[Focus on] Izar Lunaček and Animal Noir
Walking down the streets of bubbling Ljubljana, Slovenia, this summer I came across Striparna Pritličje – a little independent comic shop snuggled inside a bar, a quite convenient combination I thought. That evening, the shop just happened to be starting an exhibition with a local comic artist, featuring his comic series Animal Noir. A gritty detective story with some 20’s vibes, it’s written by Izar Lunaček and Nejc Juren, drawn by Izar and published by IDW publishing.
The world of Animal Noir is based on a cold and brutal society populated by savannah animals. Zebras and antelopes are the lower working class exploited by lions and other big cats, elephants are boxing gypsies, monkeys and hippos are the mobsters, whereas giraffes are politicians and detectives. The story follows the giraffe Immanuel (Manny) Diamonds, a P.I hired by his uncle, an influential judge, to find a tape made by his wife when she was young. In this universe “Prey fantasy” is the adult movie industry (“hunt porn”) and is about wild hunting, watched by predators who are forbidden to eat the lower herbivorous classes. The first four issues take us down the dark corners of the big Serengeti city looking for the missing tape. We follow Manny dealing with all sorts of characters, from mischievous hippos to religious freak gazelles and mysterious politicians.
Izar’s drawing style largely contributes to set the story’s noir ambiance. His cartoonish but hard lines with some simple and efficient color palettes add a claustrophobic sense, which makes the reader feel the tension in a city about to explode. This is my happy discovery of the summer and I cannot recommend it enough. If you would like to read the first four issues, they are available for a few bucks here from IDW publishing.
During the exhibition I met Izar and he was kind enough to accept to answer a few of my comic-fanboy-questions!
Adrien: Hello Izar, shall we start with a short introduction about yourself?
A: What is the comic scene like in Slovenia? What are the comics that inspire you and are there any iconic Slovene comics that you would say are a must read?
A: Where did the idea for Animal Noir came from? What was the inspiration for the story?
A: In the four available issues, you and Nejc set up quite a universe. It seems that there is so many possibilities to expand the story of the different characters. I just saw that a fifth issue is on the way. Do you have any idea of how long Manny story’s gonna last?
A: How did you get your comic on the American market?
A: Do you have any other projects coming up?
You don’t mess with the elephants here!