I'm going to be honest. This one caught me off guard.
I opened it up on my iPad and found myself face-to-face with anthromorphic animals ala
Disney walking through a Louisiana prison.
One of the inmates reminded me for all the world of Roger Miller's minstrel from Robin Hood
On the first page, we find a cheetah female working the stage at a strip club.
What am I looking at?
Then, much to my surprise, these animals started behaving like characters out of Chinatown
They lied. They cheated. They fucked. They killed.
And they did it all in the name of the blues, and, of course, the green.
All of the characters lived in their own silent hell and it became Blacksad's job to pierce the veil of silence and bring about a reckoning.
Set in 1950s New Orleans, A Silent Hell
follows gumshoe, John Blacksad, a black cat, through the murky underworld of musicians, the women who love them and the suits who use them.
Blacksad is the brainchild of Spanish creators Juan Diaz Canales and Juanjo Guarnido. Their feline protagonist has been featured in three other volumes that have been huge international bestsellers, the first volume selling more than 200,000 copies in France alone.
As a native Louisianian and a long time hard-boiled fan, I found A Silent Hell
to be the truest representation of the dark side of my home state this side of James Lee Burke.
While I realize I'm a latecomer to the Blacksad party, after reading A Silent Hell
I am an enthusiastic convert. I told everyone who would listen, from my wife to a comics inclined co-worker, that they should check it out. Last week I showed it to John and Stephe at Comic-Con. To my great sadness, I was unable to track down a copy of the first volume of Blacksad in San Diego, but I will.
Blacksad: A Silent Hell
is, without a doubt, the finest graphic novel I've read in the last decade. To its eternal credit, it is also one of the best works of noir I've read in that same time frame.
A Silent Hell is available now from Dark Horse
Do yourself a favor and pick it up.
You'll be glad you did.