In this feature, I ask comic creators that I like a lot to recommend a great comic that they’d like to see spotlighted. They pick the comic and then I write a review of the comic (of course, this runs the risk of them picking a comic that I don’t like, but there’s so many great comics out there to pick from that I find it hard to believe that that will ever actually happen).
Today’s creator is Joelle Jones, the great artist on such titles as Helheim and Brides of Helheim for Oni Press (with Cullen Bunn), 12 Reasons Why I Love Her and You Have Killed Me (OGNs with Jamie Rich), House of Night (for Dark Horse, based on the P. C. Cast and Kristin Cast novels) plus a number of projects for DC Comics, Vertigo, Marvel and more. She is currently drawing and co-writing (with Jamie Rich) an excellent new series for Dark Horse called Lady Killer. Joelle’s choice is Blacksad by writer Juan Díaz Canales and artist Juanjo Guarnido.
NOTE: For the basis of my review, I’ll be using the 2010 Dark Horse translation of the first three Blacksad albums that they collected into one book.
The concept of Blacksad is a simple enough one – it is a noir detective drama (John Blacksad being the detective), only all of the characters are anthropomorphic animals. Set in a fictionalized 1950s United States, the plots for the stories are your basic ones that a detective would get involved in in most crime fiction of the era.
Canales comes up with some intriguing storylines for Blacksad to get involved with and Blacksad himself is a compelling lead. He has a good deal of charisma. The only two regular supporting characters, Weekly (Blacksad’s man on the streets and basically his sidekick) and Smirnov (the police commissioner and Blacksad’s good friend) are given a lot of room for depth, as well.
The star, though, of the book, is Guarnido’s artwork. It is absolutely gorgeous. Check out this sampling from the first album, where Blacksad seeks revenge on the murder of an actress that he used to date. First he reflects on how they got together…
Gorgeous, right? The use of colors, shadows, design – it’s all just amazing work.
The other two stories in this collection are a take on “White power”…
and a look at anti-Communism…
Canales continually comes up with intriguing characters for each installment (typically there is a female love interest for Blacksad in each case) and Guarnido never fails but to be outstanding on every page.
It is little surprise that this book is such a huge hit over in France (the creators are Spanish, but the book was made in France).
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