Archive for Blacksad

Holiday Gift Bag: Blacksad

It’s time for us to take another dive into our Holiday Gift Bag for great comics gift ideas for your family and friends. Today, let’s take a look at Blacksad.


So what do you get when you have two Spanish comics creators, Juan Diaz Canales and Juanjo Guarnido, creating a giant comic book for a French publisher about American detective stories — and anthropomorphic animals? You get something that’s way cooler than you were expecting.

Our main character is John Blacksad, a black cat and private investigator. He lives in a version of 1950s America where everyone is a semi-cartoonish anthropomorphic animal. He grew up poor, he’s pretty easy-going, but you don’t want to make him mad, because he knows a lot about dishing out violence.

What kinda stuff happens to Blacksad? Film noir stuff happens to Blacksad.

In our first story, his former lover is murdered by persons unknown, and he dedicates himself to digging through the muck of the underworld — and their big-money financiers — to learn the truth.

In the second story, he’s called upon to investigate a kidnapping involving a bunch of white supremacists — white fur supremacists, actually — and their leader is a gigantic polar bear who’s also the police chief.

In the third story, Blacksad meets an old friend, his favorite professor from college, and must help him and his associates when they’re accused of being Communists — but being a private eye isn’t going to help much when the FBI and powerful politicians get on his tail.

In amongst all this are shootings, beatings, sex, double-crosses, alcohol, cigarettes, jokes, terrors, sorrows, and a whole lot more.

Verdict: Thumbs up. These are wonderfully told stories, as hard-boiled as you can get, and lushly, astonishingly beautifully illustrated.

The art style is cartoony — Guarnido, the artist, used to work at Disney — but the content is a lot more adult. There’s sex and nudity, and people in these stories don’t bounce back from violence — there are a lot of deaths. In other words, even with the funny animal style, you won’t want to get this for your younger kids.

The stories are for adults — and even the animal characters help emphasize this. There’s nothing that quite shows how silly racism is when the white supremacist group is obsessed with the color of their own fur. Blacksad gets on the bad side of both the Arctic Pride group and an opposing gang of black-furred animals — because he’s got just a little white fur on his muzzle.

But even with characters who are cats and dogs and bears and foxes and rhinos and turtles and owls and gorillas and roosters and lizards and deer and giraffes — there are still plenty of times you forget you’re reading a comic full of animals and start thinking of all of them as just as human as you are. And that’s one of the signs of a hell of a great story.

Got someone on your shopping list who loves hard-boiled detective stories or beautifully-illustrated comics? They’re going to love this one. Go pick it up.

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