One of the earliest dreams I can recall having was a crime film in which Pokémon characters Ash and Misty starred roles similar to those of Bonnie and Clyde. It was a strange dream, so I’ll spare you the details, but I will say this: that dream cemented my love for film noir. The muted colors, the monologues, and the gritty plots are all things that I utter adore to this day. So when Tomato Surprise recommended this little number to me, knowing my love of crime stories, I picked it up post-haste. And the stories told within this collection were nothing sort of amazing. Hello, I’m RacattackForce, and it’s time to solve a crime in the seedy underbelly of this dark, dank city.
Artist(s): Juanjo Guarnido
Publication Dates: 2000, 2003, 2005
Set in a late-1950s America filled with anthropomorphic beasts, the series follows the various investigations in which titular character John Blacksad partakes. The three stories within this collection focus upon a murder case, child abduction, and the heated atmosphere of the Cold War. And despite the use of “funny animals” as the main characters, Blacksad is one of the most serious comic books I’ve ever read. It deals with real issues and isn’t afraid to shed light on even the darkest of details. The classic monologue staple of the genre is present, with the audience always knowing just what John is thinking, with the exception of times when Díaz Canales wishes to make a huge reveal (i.e., Arctic Nation). Other classic noir themes include corruption, betrayal, revenge and, of course, sex.
The artwork is absolutely stunning, a labor of love by Guarnido, whose attention to detail blows me away. One thing that needs to be addressed are the facial expressions. They range from subtle to exaggerated and from serious to silly. The body language of the characters also is well-done enough to carry the entire comic sans dialogue. Everything about the art makes these characters clearly human, with anthropomorphism just in place to more clearly display the personality of these characters. That said, I love that aspect of the comic. Rather than go black-and-white for this endeavor, the artist chose to use tried-and-true watercolors. This results in a nice, muted look that succeeds in cementing the atmosphere of the series.
When it comes right down to it, Blacksad is a wonderful series. If you like action, if you like mystery…if you like drama, suspense or even adventure, this is truly a series for you. The four/five-year wait between each installment is 100% worth it, and a fourth installment lands in France next month. Too bad the next English collection likely won’t be out for another ten years…