Taking a trip down to New Orleans, Blacksad and his repellent rascal of a reporter Weekly are tasked with finding a beloved missing musician in the mayhem of Mardi Gras. However, the Masquerade of the local music industry has prowled through the poisonous streets of New Orleans longer than any parade. In the hometown of Jazz and voodoo, Blacksad is soon to find out that A Silent Hell awaits those with a Life Everlasting.
With a loud and proud colour palette party and an intricate gallery of water-coloured storytelling throughout, Guarnido has a field day with this volume of Blacksad. You know you are witnessing something special when even the simple use of colour can tell a dynamic story.
With the subject matter dealing with the harsh realities of drug abuse, Guarnido takes the opportunity to show off his abstract chops with some truly trippy compositions that are both moving and menacing all at once. These in their own right could be covers for the comic or installations in a renowned art gallery for kaleidoscopic prowess.
Crossing the line between art and writing, I wasn’t sure how to talk about the English translation of this comic. Unfortunately, it’s shoddily done both in it’s style and translation. Slapped across the original speech bubbles like a tacky elbow patch on a tailored suit is a grammatical nightmare of an English translation from it’s original French text, in a lifeless husk of a font no less. Canales is a genius with his immersive dialogue and sadly there’s enough immersion-breaking mistakes in the translation that really break the flow. I’d happily learn French for Blacksad but I think it’d be easier to re-release the comic with a more collaborative translation.
That being said, Canales is a tour de force when it comes to his virtuosic talents for as a writer and not even a poor translation can stop him from creating a riveting tale of fabled realism. Arctic Nation dealt with racism, Red Soul a commentary on political warfare and now with A Silent Hell, a dark descension into the world of drugs and exploitative nature of the music industry.
In conclusion, Blacksad: A Silent Hell, is a maddening Mardi Gras of mistreatment and music. Just like Jazz, there’s a beauty to the dissonance of Canales’ story coupled with a fun and lively appearance atop an exhausted internal struggle from Guarnido. Despite it’s rough and staggered translation to the English language, this comic is essential reading for anyone attending the Blacksad party!
Let us know in the comments your thoughts on Blacksad: A Silent Hell and be sure to check out my reviews for Blacksad: Somewhere Within The Shadows, Blacksad: Arctic Nation, Blacksad: Red Soul & Blacksad: Under The Skin!
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