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Blacksad: A Silent Hell Hardcover – July 24, 2012

4.8 out of 5 stars 63 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 3 and up
  • Series: Blacksad
  • Hardcover: 112 pages
  • Publisher: Dark Horse Originals; First Edition edition (July 24, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1595829318
  • ISBN-13: 978-1595829313
  • Product Dimensions: 8.7 x 0.5 x 11.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (63 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #223,273 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

By Noel Hynd on July 24, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Blacksad is a comic album series created by Spanish authors Juan Díaz Canales (writer) and Juanjo Guarnido (artist), and published by French publisher Dargaud. Though both authors are Spanish, their main target audience for Blacksad is the French market and thus they publish all Blacksad volumes in French first. A Spanish edition usually follows about one month later. Now the most recent adventure of John Blacksad has made its way into the English language. Comic fans will love it.

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.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I'm not the biggest fan of detective fiction. I mean, I enjoy The Maltese Falcon as much as anybody, but it's not a genre I make a point of seeking out (though perhaps I should). What I'm saying is that you don't have to be a hardcore genre fan to get the incredible appeal of Blacksad, one of the best comic series running today.

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.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Blacksad: A Silent Hell is the fourth novel in writer Juan Diaz Canales and artist Juanjo Guarnido's collaborative noir series that revolves around Private Detective John Blacksad, a black cat. The Blacksad series would most likely be classified as "funny animals" due to its cast of furry, feathered, and scaled characters, but it is anything but "funny". The series is the Spanish interpretation of American Film Noir from the 1940's and 1950's. Film Noir is classified by lead characters usually being a private investigators, moody settings, and the mystery at the center of the story. Blacksad has all of the above, with noir (or black) even being in the title character's name. Blacksad is very cinematic in quality, and reads just like a film. In fact, I am surprised there has not been an attempt to adapt any of these stories to film or television, as they are perfectly suited for it.

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.
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Format: Hardcover
Mid-20th century N'Orleans and Detective John Blacksad is in the Big Easy, hired by the suggestively named Faust, the owner of a popular music label to track down Sebastian "Little Hand" Fletcher, a wayward jazz pianist and the star of the label whose heroin addiction may have gotten the best of him. But as Blacksad investigates the characters' murky lives in this outwardly jovial town, he finds the place riddled with corruption and murder, a bloody trail leading from the poorhouses to the highest levels of power. But there's a killer on the streets and the air is filled with mardi gras and voodoo... and time is running out.

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.
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