Amarillo is the fifth installment of the the Blacksad series. It was published in 2013 by French publisher, Dargaud, and republished in 2014 by Dark Horse Comics. In 2015, Amarillo received the Ursa Major Award for Best Anthropomorphic Other Literary Work.
The story begins with Chad a lion writer, who travels the road as a vagrant with his on-again off-again friend Abraham (a bison), a poet. Abe views his vocation more romantically than Chad, who sees writing as his career and a means to money, and Abe accuses Chad of not having a true passion like he does. Abe takes his collection of poems he was about to publish and burns them, and encourages the appalled Chad to do the same with his next novel's manuscript- to give it a "proper ending."
Blacksad is happy to be taking a well-earned vacation, staying behind in New Orleans for a while, while Weekly returns home to New York. He lands a side-job when a rich Texan asks him to drive his prized car to Tulsa, Oklahoma where he is flying. Blacksad accepts, enjoying the free roadtrip. At a pit-stop, two hitch-hikers (who we see are Chad and Abe) steal the prized car and Blacksad, with the help of a street gang, motorcycle after them, hoping to catch them on their way to Amarillo.
Meanwhile, Chad and Abe party with Abe's friend, Billy (a flamingo)—a mobster. In front of all of Billy's friends, Abe humiliates Chad by saying he is afraid of the cops and has no guts, forcing him to prove it by shooting a shotglass off of Abe's head. Chad cannot do it, however, and the entire bar laugh at him. Later on, into the wee hours, Chad, Abe and Billy sit smoking, drinking and talking. Abe drops into the discussion that he has mailed Chad's manuscript off to some place in Asia, and Chad is instantly infuriated—that novel was his ticket out of the vagrant life, and out of relying on Abe to live. Billy and Abe laugh, until Chad finally takes the gun from earlier and shoots Abe out of vengeance. Horrified, Chad flees in Blacksad's prized car. He crashes it into a post box, and retrieves his manuscript.
Blacksad parts ways with the bike gang in Amarillo and runs into Neal Beato (a hyena), a litigious, suspicious lawyer while he woos a potential client into suing his boss, a circus owner, for replacing him unlawfully. Overhearing their conversation, Blacksad suggests they are after the same person, and they travel to catch up with the circus where Chad is indeed working. Meanwhile, Chad struggles to fit in, and makes friends with one of the performers, a beautiful and mysterious psychic named Luanne (a Siamese cat), but is warned about becoming close to her by one of the clowns, the massive and imposing Polyphemus (a bear). Later that night during a performance, before Luanne is to go out and perform her act, Chad catches Polyphemus attempting to rape Luanne and while Chad and him fight, she stabs him in the neck. It is an uproar as the circus members apprehend the fleeing Chad and after the show finishes, decide the best way to deal with the tragedy is to abandon Chad and Polyphemus' body in the wilderness. Luanne however has tagged along unbeknownst to them and she and Chad escape on the road, to repay Chad for not ratting her out and with mutual thanks they catch a train to start a new life—but Elmore (a koala), the circus leader, finds out they have escaped.
Blacksad and Neal make a stop at Blacksad's sister's church, and borrows a car from her and her enthusiastic little son. Eventually the both of them catch up with the circus. Blacksad questions Elmore about Chad, but Elmore lies and betrays Blacksad to the police. After escaping, Blacksad follows and eavesdrops on Elmore as he tries to kill Chad by throwing him off the moving train, however Elmore misses and plummets to his death. Blacksad sees Chad and Luanne embrace, and realize what has happened.
At a Greyhound Bus depot in Chicago, Blacksad and Neal arrange for Luanne to stay with Blacksad's sister for a while. Neal promises to represent Chad and get him off with less than a year for the manslaughter of Abe, and help him publish his manuscript—the fabulous payout from Chad's manuscript will make both of them rich. However, out of guilt, Chad has thrown the manuscript away, comparing it to toilet paper. Neal is outraged, and their loud arguing attracts a crowd. Chad tries to stop Neal from walking away, but in grabbing his coat, accidentally imbalances Neal into the road and he is violently hit by one of the buses. Blacksad runs to the ensuing commotion and sees Chad, distraught, holding the bleeding and broken body of Neal in his arms. While the crowd murmurs that Chad pushed him, Neal's last words mention how he fell in love with Blacksad's sister from the moment he saw her. Blacksad and Chad flee. He finds Luanne as she is about to leave and insists Chad go with her, and lie low for a while, while he deals with the police. Blacksad approaches, and is about to be handcuffed... when Chad stops them, and confesses everything, hoping to atone for what he has done.
Blacksad returns to New York, eager to get back to work, and water his plants. Meanwhile, in a bathroom stall back in the Chicago Greyhound Bus depot, a well-to-do man finds an abandoned manuscript in the bathroom, and is engrossed in reading it.
|Blacksad by Juan Díaz Canales and Juanjo Guarnido|