By Diaz Canales & Juanjo Guardino, translation by Diana Schutz and Brandon Kander
Hardcover, Published by Dark Horse
Out: Now | ISBN: 978-1506730578
Review by Luke Williams
John Blacksad is a hard boiled private eye and a trouble magnet with a difference. He and the rest of the cast of this Spanish created, French published, Dark Horse translated, series of crime stories are anthropomorphic animals. It’s a world of rhinos as criminal hoods, polar bears as politicians, hawks as civil servants, dogs as police chiefs and weasels as journalists.
In this, the first chapter of “They All Fall Down”, previously released digitally by Europe Comics, Blacksad is hired to protect Kenneth Clarke, the President of the Transport Union, from a potential killer. Not coincidentally, the union is likely to be resistant to swathing cuts to the public transport system of New York City. These changes are part of a controversial city wide development, headed by local bigwig Lewis Solomon, an influential man with an insatiable appetite for power.
Blacksad goes undercover as a transport worker to flush out the assassin. In the meantime, Weekly, Blacksad’s reporter buddy, attempts to “befriend” a pretty female journalist who performs in a Shakespearean performing company, run by a friend of Clarke’s, Iris Allan. The seemingly disparate plot threads converge and the stakes for Blacksad and Weekly rise as they are drawn inexorably into a web of corruption.
Guardino’s art is so intricate each panel is a story in itself; dynamic camera angles and lighting imbuing a noirish atmosphere. There is so much detail you can pore over each page and see something different every time you read it.
Canales’ script, translated by Schutz and Kander, is suitably cynical and hard bitten, Blacksad’s internal monologue appropriately world weary. The characters are not especially original, hitting most of the beats that you would expect in a PI story, but it is so well written, and so beautifully drawn, it sucks you in. Sadly, it is a slim volume and won’t take long to read.
While you don’t need to read Blacksad’s previous adventures for the back story, it doesn’t hurt. You could do far worse than checking out Blacksad’s previous cases, compiled into one volume, Blacksad: Collected Stories, which I reviewed here.
It’s been seven years between this volume and the last. Hopefully, the conclusion to this story will be along sooner than that.
• Blacksad: They All Fall Down – Part 1 is available now from all good book and comic shops (AmazonUK Affiliate Link) | ISBN 978-1506730578
• Blacksad in Guía del cómic (in Spanish)
Born in Madrid in 1972, Juan Díaz Canales began his career at 18 for the Spanish animation studio Lápiz Azul, where he and Juanjo Guarnido first met. After Guarnido moved to Paris, the two traded ideas about the project that became Blacksad, a series of graphic albums written by Díaz Canales as a 1950s noir. The writer now juggles scripting for comics and animation as well as directing for television. While Blacksad was Canales’s first published comics work, he has collaborated with several artists, most recently with Antonio Lapone on the Eisner-nominated Gentlemind, co-written with Díaz Canales’s wife Teresa Valero.
Juanjo Guarnido was born in Granada, Spain, in 1967. After meeting Juan Díaz Canales at the Lápiz Azul animation studio, Guarnido moved to Paris in 1993 to join the Walt Disney Studios satellite in Montreuil, where he worked as an animator. While there, Guarnido began drawing his first graphic album, working long-distance with Díaz Canales toward the 2000 publication of Blacksad: Somewhere within the Shadows. The overwhelming success of the title has allowed Guarnido to take on other projects, like Sorcelleries with writer Teresa Valero and the recent best-selling Les Indes Fourbes with writer Alain Ayroles.