Blacksad is an anthropomorphic animal noir whose title character, John Blacksad, is a cat who solves mysteries. The creators Juan Diaz Canales and Juanjo Guarnido are two veteran Disney Animators who went on to create their own project.
Blacksad’s story is told in three volumes: Blacksad, Blacksad: A Silent Hell, and Blacksad: Amarillo.
Don’t let the talking animals fool you; Blacksad isn’t for kids and it’s not a comedy. Blacksad explores a world of sex, drugs, and politics and is drawn by two Spaniards who have a better grasp of Americana than most Americans.
Our feline protagonist tackles everything from white-supremacy to the dangers of atomic warfare, all while maintaining a solid mystery.
The creators mange to capture the feeling of a noir story without succumbing to its limitations. Each page is filled with richly detailed art and thought-provoking dialogue. Their use of watercolors adds a sense of vibrancy to a genre that’s too often dull and toned down.
The character designs are expressive and incredibly human despite being animals. I have heard it best described as “people who look like animals rather than animals who act like people.” You can even tell what race each character is supposed to be in a way that feels honest rather than offensive.
Blacksad is my go to recommendation for adults who want to read graphic novels. It has the emotional gravitas of the finest literature and the fun you can only find in comics.