Animal Noir TPB ComicWow! Review

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This trade paperback contains Issues 1-4 of Animal Noir.

Izar Lunacek and Nejc Juren were both basically unknown in the American comics market. That was before Animal Noir.

These two Slovenian newcomers have delivered an amazing product.  In five issues, they have created a fascinating new universe.  It is equal parts Zootopia and Sin City.

Like Zootopia, Predators and Prey coexist.  Unlike Zootopia, the predators have not “sworn off” meat.  The “solution” to the meat problem, the “blood tax,” is a commonly known and ignored “secret.”  It leads to the development of a culture based on corruption.

It is in this corrupt world that we meet Manny Diamond, a giraffe private eye.  He has seen the corruption of the world, and he has become jaded to its hypocrisy.  He is engaged by a well-placed and influential relative to recover an embarrassing item.  It turns out that his wife had a youthful indiscretion:  she once appeared in a hunt “adult” movie.  These movies (unspoken of in polite society) allow predators to watch a simulated hunt and kill of a prey animal by predators.

As Manny hunts for the embarrassing and potentially damaging movie, he discovers a secret that shocks even his cynical sensibilities.

Readers are only slowly allowed to discover the secrets of this new world.  Lunacek and Juren are careful to reveal things slowly.  Although this is clearly an anthropomorphic animal story, this is not Equestria, or even Zootopia.  This is a darker, harsher world.  It hearkens to the corruption and double-dealing of “Omaha, the Cat Dancer,” or the world-weary feline detective, Blacksad.

Lunacek and Juren are measured in their approach.  They are clearly trying to place the reader inside the mindset of the detective.  Their story does not unfold smoothly.  It moves in starts and stops, doubling back on the reader and making them think and re-think the story.  They are trying to get the readers to follow the journey of discovery of the detective as he uncovers very uncomfortable truths.

Lunacek pulls double-duty in Animal Noir.  He is both co-author and illustrator.  His style is very “underground,” but it is also highly impressionistic.  His use of color is atmospheric, while his use of tone and shadow reflects the mood of the story.

An interesting after story describes the cultural and social underpinnings of the animal society in the comic.

Often, anthropomorphic stories are merely stories about human beings with animal faces and fur.  Classics like Watership Down emphasize the animal nature of the characters, and have them behave in a fashion that strikes a balance between human and animal.  Animal Noir strikes the balance but asks a further question:  how would the culture of such a world address the ethical balance between “human” rights and biological imperatives? This is definitely a must-read for anyone interested in the genre. Head to your local comic shop and give it a read!

Written by: Izar Lunacek & Nejc Juren

Illustrated by: Izar Lunacek