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.
The first issue of Animal Noir was a fascinating exercise in noir world building—a look at a dark and cynically version of Zootopia.
The government is corrupt at all levels, and that corruption is tolerated by all because the basis of their society is an uneasy predator/prey balance maintained by a “blood tax,” where overabundant prey species provide meat for the predators, and “hunt porn” is a major (but underground) industry in which predator and prey actors re-enact bizarre vorarephilic predator fantasies.
It is in this world that a giraffe private eye named Manny Diamond finds himself crisscrossing the already blurred lines between right and wrong. A relative, a well-respected jurist finds that his wife, in youthful indiscretion, made a hunt porn film. The judge, who cannot afford such a scandal coming to light, asks Manny to find and destroy the films—quietly.
Manny soon discovers that the existence of these films is not as secret as he wished. As he gets deeper into the world of hunt porn and the realities of the meat supply, he finds that even his cynical view of the world could not prepare him for the harsh and cruel realities that secretly rule their world.
This is not the happy endings world of Zootopia, where problems are solved with optimism and faith in the essential goodness of ones fellow beasts. This is not the world of Blacksad, where a cynical feline moves through the world driven by a Dashiell Hammett-like sense of personal morality. In this world, the blood tax, unlike Soylent Green, is a known and accepted part of society. There is nobody in their society free from the guilt. Even Manny knows and tacitly accepts that he lives and thrives in a society where one class is culled to serve as food for the other.
There is speciesism, not only between predator and prey, but also between other species. There appears to be no part of society untainted. Charities seek to place children orphaned by the blood tax into good homes, with no sense of either irony or hypocrisy. Discussions about the blood tax refer to the problems that could arise from certain species overbreeding. Animals are stereotyped and derided based on fur patterns, eating habits, and even mating patterns.
This is a fascinating world – Frank Miller Meets Walt Disney. If that genius combination appeals to you, head out to your local comic shop and give this series a read!
Written by: Izar Lunacek & Nejc Juren
Illustrated by: Izar Lunacek