Re-Posted Review: Blacksad Book 1

Written by Juan Diaz Canales
Illustrated by Juanjo Guarnido

[Editor's note:  This is a review from 2007 back when I had my reviews on the late, lamented Live Journal.  With the newest Blacksad book on sale tomorrow, I thought it might be interesting to share my impressions of this book, which pre-dates the Dark Horse reprint of the first three books by three years.]

I found this one out of a sampler, and the short bit I caught definitely made me want more. I wasn't disappointed. Picture a noir story that's had all the humans replaced by animals, and your hard-boiled detective that isn't afraid to shoot first and ask questions later is...a cat!

A beautiful actress is murdered, and just so happens to be the former lover of our detective, Blacksad. Warned off by his police friend, Blacksad immediately starts to investigate anyway, because that's what noir detectives do. He starts poking around her life, finding an unsavory screenwriter and ties that lead right up to the top.

After some great scenes and allegories--the criminals are lizards and weasels, a large mountain gorilla is a former bodyguard turned boxer--we find that there's someone very powerful that doesn't want the truth to come out. When the police's hands are tied, there only one thing to do--go after the truth himself, while his cop friends turn a blind eye.

In the end Blacksad comes up against what most noir heroes do--an uncomfortable truth, a powerful foe, and a choice that's so grey it makes a portrait of General Lee in his best uniform look downright union blue. What choice will Blacksad make? I'm sure you can guess, but it doesn't make the learning of it any less fun!

This one is a treat all around...the art is stunning, with everything drawn in detail and each animal given distinctive features that helps make them even more human. Canales' diaglog is spot-on for this type of story--the cops talk like noir cops, the shady characters get great lines and scenes, and in the end, you feel like you're right in a Philip Marlowe tale. Find this one if you can!