Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Must Read - Blacksad

Noir anthropomorphic animals. That would be the quick way to tell you what you're going to get from Blacksad, but it would be too dismissive and easy. What you really get out of this is art that is beyond amazing, a story that is familiar yet still compelling and characters that are so real, that you forget they are talking animals. Well, actually, it's not that you forget. It's more like you accept it wholeheartedly as if it's just the way it's supposed to be.

Blacksad: Somewhere Within the Shadows, written by Juan Diaz Canales and illustrated by Juanjo Guarnido came out in 2000. John Blacksad, P.I., is called in to the scene of Natalia Willford's murder, an actress who Blacksad has a past with. We follow Blacksad as he investigates her murder. The story itself is nothing new. If you've ever seen a noir film or read a noir book, it's pretty standard. And there's nothing wrong with that because it's done so well.

While it would be easy to do something like this and rely on having the animals be animals in very over the top ways, that is not what happens here. Every character is true to their species, but at the same time are very human. Instead of it being jokey, they reflect parts of humanity that are normally exposed in this type of story without falling into cliche. Helping this along the way is the beautifully rendered art of Guarnido. His characters behave on the page, rather then just exist. It's easy to get lost in the poses he draws and how they evoke such real movement, emotion and motivation. To top it off, the amount of detail in each panel is staggering. The backgrounds come alive. The city is a real place. Each room is a real room. It was hard to turn a page without thinking how great this book was. It's no surprise that worked as a Disney animator. This could pretty much play as a silent comic, with just the art, and it would still be great. And that's not to shortchange the writing. The characterization is spot on as well. Every few panels I was struck by just how much I was loving this book.
I don't know why I never read this before, but now, it is easily on my best of all time list. I cannot recommend this more strongly. There are several volumes out, in hardcover and I now plan on buying them all. I can't wait to read more about Blacksad.

Another thing I can't wait to read is the new G.I. Joe issue that comes out today from IDW. The series is restarting with this issue after the death of Cobra Commander. This series has not been the G.I. Joe of the 80's. It's G.I. Joe in the real world, while still using some of the craziest characters they ever came up with in the 80's. You should go back and read all the previous IDW series, but this may be a good jumping on point, too.

No comments:

Post a Comment