Comics and Graphic Novels

Review – Watchers – Luís Louro

Born in 1965, Luís Louro is a comics’ illustrator, graphic designer and author, with several published works. His first story, Estupiditia II was published in the magazine Mundo de Aventuras (World of Adventures) in 1985. After several contributions in several magazines and newspapers he published several solo works, being Watchers the most recent.

In the future portrayed in Watchers, a group of teenagers / young adults uses technology to expose what surrounds them. Without filters, explanations or context, the drones’ footage are disclosed anonymously for anyone that follows them through several channels. Although the first videos are from ludicrous episodes, the concept escalates quickly and soon the theme becomes danger and violence, with no restraints over taping private events.

Sentinel is a Watcher. An anonymous young man, without a face, that can capture the most popular scenes. But at what expense? Sentinel becomes not just a watcher but someone that instigates conflict situations in order to feed his chanel. He stops just portraying. Now he is the generator for some of the scenes, someone that aspires to be a punisher!  

The futuristic world of Watchers is full of young adults without future or ambitions, that don’t know how to overcome any annoyances or obstacles. It is the possible future full of technology. But it is also a critique to our society, on how the media and social networks project a different perspective of reality, creating false expectations of interaction and magnifying the power of ephemeral idols.

The Watchers want followers. They crave attention. This objective may make them forget what is right and wrong. They expose themselves. And others. They want instant feedback and for that, they exploit tainted perspectives of common people and they give in for the most primal desires of sex and blood.

In reality, this is a perspective that we can draw a parallel with existing social networks full of fake news, perspectives tainted with emotional traps and information mixed with sensationalism. In Watchers this concept of misinformation is taken to another level in a logic, well composed and coherent plot. Watchers can have multiple reads and it is up do the reader to find his own.

This book was published in Portugal by Asa in two different versions that have different endings. I would like also to highlight the use of “cameos” of known personalities names (portuguese editors and other portuguese authors) among the followers of the Watchers channel as a private joke available for those that know them.

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