This volume compiles the first three adventures of private investigator John Blacksad. The twist here is that the tales are 1950s American noir stories set in a world populated by anthropomorphic animals. Traditionally, comics with such a cast have been “funny animal” stories, and Canales and Guarnido use that to their advantage. Disarming the reader with furred faces, they dive headlong into a world of violence and sex and gray morals. Starting with a relatively simple murder mystery, they follow it with heavy tales involving white supremacists and Communist fears.
As clever as the writing is, it’s the gorgeous art that really makes Blacksad come alive. Guarnido is a former Disney animator and there’s pure energy in his work, an almost tangible joy in pulling the facial expressions from his beastly cast. Appropriate for the setting, Guarnido uses a subdued watercolor palette that’s full of browns and grays and muddy greens; almost a subtraction of color that really adds to the noir feel.
This is an amazing work of period mystery and beautiful illustration that’s going to stick with me for a long time. I hope you check it out and enjoy it too!