Blacksad: A Silent Hell

Juan Diaz Canales, Author, Juanjo Diaz Guarnido, Author, Juan Diaz Canales, Illustrator, Juanjo Diaz Guarnido, Illustrator
Juan Diaz Canales and Juanjo Guarnido. Dark Horse, $19.99 (96p) ISBN 978-1-59582-931-3
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If Walt Disney ever made an adult-themed, anthropomorphic Philip Marlowe movie, it might resemble this popular series. In this fourth outing for the titular feline detective, Blacksad is enlisted to locate a missing, drug-addicted blues musician in 1950s New Orleans. He uncovers an old conspiracy involving a poisonous “miracle medicine” and its effect on the musical legacy of the Big Easy; the story parallels the history of drug abuse among great American blues and jazz musicians. Canales’s plot is populated by a colorful mixture of Americana: burlesque houses, snake-oil merchants, Mardi Gras, and the haunted soul of the blues are all key elements in this vibrant, atmospheric noir mystery. The authentic local details of Guarnido’s art are balanced by whimsical character design and humor reminiscent of early Disney animation. The volume also contains a lengthy “behind the scenes” feature in which the creators present early watercolor roughs of the story paired with text describing their process and the particular challenges—both narrative and visual—posed by this story. Informed by deep reading of genre fiction and American cultural history, it’s another hit for Blacksad. (July)
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