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Comic Book: Blacksad
aka: Black Sad
Gritty anthropomorphic noir goodness

"I had wrapped myself in a vicious atmosphere made of hate, vengeance, and corruption. From that day on, this would be my world. A jungle where it's survival of the fittest, where people act like animals. I had chosen to walk the darkest path in life... And I'm still on it."

Blacksad is a series of (five so far) comic albums created by Spanish authors Juan Díaz Canales (writer) and Juanjo Guarnido (artist and ex-Disney animator; he was the lead animator for the character Sabor in Tarzan and Helga in Atlantis The Lost Empire), and published by French publisher Dargaud. Though both authors are Spanish, their main target audience for Blacksad is the French market and thus they publish all Blacksad albums in French first; the Spanish edition usually follows about one month later. Because of this is considered both a Spanish and French comic book.

In an anthropomorphic rendition of America in the 1950s private investigator John Blacksad, a black cat, is embroiled in stories of mystery and intrigue. The albums come critically acclaimed and are a dedicated homage to the Film Noir genre. There have been five albums published so far (the first three in English in an omnibus edition by Dark Horse Comics, the fourth in a standalone hardcover):

  • Somewhere Within The Shadows (French: Quelque part entre les ombres, 2000) has Blacksad investigating the murder of an old flame.
  • In Arctic Nation (2003) Blacksad is hired to investigate the disappearance of a young girl in a racially charged atmosphere.
  • In Red Soul (Âme Rouge, 2005) Blacksad watches over an old friend in the midst of the Red Scare, and falls in love.
  • A Silent Hell (L'Enfer, Le Silencenote  2010), sets him in New Orleans trying to track down a musician, before assassins do.
  • Amarillo (2013) is a direct sequel to the fourth book, where Blacksad tries to track down the guy who stole an expensive car he was ferrying.

This comicbook series provides examples of:

  • Abandoned Warehouse: In Arctic Nation.
  • Accidental Murder: In Amarillo, Chad and Neal have a heated argument, Neal tries to step away, Chad grabs his suit's sleeve... which rips apart, causing Neal to stumble and fall in front of a moving bus.
  • Anachronic Order: ''A Silent Hell".
  • Animal Motifs/Animal Stereotypes: Obviously and so much. All the cops are canines - nearly all of them dogs, with at least one fox on the force. The hitmen are reptilian. The 'Arctic Nation' includes an arctic fox and a polar bear. Otto Liebber is an owl and Lazslo Herzl is a monkey: both are scientists. The Joseph McCarthy expy is a cockerel. Also, the beautiful women tend to be cats or dogs; dignified ladies tend to be birds. The authors state that the species of each individual character was carefully chosen to represent who the character really is, and that the connection between the animal chosen and the personality of the character isn't always as obvious as the "cops=dogs" example. In the second album there is possibly a Lampshade Hanging. Blacksad is at a drive-in, watching an awful B-Movie about killer giant ants. In this film, the scientist is a giant anteater, the chief of the military forces is a lion and the President of the USA is an eagle.
  • Antagonist Title: Arctic Nation is the group of white fur supremacists in the album of the same name who serve as Blacksad's antagonists. It's eventually revealed as a subversion; the real antagonist was Jezebel, who orchestrated everything that happened to get revenge on her father.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: Blacksad to Jezebel, "What about Kylie? Did she deserve this?"
  • Arc Words: "Vengeance is a dish best served cold." in Arctic Nation.
  • Art Imitates Art: One panel in the Red Soul referenses Norman Rockwell's painting "Connoisseur".
  • Aside Glance: Weekly in Red Soul, when Blacksad throws him out of his own appartment in order to be alone with Alma.
  • The Atoner:
    • Otto Liebber in Red Soul.
    • Chad ends up becoming one in Amarillo.
  • Badass: Blacksad, Ribs, the unnamed reptilian assassin in Somewhere Within the Shadows and the members of the Black Claws.
  • Badass Biker: a gang of them in the fifth book. Amusingly, all of them are sheep.
  • Badass Longcoat: As a rendition of the 50's private eye archetype, Blacksad is wearing the prototypical beige trenchcoat, sometimes accompanied by a suit.
  • Bare Your Midriff: Dinah. The stories are in a 50s setting, so her fashion choice is rather daring.
  • Batman Gambit: Jezebel in Artic Nation is in the middle of one several decades in the making. A key factor in this plot is marrying her own father, while keeping him from discovering this particular bit of information. She succeeds at most of her goals, but her sister is killed in the process and her niece rendered an orphan.
  • The Beat Generation: the theme of the fifth album, including characters based on the generation's three core writers, and several Shout Outs to On the Road.
  • Best Served Cold: Jezebel and Dinah have been waiting a long time to enact their vengeance.
  • The Big Easy: The fourth album.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Each album ends with one, the most obvious being the third, Red Soul.
  • Blood from the Mouth: Neal the lawyer after he is hit by a bus.
  • Body Guard Crush / Rescue Romance: How Blacksad and Natalia met.
  • Broken Bird: Luanne in Amarillo
  • Call Back: In Red Soul, Blacksad is sufficiently annoyed when he has to attend a Natalia Wilford Look-A-Like contest when doing bodyguard duty for a rich client.
  • Carnivore Confusion: Unless those were vegetarian sausages we see Karup grilling in an old photo...
  • Cats Are Mean: Adolf Hitler was a cat. See No Celebrities Were Harmed below. Totally averted by Blacksad and Alma, though.
  • Chekhov's Gun and Foreshadowing: All over the place in Artic Nation.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Abraham Greenberg, a poet and a murder victim in the fifth album, made a cameo reciting his poems in the third one.
  • The Chessmaster: Jezebel had a grand plan indeed.
  • Cold War: In the third album. The story is set in the months leading up to the Red Scare.
  • Cradling Your Kill: in Amarillo, after Chad accidentally caused Neal to get hit by a bus.
  • Cry into Chest: Dinah.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Dinah, Luanne, Jezebel.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Blacksad, especially in his inner monologues.
  • Did Not Get the Girl: A result of Blacksad's necessary detainment in Red Soul.
  • Die Laughing: Neal in Amarillo.
  • Disappeared Dad: Amarillo reveals that John and Donna Blacksad's father is still around, but hasn't been in contact with his children for a while except through rare letters.
  • Double Entendre: Ivo Statoc has 'cold blood' in a literal sense and figuratively he professes a cold detachedness.
  • Drop Dead Gorgeous: The first book begins with a murder scene: the victim is a woman, wearing vaporous night clothing, with one breast exposed. In the flashback to her murder, her night gown was noticeably closed. The writers revealed in a background making-off album that the implication was that the murderer played around with the corpse just for kicks.
  • Expressive Ears: Like their real-life animal counterparts characters ears will go back when they are threatened (or are being threatening), they'll droop when they are sad, and perk up when excited. Blacksad often swivels his ears like a cat does to hear things better.
  • Face-Heel Turn: Karup in his backstory. Jezebel recalls that her mother told her that Karup was one of the kindest persons she had ever seen, which is why her mother fell in love with him. He eventually wanted to attain power in The Line, and became increasingly racist and abusive over time to blend in with the white elite. He finally completed his Turn when he abandonded his wife in the middle of the woods in winter, causing their eventual daughters to develop an intense hatred for their father and setting up the plot of the novel to get revenge on him.
  • Face Palm: Blacksad after Weekly whistles upon seeing Karup's wife, Jezebel.
  • Fantastic Racism:
    • What drives the events of Arctic Nation. Played with, because the characters think of literal color over race.
    • One character in Amarillo (a parrot) keeps insulting "negroes" while sharing a car with Blacksad. It takes less than a page for him to get a black eye courtesy of a very pissed-off black cat.
  • The Fifties
  • Film Noir
  • Flashback Effects: Usually, flashbacks are shown in some kind of monochrome - sepia tone or blue-based - to distinguish them from the present. Special mention, though, goes to the effects towards the end of Arctic Nation. The oldest flashbacks look like pure sepia tone photos, but as they approach the present day, they gradually become more and more colored like reality.
  • Foreshadowing: Easy to miss, but when Weekly first sees a photo of Jezebel in Krup's office, notice what he says: "Your daughter is quite pretty!"
  • Friend on the Force: Commissioner Smirnov.
  • Fully Dressed Cartoon Animal: The entire cast.
  • Funny Background Event:
    • In Somewhere Within The Shadows, Blacksad visits the Cypher Club. A baboon and a leopard are seen arguing in the background (in an inversion, one panel has the two in the foreground, while the focus is on Blacksad in the background). The confrontation goes from shouting in the first panel we see them, to strangling each other in the last...
    • In Red Soul, when Blacksad goes to visit Liebber at Columbia he walks past a row of couples. All the girls instantly take notice of him and when he walks by them a few pages later they're all arguing with their boyfriends for taking such obvious interest in him.
  • Furry Comic: And a damn fine one at that.
  • Furry Confusion: There are many anthropomorphized species in the series, but apparently insects and aquatic species (such as fish and sharks) are not among them as Ivo Statoc collects non-anthro insect specimens and there are aquariums.
  • Gender Equals Breed: Although it appears that most romances are between members of the same species, this still holds true to a certain extent. For example, Smirnov looks like a German Shepherd, and his wife is some kind of collie. Their children - a little boy and a girl — follow their parents' breeds. And the same for Sebastian and his wife, Hannah - their son looks far more like Sebastian. Another example is Karup and his first wife, a dog, whose daughters are both dogs.
  • Good People Have Good Sex: When Blacksad has sex it's implied to be very romantic and fulfilling. Whereas when we see Huk and Jezebel having sex it's shown to be much less wholesome.
  • Go Out with a Smile: Cotten in Arctic Nation.
  • The Grim Reaper: Death himself doesn't show, but Faust LaChapelle dons a costume in his image to go around incognito. Death apparantly looks like a man with a goat skull in the Blacksad universe, merging some of the imagery with that of traditional Western depictions of Satan.
  • Handsome Lech: In the space of one book, Neal hits on three different women.
  • Hardboiled Detective: Blacksad, of course.
  • Heel Realization: Jezebel, once it dawns on her she made her niece an orphan.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Blacksad wants to take the blame for Chad's crimes in order to let him and Luanne be free. But Chad ultimately refuses and surrenders to the police.
  • Hollywood Voodoo: Used by an old lady ape in The Hell, The Silence.
  • Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: Karup and his wife. Both of his wives.
  • Humanoid Female Animal: Men look like bipedal animals, many female characters almost look like normal humans only with more fur and ears on the head. But only the beautiful women follow the trope — the rest have more variety, like the mouse cleaning lady of the first album, the doe teacher in the second, or the old lady ape in the fourth.
  • If You Kill Him, You Will Be Just Like Him: Blacksad struggles with this when confronting Ivo Statoc, subverting it when he does kill him with a bullet to the head.
  • I Kiss Your Hand: Blacksad does this to Smirnov's wife.
  • In Spite of a Nail: Despite (almost) everyone being anthro animals, and having many specific issues due to that fact, general history seems mostly unchanged, what with World War II and the Red Scare...
  • Intrepid Reporter: Weekly. He's also a bit of a pervert.
  • It's All About Me: Chad.
  • It's Always Mardi Gras in New Orleans at the end of the fourth album.
  • The Klan: The Arctic Nation is a mix between this and the Nazi Party. At the beginning they wear uniforms resembling Nazi party ones complete with red armbands, and later wear ones resembling those of the KKK. Because this is a setting of Petting Zoo People, they're white fur supremacists.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: At the beginning of Arctic Nation Blacksad is writing and monologuing about how he should publish his memoirs. Then he looks in the readers direction and mentions that he "Wouldn't be surprised if it ended up published as a detective novel." He was looking at a hanging body, but the 'Leaning' effect is there.
  • Leave The Two Love Birds Alone: Lampshaded and played with in Red Soul. Blacksad jokes that his real reason for throwing Weekly out of his own apartment (to hide Alma from the FBI) probably sounded unbelievable to Weekly, and the weasel probably thinks that he only did so in order to have an intimate moment with Alma. A mere few seconds later, Weekly is actually proven right.
  • Lions and Tigers and Humans... Oh, My!: A pair of human women are seen walking down the street in one panel of Somewhere Within The Shadows.
  • Love Hurts: In five books, we get to meet several couples, but of these only one is happy and does not suffer from any tragedy: Smirnov and his wife.
  • Love Interests: Blacksad has one in the first and third album. The first example is posthumously, giving Blacksad his motivation for going on a quest for revenge against her killer, the second example is ultimately subverted.
  • Manipulative Bitch: Jezebel. See Batman Gambit for further information.
  • Mature Animal Story
  • Meaningful Name:
    • "Alma" means "soul" in Spanish and Italian. The title of the book she appears in is Red Soul.
    • "Jezebel" is a fitting name since it's often used to describe "an impudent, shameless, or morally unrestrained woman."
  • Meganekko: Alma Mayer
  • Mighty Whitey: Played with in Arctic Nation. Plus, considering Blacksad himself is a black cat... or more precisely, a black and white cat. Which explains why neither the 'Arctic Nation' nor 'The Black Claws' can stand him. He even makes a smart-ass comment about it; when the Arctic Nation first comes around to harass him, he points to the white patch on his face and says, "What, isn't this enough white for you?". Later when a black horse tries to cover the white patch with black paint, Blacksad very seriously threatens to shoot him in the gut.
  • Morale Event Horizon: By the fifth book, John admits to Weekly that all the misery he's witnessed in his line of work has gotten to him, and he's very close to his own breaking point.
  • Mr. Fanservice: Blacksad walks down a university hallway to very admiring glances from the female students, and extreme disapproval from their boyfriends. When he comes back, the couples are in full argument mode.
  • Murder by Mistake: Intending to assassinate Otto, Ribs kills a similar looking owl, Otero.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Jezebel, after it dawns on her that her revenge has made Kylie, her niece, an orphan.
  • A Nazi by Any Other Name:
    • Arctic Nation, an organization of white furred animals who want all the other colors to disappear in "a blizzard". They're a lot like the KKK too, even dressing in almost identical uniforms.
    • There also seems to be a burgeoning Black Panthers expy.
    • You can see pictures of actual Nazis in the third album.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed:
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Abe and Chad try to steal a bike from a biker gang, but get caught. Blacksad intervenes to keep the gang from mauling them. They thank him by stealing his car behind his back.
  • Odd Couple: Big and stoic Blacksad with excitable and relatively small Weekly. Also the literal cat and dog combo of Blacksad and Smirnov.
  • Oh, Crap:
    • In Album one where Statoc's mammal henchman follows the lizard henchman into a predominantly reptile bar. As the reptiles are happy to illustrate: Hairy guys like him are NOT welcome there.
    • In album five: see Pop the Tires.
  • Once an Episode: Except for the first album, every story has a classic American song in the background ("Strange Fruit," "That Old Black Magic Called Love," "Summertime", and "Road 66")
  • One-Hour Work Week: When he first meets Blacksad, Weekly claims that his articles are of such superior quality that he can get away with only showing up at the office once a week or so, which is how he got the nickname. Later on, he 'fesses up that it's actually because of an office rumor about his bathing habits. Since it's never established one way or the other whether his claim about the amount of time spent in the office is true, it's possible he's encouraged to stay away to save his coworkers from dealing with his...distinctive odor.
  • One Last Smoke: Blacksad offers a dying Mook a cigarette in Somewhere Within The Shadows. The mook happens to be a non-smoker, and instead spends his last moments giving crucial information.
  • Parental Incest: Jezebel's Batman Gambit relies on her marrying Karup, her own father. She does refuse to sleep with him, though.
  • Pedo Hunt: Karup becomes the victim of this. See below.
  • Pedophile Priest: Karup is the director of the church's children choir. He may or may not be a pedophile... point is, by the end all the townsfolk believe it.
  • Poisonous Friend:
    • Abraham Greenberg to Chad Lowell. To quote the writers, the only thing Chad learns from Abe is autodestruction.
    • Chad himself. Kills one of his two best friends in a fit of rage, and accidentally pushes the other in front of a bus.
  • Pop the Tires: Successfully used by one of the FBI agents in Amarillo, only for the target car to veer out of control and into their own car's way.
  • Posthumous Character: Natalia Wilford and Leon Kronski in the first album. The entire plot of said album revolves around Blacksad tracking down Natalia's killer and avenging her death.
  • Pretty Little Headshots: In the first story, even though Blacksad's old flame was murdered via a shot to the head, there's only a bit of blood and a small hole instead of brains and stuff being splattered all over the wall…
    • … which might be explained by the fact that she was lying down on her bed and the shot was downwards. The nastiness would have splattered the pillow under her head rather than the wall.
    • Played straight when he shoots Ivo Statoc in the head, while the target is standing up and facing him. There's barely any blood where the victim lands.
  • Private Eye Monologue: Naturally.
    • Lampshaded at the start of Arctic Nation, when Blacksad notes his memoirs would read like a detective novel.
  • The Promise: Blacksad's promise to Cotten.
  • Reassigned To New Mexico: the two FBI agents from the third book were reassigned to Albuquerque sometime before the fifth book, which they blame on Blacksad.
  • Redemption Equals Death: When Cotten threatens to tell the rest of Arctic Nation about the kidnapping he is promptly shot.
  • Reptiles Are Abhorrent:
    • Played straight in the first album; one of Ivo Statoc's henchmen is a lizard. He does get something of an Alas, Poor Villain moment though.
    • Ribs, the henchman of third album, is a croc.
  • Rescue Romance:
    • This is the nature of Blacksad's past relationship with the deceased Natalia Wilford, as he helped her get rid of a stalker. They started a relationship afterwards but it wore off after some time, and they broke up before her untimely death.
    • Chad and Luanne may also count in book five: though they already flirted with each other before, their relationship really picks up after each of them saves the other's life once.
  • Ridiculously Cute Critter: All the children. Kylie, the little Zebra who plays with her, the children in Krup's choir, Smirnov's puppies, and Ray, Blacksad's nephew. And, despite not being a kid, Weekly.
  • Scenery Porn: This series is gorgeous.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: After offering Blacksad to come work for him instead of pursuing his revenge fails, Statoc instead tries to buy him off. Blacksad rejects him again and makes a point of defying Statoc's attempt to invoke this trope.
  • Shout-Out:
    • In Arctic Nation when Blacksad is crouching on a roof overlooking the city his silhouette SCREAMS Batman. Down to his very Batman hood-looking ears.
    • Several to Porgy and Bess in album four.
    • In the fourth album, in an establishing shot of New Orleans, Ignatius J. Reilly can be seen disapproving of the whole thing.
    • The leader of the biker gang in the fifth album is a Shout-Out to Marlon Brando's character in The Wild One.
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!: Delivered non-verbally via headshot.
  • Side Kick: Weekly from the second album onward, Neal in the fifth album.
  • Single Woman Seeks Good Man: All Alma wants is a dedicated man who will take her to Niagara Falls.
  • Sliding Scale of Anthropomorphism:
    • Blacksad looks far more anthropomorphic than most characters. Sexy ladies are even more anthropomorphic.
    • Inversely, the circus folk from the fifth album were deliberately drawn much less anthropomorphic than the rest of the characters, to emphasize their status as outcast freaks.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: Hannah singing "Summertime" to her baby as Blacksad races to find Sebastian dead of an overdose.
  • Stalker with a Crush: When Blacksad meets her Natalia is harassed by a stalker, and hires Blacksad to get rid of him. Blacksad does so by shoving a gun in the guy's mouth and threatening to kill him.
  • The Starscream: Huk the polar fox to Karup.
  • Stealth Pun: In "Arctic Nation", Huk, a canine member of the Arctic Nation is in an affair with the leader's wife. Weekly catches them having sex from behind i.e. "Doggy Style".
  • Stepford Smiler: Samuel Gotfield is a Type C before he goes completely mental.
  • Stout Strength: Ted Leeman, the corrupt hippo detective in The Hell, The Silence seems like a sweaty, obese sloth whose bark is worse than his bite. When Blacksad outsmarts him and reveals himself, Leeman unleashes a brutal beating on Blacksad to show his immense strength.
  • Swiss Cheese Security: Statoc's building seemed pretty easy to break into. Although this may reflect Statoc's confidence that he could sway Blacksad with money.
  • Sympathetic Murderer: By the end of Amarillo, Chad has directly or indirectly caused four deaths.
  • Those Two Guys: the FBI agents from the third album, who reappear in the fifth.
  • Use Your Head: Blacksad pulls this on an attacker in Somewhere Within The Shadows. It is very effective.
  • We Can Rule Together: Ivo Statoc tries to offer Blacksad a job in his employ when he's finally tracked him down and already dispatched his bodyguards; Blacksad refuses.
  • What Have I Done: Quoted pretty much word for word by Luanne after she kills her coworker (and would-be rapist) to save Chad.
  • Wolf Whistle: in both cases, Blacksad's sidekick is whistling at a woman he shouldn't be looking at too closely:
    • In Arctic Nation, Weekly upon seeing Jezebel.
    • In Amarillo, Neal upon seeing Donna.
  • World of Funny Animals
  • Wrong Side of the Tracks: "The Line", which used to be prosperous during World War II. Then the armaments factories shut down and the district collapsed.
  • You Dirty Rat: The shady rat from Somewhere Within The Shadows.
  • You Killed My Mother: This is what drives Jezebel.
  • You Wouldn't Shoot Me: Statoc reminds Blacksad that he's not the sort of person who would shoot someone in cold blood, and so can't pull the trigger. He is quickly proven wrong. Blacksad also notes that without the jolt of contempt he felt from Statoc's upfront taunting, he probably wouldn't have pulled the trigger.

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alternative title(s): Blacksad
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