foreign for American readers. Once I got into the rhythm of the dialogue, I felt it really added to the story. Third, for a story about graphic videos, the art wisely keeps most of it off the page. There is some cursing however, so I still recommend some parental discretion.

Contraband pulls a nice one two punch, providing a subtly deep story while making you think about our YouTube/TikTok/Myspace (just kidding on the last one) obsessed society.

Contraband is now available for purchase either as a paperback or digital via comiXology/Kindle.

Do you plan to read the title? Have you already? Let me know in the comments.

If you’d like to write opinion pieces about pop culture topics or reviews, reach out to us using the contact us form.

Darren Shulman
Darren Shulman
Darren is a professional lawyer and amateur movie/comic/TV reviewer who is lucky enough to have found a wife who is into the same geeky things he is. Darren has been making the trip from Ohio to San Diego Comic-Con since 2009. Other interests include, in no particular order: monkeys, LEGO, dinosaurs, and playing basketball poorly.

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