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Blacksad Hardcover – June 22, 2010
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About the Author
Juan Díaz Canales is a Spanish animation artist and comic book author. He is best known as the cocreator of Blacksad series with artist Juanjo Guarnido. Originally published in French and Spanish, the series has been translated into many languages and won two Eisner Awards and an Angoulême Prize.
At an early age, Juan Díaz Canales became interested in comics and their creation, which progressed and broadened out to include animated films. At the age of 18, he entered a school for animation. In 1996 he founded, together with three other artists, a company called Tridente Animation. Through this, he has worked with European and American companies, providing plots and scripts for comics and animation films, as well as directing animated television series and animation movies.
During this period he met Juanjo Guarnido, with whom Canales decided to create comics based around a private investigator, Blacksad. After contacting several editors, Guarnido and Canales finally signed on with French publisher Dargaud, and in November 2000, Somewhere Within the Shadows was published. It was a great success with both critics and the public, and was awarded the Prix de la Découverte at the Sierre International Comics Festival and the "Avenir" Prize at the Lys-lez-Lannoy Festival, in Switzerland and France respectively. In March 2003 the second album Arctic-Nation, was released. It was once again a great success, winning the Angoulême Audience Award and the Festival Prize for Artwork in 2004. The third instalment of the Blacksad series, Red Soul, was published in 2005. In 2006 it was awarded the Angoulême Prize for a Series. The author lives in Madrid, Spain.
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This book contains the first 3 volumes in the series. The first one, Somewhere Within the Shadows (2000), deals with a murder case involving a former lover of the titular black cat character, John Blacksad, and he hunts down the killer. Next, Arctic Nation (2002), which is a kidnapping case that takes place in a suburb with a big racism problem. It also serves as the introduction of Blacksad's weasel sidekick, Weekly, who works for a tabloid magazine. Finally, there's Red Soul (2005), where Blacksad uncovers a nuclear conspiracy in which an old friend of his happens to be involved in during the Red Scare in late 1950's America.
While the writing is top notch for a crime drama such as this, the highlight is the art style. Like I said earlier, it's absolutely gorgeous. Each panel is like a work of art. Even the dark scenes are lovely to look at. The character designs have a lot of variety and can range from being delightfully cute to tastefully sexy. However, there are some that argue that many of the female characters look too similar to humans, especially the feline ones. While I can see why it would be off putting to some, I still don't think it's such a heavy flaw the makes the whole comic fall apart. It offers enjoyable stories and characters that will satisfy not only crime drama fans but also comic fans in general.
Blacksad ia a black humanoid cat living in an anthro version of our world where he's a former WWII vet now acting as a jack-of-all-trades private eye. The first case we run into has Blacksad investigating the killing of a famous actress he used to date. Next, he teams up with his on-again/off-again partner Weekly, a weasel reporter, to deal with a racial violence in a case with white supremacists, namely animals that are completely white furred/feathered/scaled. The last part of the first volume has Blacksad taking on the task of playing bodyguard to a turtle on a lucky streak in Vegas, which evolves in a Cold War plot with a corrupt senator. The second volume, A Silent Hell, sees Blacksad and Weekly in New Orleans during Mardi Gras to hunt for a missing blues musician whose wife is about to give birth to their child, but his benefactor wants him found mostly to cover up a past medical debacle. The third book titled Amarillo features Blacksad still touring America after New Orleans, and is first charged with taking a travelers convertible back home, but becomes engrossed with a roaming poet whose actions have lead to a series of violent acts after teaming up with the poet's perky publisher.
This series is still going on in France, with future publications said to come in English from Dark Horse. Each story brilliantly balances the worlds of a gritty detective tale with a look at American society during the 1950s, plus the occasional delve into surrealism and how dreams can wash over into reality. You can read any of the volumes separately on their own, or get all of the visual awesomeness as the intrigue continues.
Please be aware that this book is NOT for kids; though not gratuitous, there are depictions of sex and violence (as you might see in a PG-13 rated film in this genre). No, it's not a pornographic comic book, it's a detective story set in an alternative world which is, at times, messy, with slippery morals and rough lives lived by sometimes shady individuals.
About that alternative world? The gluttons are pigs, the schemers are weasels, the crafty are foxes; in short, the world we see here depicted is populated by various sorts of anthropomorphic animals. A strange deceit? Perhaps. But for my liking, no stranger than the fictional worlds wherein dwell Sith, muggles, or an improbably adventurou archaeologist battling Nazis over the Ark of the Covenant.
With caveats as noted above, highly recommended.
The story itself a little bit to obvious althought the similarities with human society are creative specially now a days that trust is a jewell. I bought it to evaluate its the reading age and yes exactly what i was looking for my students arround 15. Maybe is a good option also for a Comics Club to explore the art in varios scenes.