Think a dark version of Zootopia. Then add superb art, mystery, action, thoughtful themes, and impressively realistic dialogue and characters, and you have Blacksad by Juan Díaz Canales and Juanjo Guarnido.
This graphic novel follows the cat detective Blacksad as he solves crimes and avenges and protects those who are unable to defend themselves. In addition to the compelling plot, the story raises important questions about justice, racism, revenge, and social and moral problems. The book is serialized, and each story arc focuses on different themes as the plot revolves around a new scenario and set of characters. Canales and Guarnido skillfully use the text and art to move the story forward and promote the exploration of each message. One of my favorite parts of the books is the visual characterization of each member of the story (see featured image for an example). The characterization in this book is unique and incredible. Guarnido combines animal and human features to create characters who visualize their personality traits. For instance, Blacksad is a lonely nocturnal hunter, a little wild and dangerous, just like the black panther features evident in his half-feline half-human appearance.
While Blacksad does contain profanity, violence, and a few scenes with nudity, this gritty graphic novel is not one to pass up if you’re a comic enthusiast. The story is a page-turner, the characters are realistic and riveting, and the art and dialogue are masterful. Few graphic novels have Blacksad’s level of artistry or smooth flow of action and dialogue. With its compelling art, story, and themes, Blacksad is what I would call a triple threat in the graphic novel world.