Possibly the most pleasant comic-book diversion to come along in the last little while is Albert and the Others by émigré Quebec cartoonist Guy Delisle. Albert is a companion volume to Delisle’s Aline and the Others, published in 2006. Both of these breezy, wordless comic books lampoon the baser behaviour of the sexes – Aline targeting women and Albert men – and both feature 26 alphabetized chapters named after their individual protagonists (Albert, Bernard, Christophe, etc.).
Albert’s simplicity is deceptive; while lighthearted skewering is the order of the day, darkness underlies the majority of these surreal and blackly comic black and white stories. Over the course of two pages, bachelor Albert considers arbitrary clothing selections, then applies the same process to his closet of (happily) imprisoned women. In a thematic sequel, Isidore the fisherman catches a mermaid but throws her back for not being the right size.
Of the many scathing messages bubbling below the surface, perhaps the lesson of “Jean-Luc” is the most pointed: the tiular character is literally torn in two by women warring for his love. He is not bisected, but rather twinned, and is able to leave both of the competing women, eventually reuniting with his other self – not for the purpose of reassembling, but rather to fall in love with himself.
Ultimately, Albert is a diversion – especially in comparison to Delisle’s more political graphic memoirs Pyongyang and Shenzhen – but, like its companion volume, it will give pause to readers of either chromosomal makeup.