Since the day I was born
I've loved most comics around
With Snyder its no wonder
Batman's rockin' the town
Let Donist hook you up
With books to leave your mind blown
Want crime comic hotness?
Listen, cuz, Blacksad you should own
Blacksad you should own
Blacksad you should own
Blacksad you should own
"Oh what a beautiful mornin', oh what a beautiful day! I got a..." *ssscripppp* Stop the record. That is not the song to be playing at 5:30 AM. Hello, folks, I'm Donist and I'm here with Obie, my friends' Boston terrier and Donist World CFO, and we are up and at 'em this fine morning to bring you the latest Donist World. Although we are happy to be writing as the sun rises and birds chirp, we are not about to have any of that upbeat positivity, especially not in the form of any dang musicals playing in the background; that's just plain nuts. No sireebob. Today, Obie and I awakened to Berlioz's "Symphonie Fantastique" (you might remember it from a little movie called The Shining). Now as we sit in front of the computer, grinning wide with an occasional giggle, we begin to type, "All kibble and no toys makes Obie a dull boy." Now cue up the Oklahoma for a musical/Berliz mashup and let's get this party started! "Oh what a beautiful mornin'" Dun dun dun dun...Donnie doesn't live here anymore, Mrs. Torrance, it's...
Friday Slice of Heaven
***Possible Spoilers Below***
Blacksad was created by Spanish creators Juan Díaz Canales and Juanjo Guarnido in 2000 for publication in France and then Spain and eventually arrived in the US in 2010 as a compilation of three stories: "Somewhere in the Shadows," "Arctic Nation," and "Red Soul." This beautifully constructed, oversized hardcover is alone striking and worthy of displaying prominently on your best shelf even before the book is cracked open; although it could have used a ribbon marker to make it perfect. But inside is where the true beauty rests.
John Blacksad is a hardboiled private investigator operating in the 1950s and an anthropomorphic black cat who wears a dark suit, trench coat and likes his cigarettes--what PI doesn't. He's head-turning attractive, a real hit with the ladies, but he unfortunately has a habit of also getting under the skins of those he's looking into to the detriment of his own health. He is very much the smooth, sly black cat you would imagine him to be, while other characters' nature reflects their animal appearance. A German shepherd runs the police department, gorillas are boxers, reptiles are assassins, and thugs are bears and rhinos...you can guess where weasels and foxes fall.
"Somewhere in the Shadows" is the first chapter (first book in France and Spain) and follows Blacksad as he investigates the murder of an actress and former flame. Unfortunately for John's health and wellbeing, this high-profile murder is not cut and dry and his investigations lead him to confronting toughies and hit men who nearly kill him. When he eventually find the murderer, John will have to make a tough decision, one with dire consequences...or maybe not.
Chapter two is "Arctic Nation," a story of segregation and inter-racial violence and hatred presented in a clever way. At the site of a hanged black vulture, Blacksad meets his new sidekick, Weekly, a newspaper reporting weasel. Hate crimes are on the rise and at the center is a group calling themselves the Arctic Nation, a group of white-colored animals (foxes, bears, pigs, owls, etc) an analogue of the Ku Klux Klan, which does not bode well for a black cat. John is called to visit the economically-depressed suburb known as "The Line" to investigate a kidnapped bear girl and to inquire as to why her mother never reported her missing. Blacksad's search finds him mixed up in an intricate tale of deception, hatred and revenge.
"Red Soul" occurs just before the Red Scare and and finds Blacksad as a bodyguard for an old tortoise in Las Vegas. He happens to come across a lecture on nuclear energy given by his one-time school teacher, and dear friend, an owl by the name of Otto Liebber. From there you have riots, jerks who don't know when to keep quiet, McCarthyism, assassins, and true love in the form of the sexiest catwoman ever to grace the comic page, writer Alma Mayer.
Blacksad is now on my shelf of most prized books. This treasure has everything worthy of being proudly displayed: gorgeous exterior of quality construction, a beautiful and complex story worthy of multiple readings, and artwork that is absolutely stunning. There is very little, almost nothing, negative that I can say about this book other than "Arctic Circle" possibly had an unclear resolution or two, but then again that could be just me. I am stunned that a book of this quality took a full ten years to find its way into the United States and I can only hope that more foreign accomplishments of this level make it past all of the capes and tights and crossovers and events. If you want to give a non-comics reader a comic to enjoy, especially someone who loves '50s detective stories, look no further than Blacksad; you can't go wrong. ***Warning*** Juanjo Guarnido's animal women are attractive to the maximum. Just wait until you get a load of that Alma Mayer, the writer dame in the "Red Soul" chapter with those glasses, that smile, that laugh, the way she holds a cigarette. Don't get me started on them gams. I'm telling you, Jackson, I... Cripes! I think I have a thing for anthropomorphic cat ladies now. Oh well. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
Harper Row is a Gotham City power grid worker who has also found herself in possession of a ticket to a Wayne Gala event. Unimpressed by the upper crust of society, she meets the kind Alfred Pennyworth who stocks her with desserts before makes an early departure. She arrives home to find her brother badly beaten, an escalation in the gay bashing he is receiving from the other high school students. When Harper and her brother finally stand up for themselves, it goes bad, but an intervention by the Bat solves their problems and starts a star-struck Harper on a path to knowing more about Batman and how he operates. Probably not the best thing for a teenage girl to do.
This was not what I pictured as a followup to the "Court of Owls"storyline, but it was a fantastic bridge issue before the Joker makes his appearance and next month's "0" issue. Snyder expertly leads the reader into understanding and caring for Harper Row and her brother, setting up the former to hopefully have a permanent place in the Bat canon of secondary characters. This is a very different book from the previous issue. From the brooding, analytical Bruce Wayne to the young, impressionable and intelligent Harper, Snyder gracefully transitions between the two issues, successfully giving this new character a distinct voice unlike anything I have read from this writer before. Becky Cloonan also provides a drastic change from Capullo's exceptional action sequentials, but her ease with showing the Row siblings, their joy and pain, was striking and emotional; a perfect pairing with Snyder for this particular issue. James Tynion IV and Andy Clarke provide the backup story that continues immediately from where Snyder and Cloonan leave off, providing some action and a nice wrap-up to this standalone issue. This is a great jumping on point and a great issue period. Not all Batverse stories need to center on the Batman as some of the best follow the more ancillary characters such as Jim Gordan, Dick Grayson and now Harper Row. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
Slice Into the Woods
Technology in the Classroom - Hello and welcome to High School and Middle School in the United States of America. As you can see--that is if you can see past the other 32+ students crammed into this classroom and in violation of possible fire zoning ordinances--our classroom has the latest technology: monitors, projectors, computers tied to an intricate network (with only one underpaid person to maintain it for the district), and even iPads! Unfortunately, we don't have funding for things like pens, pencils, or notebooks, but never fear! Your teacher will be able to buy those non-digital-era-yet-vital-to-the-learning-process materials out of their own pockets...they even get a $300 tax credit to take a chip out of what they will actually end up paying for all those supplies. Heck, they can even pick up the items on one of their mandated furlough days or during a break for one of their many mandatory policy meetings during their "cushy" summer vacation. But, hey...you got cable in the classroom! Too bad you don't have anything to to take notes with or on. Oh, the server is down, well, the tech person should be back in a couple weeks. Keep studying though, and pull yourself up by your bootstraps youngster, you might be able to someday work for a great company in a great field like oil, where they don't pay their fair share of taxes that could give you those much needed study materials, smaller classrooms, a non-overworked and under appreciated teacher, some actual techies to get this shiny newly donated technology working, music and art programs, healthy food programs, and many of the things our schools used to have when eduction in our country was a priority.