By Tamara Waters
We often think that animals have a whole other world of their own. Yet what if humans have never existed and anthropomorphic animals ruled the world instead of them?
The globally appreciated comic book series Blacksad offers a glimpse into that world, while keeping you on edge with its brilliant storytelling.
Blackstack is the masterpiece of two creative Spanish brains, writer Juan Díaz Canales and artist Juanjo Guarnido. The latter was lead animator of the villainous leopard Sabor in Tarzan. This alone tells a great deal about the quality of the comic book series, as his dexterity in conveying human facial expressions on the animal faces is evident in both works
Story that hooks you
This comic books series allows you to go back in time, more specifically the 1950’s USA. We explore the adventures of the main character, a private detective who is a black cat named John Blacksad. He is exactly like the hardboiled detectives of the Noir films – charismatic, determined and often in trouble.
Blacksad is also skilled fighter, due to his time in the military during World War II. He has a brilliant mind and has accumulated knowledge thanks to a short-lived academic life. Like all the examples of this trope, he also narrates his cases with cynical after-notes. Maybe that is what makes him irresistibly charming for the reader, along with the combination of two much-loved things – cats and mysteries. Although curiosity brings this cat to the neck of death many times, he can’t resist another case.
Another uniquely delicious detail about this series is its characters. Each volume digs deeper into the their layers. Aside from our titular character, there are not many recurring ones. Animal stereotypes merge with human forms. Law enforcement officers are often done so through canines, while underworld characters are often reptiles or amphibians. This reminds us of the stereotypical notions in our heads towards animals, while hooking the reader even more into the story.
Beyond style – Blacksad deals with a range of issues
The series may look like it is setting the tones of the Noir detective novels and films with a brighter colour palette, but it actually tackles some more serious and more human concepts too. These include racism, corruption, nuclear war, drug addiction, economic depression and many more. It may not be as gruesomely graphic as some other comic books on the market but make no mistake, this is definitely not a children’s book with cute animals.
Whether for its unparalleled art style that walks the line between human and animal or for its thrilling storytelling, Blacksad is both a visual and a literary delight. It leaves you thinking more about animalistic perspective issues (I am winking at the PETA here), as well as human ones. In the end, you’ll be sitting in your reading spot yearning for more. I know I did.
At thist point, I think it would be safe to utter the exact same words I have used before for Ruben Brandt’s The Collector, “Artistically pleasing, vividly dramatic and uniquely thrilling.”
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