One of the most excellent comics announcements to come out of you-know-what was the news that Dark Horse will be reprinting all three volumes of BLACKSAD by Juan Díaz Canales and Juanjo Guarnido in a deluxe oversized volume. The first two BLACKSAD books were published here by iBooks a while back, but with iBooks having gone into bankruptcy, these became highly sought after. Getting the full series reprinted was in limbo, but now Dark Horse has ridden in to fix that right up.

BLACKSAD is best described as hardboiled detective tales with an anthropomorphic cast, but with a darker side and social criticism mixed in. The real star is Guarnido’s art, which is some of the best stuff out there (the series has won over a dozen European awards). He worked extensively on several Disney films, and his art has the best qualities of that brand: indelible character designs, flawless storytelling and the attention to mood and place that is the hallmark of the great European comics. The series is hugely popular in France and Spain, and we can’t wait to read the whole thing in English.


Bonus: Jamie S. Rich at Robot 6 talks to editor Katie Moody:

And as you also point out, it has a different flavor than the usual “funny animal” titles. I devoured the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comics while growing up, am an ardent fan of Usagi Yojimbo [fist-bump of UY solidarity], and look forward to digging into Carl Barks’ Uncle Scrooge at some point, which is widely recognized as genius work. So in no way do I think that the visual trope is without fundamental merit. But each of these prominent books follows more of a cartooning tradition, and Guarnido’s realism is ultimately rooted in caricature. What he does in Blacksad transcends anthropomorphism–a boxer is literally a gorilla, a cold-hearted villain is an actual reptile–to the extent that the term “anthropomorphism” itself feels backwards; he’s not giving animals human-like qualities so much as he’s giving his human cast animal-like qualities. (Which would be what, bestepomorphism?) However you want to describe it, the result is creative alchemy, as the title’s “holy grail” popularity can attest.



  1. I can’t recommend this series enough. Really, really good move from Dark Horse. Happy to see more and more European stuff being picked up by US publishers.

  2. These books should be in every art school’s library! The amazing expressiveness of the faces is just so well done; it should be used as a primer for bringing animal faces to life.

  3. I loved this series, but isn’t the third volume a sketchbook? Or is Dark Horse printing material that wasn’t available to iBooks?

  4. I loved this series, but isn’t the third volume a sketchbook?

    No, Volume 3 of BLACKSAD is a full-length graphic novel. Here’s a description of a “deluxe edition” of the volume:

    Paris: Reves de Bulles, 2005. 1st. 4to (11-13”), 72pp, b&w, cloth spine, pictorial boards. VF. One of 450 numbered copies signed by the artist.

    This limited deluxe edition reproduces Guarnido’s 54 pencil pages for the entirety of Blacksad Volume 3 plus 15 pages of character sketches. Guarnido’s pencil pages include the entire text in Spanish. The book is printed on Conquéror Vergé blanc nacré 160gr. paper. The material here has not been published in any other book.

    WikiFur provides a brief summary of the contents:

    Volume 3 – Red Soul

    In the third volume, Blacksad gets involved with a former Nazi scientist, Communist Sympathizers, and the FBI. This mirrors the 1950’s elements of McCarthyism, fear of nuclear warfare, and the Red Scare.

  5. Finally! This has made my day. I’ve been debating with myself about picking up some French translations but I’d rather not read in a language I’m not 100% comfortable in.

  6. Too bad about the usual size reduction. One would think that with all this gushing over the art, they would go the extra inch and publish the book in its original intended dimensions, but no, instead we receive a lame excuse about “Printing costs” or some bullshit. Sigh…

    Not to mention that volume 4 will be released in France early 2010. What will DH do then? Publish a new collection with the 4 books in one, or wait several years until Blacksad 5 and 6 are released?

  7. The older I get the harder I find it to find something I want to lay down money for and now this and the charles vess book come along. Now the hard choice is going to be books or baby nappies. (diappers)

  8. Thank you, everyone, for your supportive comments. It is appreciated.

    To address Boo-hoo!’s feedback: The Creepy hardcover format is not a “usual” size reduction. The final measurements amount to less than a ten-percent difference from the original album size.

    Further, the months’ worth of back-and-forth of extensive format discussions with the artist is nothing to gloss over as insincere “bullshit.” Many alternatives were discussed, and the macro preferences of domestic bookstores (given their longstanding aversion to the full-sized albums Dark Horse repeatedly attempted in the past) were serious considerations, as their reception would fundamentally affect any collection’s success. Ultimately, we all wanted a format that would enable the title to perform as well as possible in a market where the European album size is an exception, not a norm.

    If certain fans find minor differences from the original publications unacceptable, the French albums are readily available to them through online vendors.

    As for volume four, we are well aware that it is due out in 2010 and eagerly await its release! There is a great deal of Blacksad material remaining, and we hope to collect it in the future.

  9. For years manga had a hard time selling on the US, until someone had the bright idea of publishing it unflipped on a format similar to the original. Then it blew US comics out of water.

    Now it’s european comics that are being published in incredibly reduced formats (and incredibly reduced sales) and people still resist to put them out on the original format.

    I remember the european albuns Dark Horse put out a few years ago. Just BEFORE the comics boom on bookstores! No full-size european comic has been published on the US since, but Cinebook has been doing exactly that in the UK, with reportedly good results.

    The format is the big diferential of european comics. It’s our cultural heritage. It’s the reason why european comics are thriving even in times of world economic crisis (french comic sales were up on the last quarter of 2008 compared to those in 2007!). Those are editions that people WANT to have, instead of just downloading from the internet. No computer screen can emulate the experience of reading a full-size european album. When will the US publishers understand that?

    Hunter (Pedro Bouça)

  10. Yeah baby I cannot wait for these in english language. I have them in both Bosnian and French editions in normal format, that is about 10 x 12 inches [which is not oversized for European standards]. Art is incredible. I also have the sketchbook which is a separate volume showing all penciled pages, preliminaries, interviews and also there is another volumes titled Aquarelles, showing how the pages were painted, what colors etc///

    Therefore forthcoming volumes 4 and those 2 other artbooks can be published later in Dark Horse volume 2 Blacksad book.

    Another even better book I recommedn DH to publish is Sambre, also from France [this is incredible deep stuff!]

  11. Just to add, that the art has large panels and if DH decides to publish at smaller format [as long as they do it in correct proportions] I think it would be excellent anyway. One advantage of smaller books is that they are easier too handle, carry around for reading and ofccourse storing. Living in the US, I’m now accostomed to smaller books especially manga size books whci are somialr size to Italian Bonelli comics. Therefore, either way this is awesome news.

    Even the artbooks can be printed in smaller format, but reformating pages likely would be the answer for artbooks as some pages have lets say 2 or 3 pencilled example pages which would be tiny if shrunk, so the answer would be to print that page in 3 pages…OK, thats another issue.

    DH, please do a reprint of Sambre also :)

    Just wonder when is it coming out?

  12. I’ve been waiting quite awhile to read volume 3 in English. As long as they haven’t overly reduced the really beautiful artwork (the commentary on reduction above has been a bit unnerving) this should be great. Looking forward to it!

  13. This is awesome, the wealth of European material unpublished in N.A. astounding. But I really hope they did a better translation than the Ibooks version. I found their translation clunky in general. They neglected to restructure the wording to fit the the English language, making sequences of dialogue or captions awkward (or off in some way) to read. A reduction of only 10% for the art sounds fair, but I’m not sure I believe that given the original albums are the same size as the Dark Horse Library editions. A library edition with all the Black Sad Material contained within would’ve been my preferred version. Now I want me some Hugo Pratt republished in english, Corto Maltese anyone?