By Juan Diaz Canales and Juanjo Guarnido; English translations from Dark Horse Books
One of the worst things about being an obligate anglophone is that I can't really enjoy many amazing looking comics in their native form. Fortunately, a select few French, Spanish, and Italian language comics do eventually get released into the North American market as English translations. Blacksad is an absolute gem of a French comic made by Spanish creators that is now also available in English. The comic follows hardboiled, anthropomorphic Cat-person detective John Blacksad as he solves a variety of cases. From a story perspective the comic is very much a loving, tongue in cheek, tribute to pulp detective stories with a style that celebrates the conventions and wallows in the excesses of the genre. It's great and sometimes pleasantly silly. This style is wedded to some well constructed and exciting mystery plots, all of which are set in a very 1950s animal-people-America and examine some aspect of the period American society (racism, jazz, the Red Scare). But the thing about Blacksad that absolutely sweeps me off my feet is the art: Blacksad is a visual smorgasbord of character work, realized settings, and glorious colouring. Every panel of the comic is like a museum quality Americana painting of an alternate universe populated by Animal-people. It's gorgeous. That said, Blacksad isn’t perfect: there’s some dubious race stuff, women are very sexualized and abused, and the whole thing is vaguely yiffy. But despite this, Blacksad is such a technically good and enjoyable comic that you should read it anyway.
Word count: 248