William Thomas's Reviews > Blacksad

Blacksad by Juan Díaz Canales
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Jul 08, 2011

really liked it

A recommendation from Stan Lee on the cover. A private-eye packing heat and nine lives. I figured I'd give it a try.

Typically, anthropomorphism in stories makes my stomach turn. I find it hard to swallow outside of Aesop's fables, Disney movies or general mythology. I thinks it's cheesy, not experimental. There is hardly ever a time when the characters in those stories are animals for any specific purpose. They mainly act like humans, talk like humans, walk like humans. Their animal traits are muted and it makes me wonder to what end? Why then make the story about anthropomorphic animals instead of humans?

I get it. Sometimes we need to see something at a distance to ge tthe point. Sometimes we need to see animals acting in a human fashion, acting out things like race-hatred and greed to see just how inane some of these things are in real life. But for the most part, I feel it is wholly uneccessary.

But here was a gorgeous graphic novel that I just couldn't put down and read straight through.

Set against a backdrop like a Hollywood pulp movie right out of the 40's or 50's, this book packs a lot of punches. The main character, Blacksad, is a private investigator who practically mimicks Chandler's Marlowe, right down to the sappings and blackouts and running into trouble with the law. But even as a near clone of Marlowe, I didn't see it as a negative. Yes, the book is derivative of almost every wise-ass PI ever came out of the 50's. But it was so solid, so very tangible, that it felt like it was written right alongside those characters and not 50 years after. It had everything that made 50's noir so fantastic- predatory bad guys, femme fatales, murder, vengeance, darkened alleys and city streets, cocked guns and cocked fists. You can call it derivative all you like, but that in and of itself isn't a criticism. This work speaks at volumes so high, it drowns out all of those voices in your head telling you that it's just a recreation of something lost and gone. Like when you watch a Tarantino film. Yes, the entire first scene of Inglorious Basterds is stolen from John Fords The Searchers. But while you're watching it, it's just so good that you don't give two shits.

As for the art, I have to give thanks to such a masterful hand. It didn't matter one single bit that these were anthropomorphic animals. Every line on the paper was fluid, creating movement in every panel that tricked your brain into thinking you were watching a live-action movie. The art was just absolutely brilliant. It was exaggerated in certain aspects, especially in the facial expressions and movements of the characters, in order to make us understand without a doubt what was happening in each and every panel. There was no ambiguity in the artwork or panelling. The color tones are purposefully washed out to remind us of what a throwback the setting is supposed to be. But when you look at the art, page after page, you see how vibrant it really is no matter the washed out color. Guarnido knows exactly what he's doing when he puts the inks on top of those colors because the contrast could knock you out of your seat. And that's really what the art in this book is all about- contrast. The contrast of the facial expressions and the action to the muted colors. The contrast of the line and action. The contrast of the colors to the stark black inks.

A highly recommended book for anyone who enjoys noir, pulp, anthropomorphism, guns, booze and broads.
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Reading Progress

Started Reading
July 7, 2010 – Finished Reading
July 8, 2011 – Shelved

Comments (showing 1-1 of 1) (1 new)

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Ryan Damn. Probably the best user/reader review I've seen for this spectacular volume.


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