Review – Blacksad Somewhere Within the Shadows

Written by – Juan Diaz Canales

 Illustrated by – Guarnido

 Published by ibooks

Meet John Blacksad a cat in the shadows. Imagine New York as a city of criminal rats, jazz-playing gorillas and rhino thugs. Enter a mystery where the suspects have tails. Enter the world of Blacksand.

First published back in 2000, Blacksad is a hardboiled noir detective thriller in which all the characters are animals. Think Bryan Talbot’s Grandville crossed with The Maltese Falcon and your about there.

Natalia Wilford a world famous actress is brutally murdered in her own home, her ex-lover John Blacksad a private detective vows to catch her murderer. With no leads to go on Blacksad trawls the seedier side of New York in his hunt for the killer and slowly starts to piece together who and why Natalia was killed. When the official police investigation is stonewalled from above Blacksad must risk everything including his own life to bring the killer to justice. 

This book has all the classic noir thriller ingredients, first person narration, a beautiful femme fatal, heavy use of flashback to reveal characters back stories, the classic messy detective’s office and a blues playing orang-utan (hey any book that’s got a blues playing orang-utan is ok with me).

The story won’t win any awards for originality if you watched enough of the old black and white films that were shown on BBC 2 on a Saturday afternoon when you were a kid then you’ll know what to expect but the anthropomorphic concept is brilliant and the artwork by Guarnido is absolutely stunning and quite unlike anything I have seen before. All the panels are painted and each one is a work of art in it’s self, the use of muted colours and light and shade are sublime. I really can’t come up with any more superlatives to describe Guarnido’s work.

I’m not sure how readily available this book I picked up this copy from my local library but if you can get hold of this book I implore you to do so you will not be disappointed. Handily someone has put a selection of screen shots on Youtube, you can check them out here but beware there are slight spoilers

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N5xge5pr6c4

 Reviewed by

GS Rating – 5/5. An utterly brilliant book with outstanding artwork.

Dry Slaps – None.

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One comment

  1. This looks amazing, just added it to my wishlist. Never heard of it before, cheers for the recommendation!

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