Comics that are cool: Blacksad

As an American comic book fan I love super heroes, I don’t know what it is about them but there is just something about them that American’s can really relate too. But in America it is often times easy to forget that outside of our country and Britain super heroes really aren’t that cool.

Comics are still cool in other parts of the world, like in Japan, but super heroes don’t really seem to connect with the people who buy them. Sometimes being American makes it easy to forget that I have other options when it comes to reading comics, options like the beautiful Blacksad.

Blacksad is a comic that is put out by two Spanish creators in France; it is a noir type comic featuring anthropomorphic characters set in 1920 United States.

The main character a black cat named John Blacksad is a private eye for hire who is unlucky in love and only seems to take assignments he feels morally strong about.

There has been a total of three volumes so far, two of which have been translated into English. However, the third can be found on some torrent sites in a translated format.

The first tale initially introduces us to the character of Blacksad, taking on a assignment to investigate the murder of an actress. Eventually discovering that the murderer was a rich and powerful businessman who could not be touched by the law Blacksad sees no other choice but he himself murders the man. The death of the man is set up to look like a suicide and Blacksad walks away a free man.

The second story follows Blacksad being hired to find a missing little girl. He comes to an arctic town where white oppressive polar bears are in charge and those who aren’t white suffer prejudice at their hands. The white animals don’t like Blacksad poking around and try to hinder his investigation. Eventually, Blacksad uncovers a white supremacist group who is responsible for the kidnapping of the little girl. Needless to say he brings the group leaders to justice and saves the girl.

Finally the third arc is about Blacksad finishing up an assignment in Las Vegas where he runs into an old professor. Blacksad attends a lecture by the professor on the advantages of nuclear power or something of that nature. Blacksad finds that his professor belongs to a sort of blacklisted communist group. Attempting protect the professors life he later finds out that the professor once belonged to the Nazi party but is trying to make amends. Trying to escape the McCarthy era type government the professor returns home to Germany where he is happy to be helping the people there.

The comic is wonderfully illustrated, the artwork is an extremely realistic style despite all the characters being anthropomorphic and it is colored in what appears to be watercolor paint.

The stories are rich and aren’t very long to read, each one being about 50 pages, but offer and interesting insight on problems that once plagued the U.S. or still do.

I was fortunate to read the first two trades when they were in print, having borrowed them from a good friend of mine in high school. Unfortunately they are now all out of print in the U.S. and you are likely to spend about $50 for them used on Amazon.com.

Luckily an English language reprint is supposed to coming out this summer by Dark Horse Comics that collects the three stories. This release is supposed to coincide with the release of the fourth volume.

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