Blacksad: Somewhere within the Shadows – Juan Diaz Canales

This is a classic noir detective story where the human characters are portrayed with animal faces and characteristics according to their natures. Originally published in Spanish then French, Blacksad refers to the main character, private detective John Blacksad.

The art in this book is superb, as you would expect from ex-Disney artist Juanjo Guarnido. The glossy Technicolor medium of comics finds it hard to do noir effectively without it just becoming murky. Guarnido’s amazing watercolour work and profound understanding of lighting is a superb fit. This truly is a cinematic book, just “like a film on paper” as Jim Steranko’s introduction puts it. The animalisation of the characters is so appropriate it becomes transparent. What better detective than a curious cat right? Just the faces look like animals the rest of the body is human but does retain their particular colouring. The rest of the world is human too with classic automobiles and cityscapes straight out of film history. Although a translation everything looks and feels appropriate. All the street signs, matchbooks and newspaper headlines are in English. The boxes and balloons are oversized to make substitution easier which is a little disappointing as it covers much of the art and draws too much attention to them. The plot is classic noir staple and our hero suitably embittered, troubled and far too curious for his own good. Very enjoyable in every respect. A classic Thumbs Up! 181/184. Tomorrow: Blacksad: Arctic Nation – Juan Diaz Canales

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