A Graphic Novel by Juan Díaz Canales – Art by Juanjo Guarnido
I was recently given the opportunity to read the newest volume in a long-running crime noir series called Blacksad, and while apprehensive about the fact that I have yet to read any previous volumes, I was excited to see what this series had to offer. Thankfully this comic, the sixth in the series published by Europe Comics, is fairly accessible to new readers. Created by Spanish authors Juan Díaz Canales (writer) and Juanjo Guarnido (artist), Blacksad tells the story of John Blacksad, a hard boiled private detective cat trying to make a living on the crime-ridden streets of New York City. A former WWII veteran and history buff, John has some fairly unorthodox methods that make him the go-to private eye for more extreme cases, obviously this is a trope that is used in tons of old-school noir stories, and it is utilized here very well. He is aided by Weekly, his weasel “sidekick” reporter for a local yellow journalist rag and a myriad of other animals, young and old. Question is, was it worth it? the answer is very much yes, and I want to read more for sure!
“Everyone’s favorite cat detective is back, and yes, we mean John Blacksad. This time, he’s on a particularly thorny case, as he’s responsible for protecting the president of a mafia-infiltrated union. This new four-volume story of the bestselling series takes us from soaring heights to terrifying depths as Blacksad navigates from the lofty world of New York theatre to the seedy nether regions of the city, where the criminal classes ply their questionable trades. Towering above them all is the figure of Solomon, a construction magnate well on his way to rebuilding the five boroughs, come hell or high water.”
I really liked the dynamic between the young reporter Weekly and his new lady friend, Rachel, an upstart reporter like himself that previously worked in so-called “new media”. He’s obviously smitten with her, and as a result their interactions are pretty comical. Weekly manages to secure her a legitimate job at his own place of work at the risk of becoming obsolete himself due to his outdated reporting and reputation as an “ambulance chaser”. Trying to turn over a new leaf, he is getting close to a man named Solomon for a feature story, who some would prefer be “king of New York City.” I’m sure he has only good intentions, and in no way is involved with the mafia aggression a local union is facing. Maybe I have fallen for a red herring? time will surely tell!
I hesitate to give this a full review as this is just the first half of a larger series, but the amount we have here has definitely made me a fan of this story (so far). Sure, noir stories like this are not uncommon, but the idea of making everyone animals and using differences in animal breed or classification to handle issues such as racism, classism, and other woes of post-war New York City was cool. You might be saying “but, there’s that one Disney movie that does that!”, and while you are correct, Blacksad started twenty years ago this year! In a way, the presentation reminds me more of something like the classic graphic novel Maus, than any children’s film. If you are a fan of gritty crime stories, pulpy noir stories, or are into things marketed towards the furry demographic, this is a solid comic that comes highly recommended. I plan to figure out which would be more cost-effective between digital and print copies and get previous volumes at some point, so make sure to stay tuned for that. You won’t have to wait too long though, because I will be reviewing Blacksad – They All Fall Down part 2 before the end of the week!
Here is a special trailer that shows more artwork:
If you would like to purchase a copy of this digitally, click HERE, The second volume (scheduled for Nov 17) is up for pre-order HERE, and if print is your thing – Dark Horse Comics will be releasing this title as a graphic novel starting in summer of 2022. With this being the sixth in the Blacksad series, and it celebrating it’s 20th anniversary this year, there is no better time to jump into the gritty underbelly of New York City than now.
NOTE: I was provided a copy of this title in exchange for a fair and honest review from Europe Comics, I would like to thank them for their consideration and this opportunity to read this comic.