Blacksad by Juan Diaz Canales and Juanjo Guarnido (first published in French by Darguard, 2000)
John Blacksad is a private eye, prowling the mean streets of 1950s America – it’s the same sort of world that’s inhabited by Philip Marlowe. The only difference is, in this graphic novel series, Blacksad is a black cat in a trench coat, and all the characters are animals.
Juan Diaz Canales and Juanjo Guarnido are Spanish, and both have had long careers in the European comic industry. Juanjo Guarnido also worked for Disney for a time. Blacksad was originally published in French, but was quickly translated into other languages.
The artwork is gorgeous – city streets, snow storms, crowd scenes, night clubs, dappled light through leaves …
I like the old Bogart films, and this series evokes the film noir feeling well.
The first story is about the murder of an actress who was also an old flame of Blacksad.
The second, Arctic Nation, gets political, dealing with white supremacy, in which all the characters in positions of power are white – the polar bear police chief, the arctic fox preacher, and so on, while the Black Claws gang opposing them are all black – a bull, a horse and so on. Blacksad, as the classic outsider, investigates the disappearance of a black child, with his foxy sidekick. I’m not entirely sure what sort of animal the child and her mother are supposed to be – the female faces are drawn to look more human than the male, with the addition of animal ears among the hair.
The third story has politics of a different kind, involving the Cold War, and a professor with a secret past working on the atomic bomb.
That’s all in the first volume – there are three more after this.