Blacksad: The Sketch Files

Blacksad - The Sketch FilesSummary: Blacksad is the hit international series–anthropomorphic saga of a black cat private detective in film noir adventures. Here is the stunning behind-the-scenes look at how this exciting series was created. It includes never-before-seen production sketches, concept art and commentary about the characters, scenes and story. Blacksad: The Sketch Files is a 2005 Eisner Award nominee for best artist–Juanjo Guarnido, and offers a rare look at how a graphic novel story is created, and a must-have for everyone fascinated in how stories are developed.
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Blacksad: The Sketch Files, by Juan Diaz Canales and Juanjo Guarnido 7.75

‘Blacksad: The Sketch Files’ is basically a behind-the-scene look at the making of Canales and Guarnido’s first Blacksad book.

The first part is a text commentary on the making of the book, moderated by an unknown interviewer. It’s quite informative and insightful. If one is a fan and one wants to understand the pair’s history, what kind of artists they are individually and what their process is when they work as a team, this can be a fascinating read.

The problem is that it doesn’t show the original pages as they comment on them. I don’t know if this is a rights issue, but it made the commentary hard to follow at times – especially when they were referring to a specific frame. To truly enjoy this, you either have to have the original graphic novel on hand, or be able to remember exactly what they’re referring to.

The second part is a deconstruction of the first Blacksad book via sketches, watercolour tests and penciled layouts. It’s a treasure trove of blueprints for the original book and every page is represented and commented on by one or the other. It’s totally fascinating to see the book take shape on these pages and seeing the characters get developed like this; I consulted the whole thing without one second of boredom.

Finally, the book throws in a few loose sketches, including the first few glimpses at book two, ‘Arctic Nation‘. It wraps everything up with some other artists’ renditions of Blacksad other characters in the Blacksad universe.

All in all, it’s a terrific book for fans of the series, art student and graphic novel aficionados: it truly takes the reader into the making of Blacksad as best as a book ever could. It may not have much resonance with the casual reader, of course (hence why I dinged the rating a bit), but it’s nonetheless an excellent compendium.

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