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See Juanjo Guardino's masterful work at Comics Art Museum
You might not know Juanjo Guardino by name, but you may well know the Spanish artist's comic series Blacksad, which follows the adventures of a black-cat private detective in the United States of the late 1950s.
After being delayed by the pandemic, Brussels' Comics Art Museum has finally opened the show Juanjo Guardino – The Working Secrets of a Master, one of The Bulletin's top 20 events picks for 2020.
In Guardino's anthropomorphic comic strip, PI John Blacksad is a cat, the cops are German shepherds and bloodhounds, the bad guys are often reptiles, a muckraking reporter is a weasel and so on.
This is a noire series but it is rendered in gorgeous colour including detailed watercolor drawings. Guardino is a masterful artist and that coupled with classic hardboiled plots by Diaz Canales has garnered the duo both popular and critical approval with the winning of many prestigious awards and an avid international following, the books being available in 26 languages.
Guardino worked for Disney at their French studios on such projects as The Hunchback of Notre-Dame, Tarzan and Atlantis. Although drawing for animation and drawing for comic books are very different businesses, one of the glories of Guardino’s style is some very cinematic framings and shots - that with his exceptional use of colour and ability to draw emotions grab the reader immediately.
The show displays his first pencil sketches up to his completed drawings which enables the visitor to fully appreciate the painstaking process that leads to the brilliance of the final product.
Also in the show are other series, the world of fairies in Wizardry, science fiction in Omega (part of the Voyagers series) and his new project set in 16th-century Spain and the New World, entitled The Treacherous Indies.
Comics Art Museum, until 8 November, check website for pandemic visit requirements
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