Blacksad by Juan Díaz Canales (writer) and Juanjo Guarnido (artist) is a series of French market noir/hardboiled/PI graphic novels that feature anthropomorphic animals as characters. Somewhere Within the Shadows was originally published in 2000; Arctic Nation was originally published in 2003; Red Soul was originally published in 2005. This edition contains all three of the volumes with Red Soul making its first Anglophone appearance.
The joking side of me wants to call Blacksad furry-noir. Putting that juvenile quip aside Blacksad tells classic PI stories in a hardboiled/noir vein. Blacksad is a moralistic PI cut from the mold laid out in Raymond Chandler’s now famous and oft-quoted essay The Simple Art of Murder. While the stories themselves may feel familiar they are very well done. There are nice twists and surprises and the investigations nicely explore the different strata of the world.
The art is lush and vibrant and loaded with details and specificity. Like Britten and Brulightly that came out last year the art in Blacksad stands out from the current crime comic norm of stark, blocky black and white imagery. While blacks and whites can be effective in a crime comic setting more and more I am becoming convinced that a wider palette of colors serve the crime comic better.
The characters in the world of Blacksad are all anthropomorphic animals. Unlike the art of Jason though these characters are not blank slates. All of the animal breeds are carefully selected and lend a certain depth to the character type that they have been chosen for.
Blacksad is a beautiful crime comic with an interesting take on the hardboiled PI story that would be a nice addition to any crime readers shelf.