In this fifth album in the Blacksad series, Blacksad: Amarillo starts us off with a writer named Chad who, along with his philosophical-to-a-fault poet friend Abe, travels about stirring things up. Abe and Chad frequently clash over writing – Chad’s, specifically – until Chad can’t take it anymore and reacts, well, violently. This is where all the trouble begins. Enter: John Blacksad, the feline FBI detective who gets roped in with everything when he meets a guy at the New Orleans airport and offers to drive his prized yellow Cadillac El Dorado to Tulsa for some cash. Never being able to stray to far from trouble, whether by purpose or accident, Blacksad stumbles upon the two when they steal his car. He chases them all over the heartland while meeting some interesting characters along the way, including a sketchy lawyer/literary agent, some unfavorable circus folk, and a badass biker gang.
Blacksad is the only comic in writer and co-creator Juan Diaz Canales’ utility belt (so far!), but boy has it won a lot of awards; at least one nearly every year since it’s inception. Juan Diaz Canales really nails the noir attitude and especially the comedy: like any great noir there were definitely some lines that made me laugh out loud. Animals as characters are so interesting because we all prescribe different attributes to them based on our experiences with them or knowledge of them as a species. It’s also interesting to see someone’s take on the animal kingdom, and how they perceive they might fit into our society. A cat as a detective makes perfect sense: they are clever, curious and totally unaffected by most things. Now the motorcycle gang made up entirely of sheep? I may not have gone that way, but it was brilliant!
Juanjo Guarnido’s art is nothing short of stellar. He mixes animal features with a few human ones to make a perfect mixture. There is a moment where Blacksad gets upset by something and he snarls a bit, showing his top teeth, just like a cat. It’s not surprising that Guarnido really knows how to capture animals, because he used to work for the Walt Disney satellite in Montreuil, France. He uses that wonderful cartoonish and colorful style, but also the nuances of noir, making for some seriously beautiful artwork.
Blacksad: Amarillo is the fifth volume in the Blacksad series and is making it’s English translation debut. It’s a great stand alone volume that can be read without having read any of the other Blacksad volumes. Blacksad: Amarillo would be a perfect fit for someone who loves Disney movies (from the 90s, especially), the British comic series Grandville, and definitely for fans of noir.
Curl up with Blacksad: Amarillo, available from Dark Horse Comics on October 28th; you won’t want to miss this one.