Blacksad: A Silent Hell is a crime noir story reminiscent of pulp stories and film noir of the ‘40s and ‘50s.
The Blacksad series of comics all follow the private investigator John Blacksad. What makes the comic different than other noir comics is the cast of characters. All characters are anthropomorphic animals with no humans in the comic at all. Blacksad himself is played by a black cat.
Juan Diaz Canales wrote and Juanjo Guarnido provided the art. Both writer and artist are Spanish and the comic was originally written in French. This volume was published in 2012 by Dark Horse Comics in the US.
In this volume Blacksad finds himself in 1950s New Orleans with his partner Weekly played by a ever optimistic weasel. The duo are hired to find a world renowned pianist and heroin addict Sebastian “Little Hand” Fletcher before his addiction can overtake him.
I must admit that I am a sucker for a good noir story. This comic really scratched that itch for me. It has the tough anti-hero, the story which gets bigger and more complicated the further the reader goes in and last is betrayal.
Don’t be misled by the comic being inhabited by anthropomorphic animals because this is not a children’s comic. It deals with some very adult content like drugs, murder and the racial divide of the 1950s South.
Guarnido provided some absolutely beautiful art. There are some scenes which are drawn with such detail that I found myself slowly looking at the page for all the background details.
Another magical feat witnessed in this comic is how Guarnido was able to design the characters. Being able to design a character which looks like the animal they are portrayed by but also giving them human characteristics. Just think about if you had to draw and balance those two tasks and how hard that would be.
Some credit also goes to Canales’ writing as well. He was able write in a nuanced way and let people’s intentions slowly ooze out without being obvious. All the characters felt very human but also very animalistic. A ram character seemed proud and strong, but a hippo character was strong and thuggish.
The character of Weekly was the comic relief and did a good job of breaking up the tense scenes. He was also never overbearing or too goofing where he would become an annoyance to the reader. I was always happy to see a Weekly scene.
I loved everything about this comic and I had a blast reading it, but I have two complaints. The first is the volume is too short. I wanted more Blacksad and more stories. The volume is only 62 pages of the actual comic with some short 2 page stories and behind-the-scenes stuff in the back.
My other complaint is the price. The volume is $10.99 on Comixology for a 62 page comic is a little expensive.
My verdict is absolutely read this comic if you can find it at a cheaper price or get a friend to loan it to you.