Review by Woodrow Phoenix
Albert and the Others is a companion volume to Guy Delisle’s Aline and the Others (2006). Just as in the previous volume, which featured stories about 26 women, this book contains 26 stories about 26 men. One story per man, in alphabetical order from A for Albert to Z for Zoltan. Each man is the protagonist in a situation where he tries to achieve emotional or sexual satisfaction and succeeds or fails in some strange and funny way. These stories are all wordless and the drawing is an extended pantomime of slapstick moments.
In his second go at this material, there has been a shift in Delisle’s approach. These strips feature a lot less of the crazy transforming and deforming bodies that were the main device of the first volume. Curiously where they do occur it’s almost always the women’s bodies that morph (all of these stories are of heterosexual relationships), and the men who either orchestrate those transformations or use them to their benefit. Make of that what you will. Guy Delisle’s sketchy and slightly geometric pencil style is expressive and amusing, and he varies the look of these strips by alternating between black and white and sepia tones for each chapter.
As with the first volume this is easy to read and visually appealing, but despite its appearance Albert and the Others is very much an adult book in its sensibilities, diving deep into some twisted psychosexual territory. Although there’s hardly any murder and no cannibalism this time around, the scenarios somehow manage to be more bleakly cynical than in the previous volume. It’s intelligent, conceptually brilliant stuff, but the unrelenting misanthropy may become a bit wearing by the time you reach the last entry in the book and not everyone will enjoy the nihilistic view of human behaviour. Aline and the Others remains a much a more satisfying read both for the much higher level of visual invention and a more even balance of savagery with humour.
This is a translation of a book that was first published in French in 2001, but as the stories are all wordless really the only difference between this and the original edition is in the title and the new cover drawing.