Animal Noir #1 ComicWow! Review

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Izar Lunacek is a Slovenian comic writer and artist.  This is his first major label American comic. Likewise, Nejc Juren has little history in American comics.  IDW has hired a very new creative team to make a very different kind of comic.

There are some similarities to Zootopia. It has a civilization of animals. They wear clothes, communicate between species, have/use human technology, etc.  Like Zootopia, there are predators and prey.  It has animal police, animal criminals, and animal politicians. That’s about where the similarities end.

Although there is a lot of Zootopia here, there is even more Blacksad. This is noir. It is dark and cynical. World-weary PI’s with connections on both sides of the law handle matters too delicate for the official constabulary.

The story appears to revolve around videos made wherein predators hunt and kill prey.  It is a common vice, but one unspoken of in polite society. It is a huge business and a criminal industry.

Giraffe PI Manny Diamond has been asked to discretely recover a tape that includes the youthful indiscretion of a well-placed giraffe judge’s wife.

Lunacek and Juren’s writing is strong and fluid. Their characters start as the well-established noir tropes, but they infuse them with depth and individuality. Skillful writing helps the characters to rise above the cliché.  The plot starts as the noir trope, the PI doing a discrete recovery that gets in over his head, but this creative team is laying the groundwork to move beyond. It will be interesting to see if they succeed.

Lunacek’s artwork is a fascinating mixture.  He takes cartoony, anthropomorphic animals and manages to give them very mature and emotional context.  His use of shadow and color is strongly in keeping with the noir themes of the comic. The contrast is unique and stunning.

A first issue of any new comic is interesting. The writers need to establish new characters, place them in the setting, establish the tone and the themes of the comic, and so on. This is different in that the writers are not only doing that, they are building an entire new world in which to tell their stories.  This is a fascinating effort from two incredible talents.  It will be worth following to see if they can maintain this level of quality. For the time being, head out to your local comic shop this March to pick up the first issue and see how you like it!

Written by: Izar Lunacek & Nejc Juren

Illustrated by: Izar Lunacek