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Blacksad: A Silent Hell Hardcover – July 24, 2012
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Rendered in a film noir style, the stories are set in late 1950s America. All of the characters are anthropomorphic animals whose species reflects their personality and role in the story. Animal stereotypes are often used: for example, nearly all of the policemen are canines, such as German Shepherds, Bloodhounds, and foxes, while underworld characters are often reptiles or amphibians. Attractive female characters are sometimes depicted as cats. Well, wny not?
The strip puts forth a dark dirty-realist style. The artwork uses clean, realistic lines. Very detailed watercolor drawings, including real-life places and cities, contribute to the realism and arresting (no pun intended) nature of the series. Nevermind the fact that characters are animals.
John Blacksad, for those as yet uninitiated, is a hardboiled private investigator in the New York of the 1950s. He is also a big black cat. Blacksad was raised in a poor neighborhood and spent much of his youth running from the police. Now he helps them. Sort of. Weekly is Blacksad's occasional sidekick. Weekly is a weasel who doesn't much like soap and water and has an odor problem. His nickname comes from rumors about him only changing his underwear...weekly. There's also Smirnov, Police commissioner and friend of Blacksad.Read more ›
Blacksad himself is the just this primordial kind of cool: always getting into situations that are seemingly too big for one cat to handle, always having tragic love affairs, he wears cool clothes, he likes Jazz.
I want to make special mention of the artist on this series, Juanjo Guarnido. This has to be the most gorgeously rendered comic art I've ever seen. Each page is an overwhelmingly beautiful painting, and it avoids the danger that that can entail: namely, that it becomes a bunch of beautiful but static images, not working in sequential form. That's not the case with Guarnido, as these paintings are moving! His work as an animator (for Disney) is in full display, as the action erupts from panel to panel, and the emoting from the characters (both facial expressions and body language) are superb.
The novel is riddled with Film Noir tropes, like shadowy locales, neon-lit streets, murders, mysteries, plot twists, and seedy characters that give the reader a tour of our familiar society's unfamiliar underbelly populated by the criminal and the corrupt. Canales and Guardino crafted some of the most beautifully illustrated and sharply written noir that I have seen in any medium. The use of animals as characters is deceptive, because it could lead some to assume these novels are lighter fare, appropriate for young audiences, but that would be underestimating the maturity of its gritty subject matter. The author himself calls into question whether we, the readers, see his use of animals as symbolism or typecasting, and it makes for an interesting dynamic to analyze why characters are presented as the specific animal they are.Read more ›
For those new to this series - and really, you can just start right here rather than pick up the previous book - this is the world of Raymond Chandler and James Cain; that is, noir. But with animals. Every character is an animal-headed humanoid doing the things humans would normally do. And the book does hit all the noir buttons - the gritty detective, the dames, the drugs, the smoky bars and boozy nights, the fights and deaths and guns. If you love noir, comics, and animals this is your book.
But my problem with this book, like the first book, is the lack of originality in the characters and story. Blacksad is your average gumshoe: he's tough, he's street smart, he's tortured and angry - and he's unoriginal. Same goes for every character in the book. The evil rich guy, his entitled smug son, the working class depicted as honest, salt of the earth heroes, and so on. And the story of finding the pianist is barely touched on because it's over really soon and the subplot of the masked killer is easily solved by page 3 - it's as obvious to figure out as an 80s Columbo TV movie where the bad guy is always the most famous person in the cast.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Awesome graphic novel. Highly recommended for someone who likes art and good story telling along with noir and pop culture historyPublished 2 months ago by david j ortiz
Fantastic storytelling with well-developed characters and amazing artwork.Published 3 months ago by Kim Costa
Blacksad deserved a much needed rest following 2005's Red Soul. After 3 massively successful volumes, a five year hiatus felt appropriate. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Drew Harris
The outdoor scenes with dappled shade are breathtaking (if somewhat visually tasking).Published 7 months ago by J. Wood
A must have book its fantastic, and the art is stunningPublished 8 months ago by Victor Redlevinski
my post-mail reading this book for a long time and I was able to get it only today. but I am very happy! Thank you very much! ^___^Published 8 months ago by Orphen
There is no universe in which I would find a noir thriller set in New Orleans that opens with Sartre anything less than fantastic. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Jennifer Grey