on 4 April 2013
This hardback book collects the first three out of the four Blacksad books. As far as I know this is the only way to get hold of volume three in English. It is either long out of print or was never released as single volume. It is great getting all three stories in a sturdy hardcover. Here are my reviews of the individual stories.
Blacksad: Somewhere within the Shadows
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 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!
Blacksad: Arctic Nation
Cats and racism. Not something you would instantly think of putting in the same book. Detective John Blacksad takes on the case of a missing girl and uncovers a murky world of prejudice.
This is a difficult book. The setting has shifted from generic Western country to unmistakably USA. A noire pulp detective story is hijacked by a civil rights, Nazi, KKK theme in a most unsubtle way. There is also a lot less polish evident as some clunky bits of dialogue or translation spoil the flow.
Beneath these awkward elements is a very good detective story, although you never get enough details to figure it out yourself and must wait for the reveal at the end. The art works very hard and the varied locations give a lot of scope to showcasing Guarnido's talent. The lighting isn't quite as majestic as the previous volume but there are some really good choices in terms of colour and tone. There is more sex and violence in this book and both are handled successfully.
Not the most convincing follow-up but worth checking out for the elaborate plot. Thumbs Up!
Blacksad: Red Soul
This is an outstanding tale. A Hitchcockian thriller with communists, bohemians, fascists and a beautiful woman. You even get to find out what animal Hitler would be. Blacksad is more of a witness to unfolding events than a detective solving the case. He does however have a proper romantic entanglement like every gumshoe should.
The art is great as always with a fantastic scene at an aquarium. There are some wonderful colour contrasts too with real emotion being conveyed through the palette. There is more sex in this volume but it is beautifully and tastefully portrayed and conjures a real sense of intimacy.
A strong Thumbs Up!
on 31 July 2013
This product is huge value for money. You get three graphic novels in one, in an oversized, full colour, hardcover book. If you want to start reading Blacksad, this is the book you should start off with, followed by Blacksad: A Silent Hell.
You follow John Blacksad, a feline humanoid and Private Investigator, as he takes on various cases. I loved it.
The story is told in classic murder mystery / cops and robbers style. A similar atmosphere to "Dick Tracey", "Who Framed Roger Rabbit" and "Fish Police" the cartoon. The characters are anthropomorphic, in that they are animals that walk and talk like humans. I purchased this purely because I am an anthropomorphic comic book fan. If you like "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles", or "Usagi Yojimbo" you will love this book. But because the artwork is so realistic, I think it would appeal to any comic book fans craving a serious read. What I love about this series is how seriously detailed it is.
The creators put as much realism into the characters and story as any human based story does, but the characters just happen to be animals. All the animal puns are quite funny, but it's dark too. Blacksad is a tough, darkly portrayed character, but he's also the hero.
If you love comic books, cats, animals, murder mystery or just a good "tail", then I think this would be a great choice.
I recommend this and hope for more. ^w^
on 9 April 2012
Blacksad is amazing. The art is out of this world. Rendered in a film noir style, the stories are set in late 1950s America. All of the characters are anthropomorphic animals whose species reflects their personality, character type and role in the story. The personality of a character is often potrayed by what animal they are : for example, nearly all of the policemen are canids, such as German Shepherds, Bloodhounds, and foxes, while underworld characters are mainly reptiles and mice. In Red Soul(the third story in the book), Adolf Hitler is portrayed as a cat (possibly in homage to Art Spiegelman's Maus), Senator Joseph McCarthy as Senator Gallo (a cockerel), Mark Rothko as Sergei Litvak (a bear).The main character is John Blacksad (a hardboiled private investigator who is portrayed as a black cat).This book was bought for me by my mum for Easter and recommended by my local Waterstones. It is becoming one of my favourite books and is a 'must read' for any fan of graphic crime fiction and film noir.
PS: It's better than Maus!
on 25 August 2012
I picked this comic up after seeing a sample of some of it's art. The artist previously worked for Disney and has some amazing skills, which show in his ridiculously detailed backgrounds and the way he humanises his characters while keeping their animal designs.
Art where animals act like humans has kind of a bad rap around the internet. It gets given the 'furry' label a lot, referring to a subculture who like humanised/anthromorphized animal art, and since a lot of furry art is smut the comics get dismissed as smut too.
That's no use at all, because while some comics with humanised animals unfortunately go this route the best ones don't. To name a few: Lackadaisy (a gorgeous free-to-read online comic dealing with the dangerous life of rumrunners in Prohibition-era America, using anthro cats), Maus (the story of a Holocaust survivor, using mice) and of course Blacksad.
This collection contains three volumes of the comic, making three separate stories. It starts out with that old noir cliche 'the beautiful woman I loved is mysteriously dead' which felt like I was re-reading Sin City, but it was a great opportunity to see hardboiled detective John Blacksad' struggling to deal with loss. From there the writer/illustrator team take on bolder, braver territory, and it works fantastically. Second volume Arctic Nation takes on racism and inter-racial violence, and seeing animals act like racist dirtbags to other animals somehow reinforces how horrible this is when done by humans. Third volume Red Soul takes things an even further step up, bringing in communism and nuclear power struggles.
With flawless, amazingly detailed and expressive art and tactful, powerful storytelling, this collection is a gem amongst European comics. Highly recommended to all fans of comics like Sin City, Lackadaisy or Maus, or people who just want to look at some brilliant art.
on 21 August 2011
I was recommended to read this graphic novel by a colleague of mine, He kept raving about the fantastic artwork and the gripping story. I purchased a copy from Amazon and duly read it. I was not disappointed.
On the surface Blacksad is a funny animal story in the tradition of mid twentieth century animation and comic art. But this tale runs deeper than this, for this is as much as an allegory of 1950's America with blacklisting, racial upheaval, cold war tensions and ex-Nazi scientists. On top of this is the excellent character, Blacksad, a black cat detective trying to get to the bottom of the three mysteries contained within this volume, ably assisted (or hindered) by Weekly, a ferret with hygiene issues. Think Walt Kelly's sharply satirical Pogo crossed with the noiresque writing of Raymond Chandler with a dash of cold war conspiracy.
The artwork is superb. Juanjo Guarnido's beautifully rendered, mellow watercolour and ink washes add to the mood of this story, while his ability to capture the gamut of expressions in his characters is some of the finest that I have seen.
If you enjoyed Bryan Talbot's Grandville, then I would strongly recommend this.
on 2 April 2016
I often look for something new in graphic novels as it's easy to become swamped in the same old superhero stories but this really caught my eye
It's not just the amazing Disney style artwork or the film noir feel of the characters it's all together something better.
The books themselves are study and will look great on any shelf and the paper quality is great.
But let's get to the story. Blacksad follows the adventures of a gritty 1950s detective who want to make the world a better place but is realistic in what he can achieve. He gets violent against criminals who deserve it but also shows his tender side when dealing with the victims. Oh and he's also a panther.
This is what makes blacksad unique. By removing all human elements the creators are free the really go wild in the expressions of the characters.
Totally recommended but definitely not for children.
on 15 June 2013
European comic books stand out mainly because of the art and story telling. Blacksad is a gritty piece of intelligent noir set in a world that is reminiscent of 30s America. This book is one of most beautiful pieces of comic book art I have in a long time. Stories are excellent.
on 11 August 2012
Blacksad is a book of 3 comics, filled with dark humor and real-life moments (such as the black/white thing that Of Mice and Men is based on... The actual name of the event escapes me) and so forth quite- An interesting book, actually. A bit adult for my liking, but not TOO over the top as far as... aherm... showing things goes.
It follows the story of John Blacksad- a black cat with a white muzzle who is a private inspector, and pretty good at his job. He spent most of his childhood running from the police but now enjoys helping them and flirting with women.
The artist was once one of Disney and occasionally you can see the work jutting through on the expressions.
I really loved this book and I recommend it to any animal-lovers and murder mystery fanatics!
on 15 December 2011
Blacksad is one of those rare graphic novels that captures the reader with a combination of exquisite art and dramatic story-telling and excellent pacing. It looks back into the great American noir classics with a fresh sensibility. The unexpected use of animal characters brings new symbolism to the typecasts of the noir story and flawless taste of the artist in rendering them in a mature, grown-up way is perfection. Every panel is a piece of art on its own.
This collection is a wonderful hardcover edition that makes a great gift for collectors and plain fanciers alike. I bought it as a little present for myself after the recommendation of a friend and I've not regret it. It's an amazing graphic novel to have and read.
on 14 August 2011
This is my first ever review on amazon, but I loved this graphic novel so much I felt I should share! (particularly since I often use reviews when making purchasing choices). This is a beautifully drawn, wonderfully realised collection of three noir stories featuring the detective 'Blacksad'. As others have said before me the anthropomorphic animal characters are not used in the usual cliched fashion, but more add an extra layer for characterisation, and should definitely not put the reader off as the idea contributes wonderfully to the stories. I cannot recommend this book enough!!