It's a bit of a hard sell, a Film Noir styled graphic novel about a private detective in a world of anthropomorphic animals. Since we tend to associate such a visual style with children's entertainment, Disney cartoons and Winnie the Pooh and the like, we as an audience tend not to take it entirely seriously. Blacksad, however, takes the concept of animals-as-people and utilizes it to show much people are animals themselves. The actual stories of Blacksad, the cases that this old unlucky black cat takes on, aren't exactly groundbreaking in their plotting. A Hollywood starlet mysteriously murdered, a little girl kidnapped in a neighborhood blanketed with race crime, and a Cold War intrigue tale of former Nazi scientists and their past coming back to haunt them. None of these yarns are exactly original, but it is precisely their familiarity that allows the other elements (the gorgeous art and social commentary, among others) to come to the forefront and shine all the brighter.
The creators behind the series are two Spanish men (Juan Díaz Canales is the writer, Juanjo Guarnido is the artist), yet it is initially published in France. Dark Horse Comics decided to bring the comic over to the States and have it translated into English, thank goodness. The first volume is simply titled Blacksad, and contains the three stories mentioned above. A second volume, Blacksad A Silent Hell, is also out, containing just one story about a missing jazz musician and a dying prison warden, and is just as great as the first volume. Make no mistake; this is definitely not a graphic novel for kids. In between the covers of Blacksad are murder, intrigue, backstabbing, romance, deadly gunfights, sex, and more. Basically, it's all the glorious elements of Film Noir, now in beautiful watercolor with an extra dose of fur, scales, and other animalistic elements. Blacksad comes highly recommended for anyone who loves old private detective stories.