In a surprisingly unanimously positive meeting of the Mad Graphic Novel Group we discussed Blacksad by Juan Diaz Canales (writer) and Juanjo Guarnido (artist).
Set in a cinematic noir world the tales (no pun intended) are told using what is best described as animalized humans, where the personality of the character is visually represented as the human taking on the characteristics of the animal they are stereotypically closest to, a person you would describe as a “rat” in this universe would look like a rat. This unusual technique works really well because Juanjo is an incredible artist making even the most ridiculous image seem gritty and realistic but also because Canales writes uncompromising brilliant detective stories that would work in any medium. Using the character of John Blacksad a Private Investigator they weave a selection of short stories.
The least popular story was, Somewhere between the shadows, the most stereotypically Noir of the three tales told. No-one seemed to actively dislike this story but it was felt that the second and third stories were much more rounded and the creators appeared to be increasing in confidence at they continued with the universe.
I didn’t count but the second and third story seemed to be equally popular with both sides having very interesting reasons for their preference. Arctic Nation about inter-racial violence and segregation was popular because it dealt well with difficult themes and introduced the slightly more cartoony character of Weekly. Red Soul a story set a moment before the beginning of the great red scare was liked because of it’s historical and emotional depth, the characters of Senator Gallo a cockerel obviously based on Joseph McCarthy and the smug dalmatian Samuel Gotfield were noted as being interesting by many.
A great graphic novel everyone is looking forward to future releases from this fantastic team.
The second discussion was on the critically acclaimed web comic The Abominable Charles Christopher by Karl Kershl. Another popular read, this story of a yeti or man beast of some kind was an interesting companion to Blacksad as also dealt with humanising animals but in a completely different way. The main character Charles was well liked due to his expressive face and actions but some felt the nonspeaking yeti to be to much of blank canvas as he never speaks. The animals in the side stories were mentioned repeatedly as great comedic foils to a usually serious main story. Artistically Charles Christopher was mentioned as excellent, the brush and ink drawings showing huge adaptability and beauty.
A positive session all round, lets see if the next one brings back the split group discussions that were the norm.
The next meeting is on the 7th September and we shall be discussing the surreal Doom Patrol, Book 2: The Painting that ate Paris By Grant Morrison and DAR: A Super Girly Top Secret Comic Diary by Erika Moen
Join is if you can!
guest blogger Thomas Swingler