March 7, 2015

On "Blacksad: Amarillo"



I like graphic novels. They’re quick to read and they’re very visual, so it is a qualitatively different reading experience compared to a plain text book. But they also can use the form and structure of the page and the order of the panels and the text to shape the story, so they’re not like any other purely visual medium. I just don’t like paying for graphic novels, since they usually cost more than a text-based book and they are so quick and easy to read the ROI is pretty low.
                That’s why I like to hit up my local library to dig what’s new in the graphic novel scene. I also am not a fan of series with an endless number of books so that there is not a good way to get acquainted with the world if you weren’t there at the beginning. Maybe I’m picky. But anyways, not liking the series and eschewing the super-hero genre sort of limits what I can read.
                So I was excited when I picked up this book. I flipped around it and I didn’t see any indication that it was part of a series. All I saw was some names that popped out at me. Printed by Darkhorse Books, “Winner of the Eisner and Harvey awards for best international material”! So I started reading it, and to my chagrin there’s back-story I’m missing. There’s the titular character, an anthropomorphic black cat who is like a private eye, and he gets a random offer to drive a car somewhere. Some bad stuff happens and he’s perused by these couple of FBI agents who seem to have some previous animus towards our hero. If you pick this book up first you have no idea why.
                Again, I’m being picky. The book largely holds up by itself. It is after all a hard-boiled detective novel with Disney-like anthropomorphic characters standing in for the people. It is well told and visually appealing, so there is a lot going for it. You just need to read them in order.