For the unintiated Blacksad is actually John Blacksad, a private detective in fifties America. However what makes this a little different from a regular noir influenced crime thriller is that John Blacksad is a humanoid black cat. And everyone else in his world is a similar blend of humanoid and animal, lending the whole thing a very Furry friendly air. It is the brainchild of two Spanish creators, writer Juan Diaz Canales and drawn by ex-Disney animator Juanjo Guarnido. It has a beautiful, subdued painted style that suits the era being portrayed down to the ground and doesn't shy away from sexuality and violence so isn't as "cute" as a world populated by anthropomorpised animals could become. I have covered all the previous issues, the three volume collection "Blacksad" which introduced us to John and his world, taking in racial issues and the Red Scare as it did so. "A Silent Hell" came next where John unearthed a thalidomide style scandal involving some major players in the New Orleans Jazz scene. After getting shot at, drugged, beaten up and nearly drowned during that investigation, John decides to take some time out to recover and goes out on a road trip across America. But of course it doesn't take long for John to get tangled in a new series of events...
The story begins with two writers, a lion called Chad and a bull called Abraham. They are messing about in a swimming pool. Abraham sets fire to his latest collection of poems and tosses them burning into the pool.
Abraham: "My poems don't 'see the light'. They are the light. My words enlighten and show us the way."
He says he doesn't want his words to end up in the hands of a slimy editor and threatens to burn Chad's novel. He accuse Chad of selling out, "no guts, no glory" and likens his work to toilet paper, which leaves Chad sliently scowling.
|Abraham and Chad.|
He wonders if he should have become a photographer like his father and Weekly enthusiastically agrees and offers him a camera which Blacksad refuses. They part and when Weekly has gone, Blacksad finds he slipped the camera in his jacket. "That damn Weekly" he smiles.
He leaves and walks through the carpark. A bull drops his wallet and Blacksad returns it to him. Impressed by his honesty the bull offers him a job driving his gold cadillac to Tulsa and Blacksad accepts.
|Crusin' with mah top down.|
Blacksad notices they have left a bag with a map that has Amarillo circled on it. The amused gang leader offers him the use of their injured member's bike and Blacksad takes off on it giving chase to the cadillac.
|Badass on a bike.|
Billy: "No calculated act of violence is meaningless. It's cowardice and stagnation that rot a man's soul. If you want to be a real writer someday, you'd better face that."
Later Abraham wakes up and he, Chad and Billy talk. Chad is fuming silently. He is planning to stay in Amarillo to deliver his manuscript to his publisher. But Abraham says he mailed it to the Dalai Lama, so he can put Chad "back on the path of light and redemption" Billy sneers, "admit it Chad you just don't have the lyric sense."
Angrily Chad grabs Abraham and shouts at him asking why he thinks he is better than him. "Poetry and balls" says Abraham. So Chad decides to show him he has balls by shooting Abraham dead. He turns to Billy and asks him:
Chad: "You gonna help me with this, or would you prefer we wrote a fucking sonnet about it?"
|One way to win an argument I guess.|
In Amarillo, Blacksad and the rest of the motorcycle gang pull up in the centre of town. They drop Blacksad off, and the leader shakes his hand and wishes him well, then they leave and Blacksad starts looking for the cadillac.
Blacksad: "If it's the same lion I'm thinking of, I can help you break his legs for free."
Neal is also looking for the lion. "A dilemma. Three plaintiffs - only two legs to break" but Filipe wanders off saying the circus will have packed up and moved on by now.
Neal introduces himself to Blacksad as the literary agent of Chad, who is the scruffy lion in question. Neal and Blacksad go thumb a lift and Neal tells him a bit about Chad, seems the success of his first novel "plunged him into a sea of doubt, he can't seem to tell what's good or what's bad anymore." He says he'll pay Blacksad if he helps him find Chad. Blacksad says he just wants the car. Then a parrot offers them a lift and the two F.B.I agents go zooming past them.
|A racist parrot.|
She says she know he will, she read his mind and she departs. Chad watches her smiling with a heart over his head, but the bear dressed as a clown says hands off, he's after "Luanne" himself.
|Clown + Bear = Bad News.|
He wants to know if there are any mendicants in Amarillo he can question. The policeman with them says Filipe maybe, he's a transient and could fit the bill. The cat grins cruelly, "I got the feeling we're gonna have some fun".
In the car with the parrot are Neal and Blacksad. As the parrot chatters away he keeps insulting the "coloured", a group Blacksad belongs too. Blacksad grits his teeth and tries not to be provoked. He fails and we cut to him and Neal walking along the road because Blacksad punched the parrot in the head. Blacksad says he knows someone nearby with a car they can borrow.
The circus is open for business. Chad is being ordered around backstage and he peeks in on Luanne through a gap in the wall and sees the bear forcing himself on her, and initmating he is blackmailing her as well. Chad runs in and pulls him off her. They fight an it looks like Chad will be killed.
|Chad comes to Luanne's rescue.|
Neal and Blacksad are in Santa Fe, New Mexico where Blacksad's sister Donna works as a tour guide. They meet her and return to her home in Raton. Neal plays the guitar for Ray, Donna's son and Blacksad asks if he can borrow her car.
Blacksad: "Good guys don't carry guns, Ray. 'Cause we know they always wind up shooting someone."
Back at the circus, Chad has been tied up in the middle of the ring. The Boss says the penalty for murder is death. The elephant ringmaster says they should turn him over to the law. But the Boss says that will mean the police will shutdown the circus while they investigate. Chad says, "Just do what you're going to do." Luanne watches him and cries a silent tear. The Boss says they'll pack up tommorrow, it'll be like they were never there.
|The circus owner.|
Inside are the two F.B.I agents and Filipe who led them there. They try to arrest Blacksad for damaging the mailbox and murder. He fights them off with help from Neal and they flee the truck. The F.B.I agents give chase..
In some nearby mines the circus folk have stashed the bear's corpse and tied up Chad to die down there of hunger and thirst. After his captors leave, Luanne appears and asks Chad why he didn't rat on her.
Chad: "Because I made a horrible mistake not long ago, and I just wanted to make up for it, somehow, with one good thing".
|Luanne comes to Chad's aid.|
Back at the circus, the Boss is arguing with the ringmaster over the reward out on Luanne. The ringmaster is disgusted he would give up one of their own, "what about the Brotherhood you claim to hold so dear?" The Boss says they need to pay their debts or the family wil fall apart and he'll do whatever it takes. The ringmaster says they aren't going to hang around, they are off on a tour of Canada. Then a baboon runs up say he saw Luanne buying a ticket to Chicago and she wasn't alone.
On the train, in a private cabin, Luanne tells Chad her story. She is the daughter of a press mogul, she got pregnant and had to have an abortion age fourteen after that she ran away and joined the circus where no questions were asked. Her real family have spent a lot of cash trying to locate her. She says it's like a bad novel. Chad regards his manuscript:
Chad: "Novels are bullshit. But real life is even worse."
|The circus owner tracks them down.|
Chad: "I.. don't want to be a killer."
Blacksad: "Too late for that, kid."
Luanne and Chad embrace. In Chicago, Blacksad phones his sister and apologises for wrecking her car. Then he asks another favour. He finishes the call and goes to speak to Luanne sitting nearby, he says she can hide out with his sister for as long a she needs to. Luanne asks why Chad can't come. Blacksad says he's a killer:
Luanne: "His friend and it haunts him everyday. Isn't that punishment enough?"
|Blacksad is lost for words.|
Neal is aghast. Chad say it'll do more good there. Neal decides to go back for it yelling at Chad for bringing the whole world down with him. He's going to publish it whether Chad likes it or not.
Neal: "Do whatever the hell you want, but I want to live. Can you dig that? To live and laugh, to play and dance. Anything but wallow in my own pitiful shit as if that were some grand aesthetic enterprise."
|The death of Neal.|
Then the F.B.I agents turn up and arrest Blacksad. But Chad walks up and says he shot Abraham. There was a witness he can provide to confirm this. Blacksad ask him what he is doing? "One good thing.. I hope" smiles Chad.
|Chad does the right thing.|
|S'all good man.|