Predicting social media’s toxic voyeurism and greed, sci-fi graphic novel Contraband the Financial Times says “evokes shabby world of compromised morals” available on Kindle for first time
LONDON—Jan. 17, 2021—Contraband, the breakout 2007 sci-fi graphic novel which accurately predicted today’s malignant world of social media, has been released on Amazon Kindle for the first time. Published by Slave Labor Graphic, the book was written Thomas Behe and illustrated by artist Phil Elliott. Contraband tells the story of a hacker who seizes control of popular dark web social media app fomenting violence and mass invasion of privacy—an eerie foreshadowing of today’s tech-driven paranoia and political mayhem brought about as people chase money, fame and power of being #1 online.
Contraband revolves around a self-styled citizen journalist who is forced to hunt down an activist sabotaging a ruthless entrepreneur’s dark web social media app. His search leads him into a voyeur underground where profit-hungry youths prowl city streets secretly inciting, staging and filming violent events to satisfy society’s demand for sensational content.
Critics praise Contraband, with The Financial Times, noting that “Behe’s dialogue brings a hip, hyper-real energy to his plot, while Elliot’s deceptively plain artwork evokes a shabby world of compromised morals.” Entertainment Weekly says “Behe’s critique of the public’s willingness to watch all manner of depravity is a righteous, if not an original, one.”
Contraband’s chilling collection of ideas in an earlier era may seem outrageous – but now commonplace. Dark web social channels serving users banned from mainstream apps. Rampant “happy slapping” that encourages kids to film violent, exploitive acts. Early citizen journalists, empowered by mobile video to chase down clever stories to gain their own online fame. An engaging story in it’s own right, readers are treated to additional intrigue to learn which social privacy predictions have come true.
“We weren’t trying to be prophetic when we produced Contraband – but it turns out we did anticipate some of the most significant and unfortunate trends in the social world,” explained Behe. “It seems many meaningful public dialogues focus on issues coming out in the book – fake news, privacy invasion, video violence in society. But Contraband is intended to be an fun story anyone can enjoy.”
And a fun thriller is what Contraband is, as mentioned by Wired: “The sci-fi thriller unfolds amidst vengeful relationships, insatiable desire, public outrage and mobiles that pack 1,000-volt electric nodes, pepper spray capability – Steve Jobs take note”