Paranoid Apartment by Lala Albert


The focus of Lala’s work and one of its strongest aspects is her figures. Her characters bodies feel pressed down by an ethereal gravity, faces smashed into appealing oblong shapes. The manner in which she depicts bodies is also unique, choosing to almost instinctually trace the contours of these figures which leaves them imperfectly shaped and attractively disproportionate. Warped grids and wavy line-tones (?) overlay these figures at time, fading in and out of the background of panels giving off a sense of vertigo which is fitting as the main character astrally projects herself after imagining different ways she could die.
Lala’s pages are gutterless which fits with her sparse clean linework. Being that this is a mini, Lala condenses the story by trimming down the time between panels and at a point or two this becomes somewhat unintuitive for a reader. The first page alone rushes the character from day to night, a quick jump that one may think is because the character experienced a small concussion which we find was only a dream. If one isn’t paying attention you might think this is a through sequence and the character is healing but slowly you realize these are all instantaneous panicked delusions that are quickly quelled by reality. The fast cuts are great because they muddle your own perception of this character and cause a satisfying dissonance with the narrative itself.
As the girl haunts her new subletter, the transparent outline of her body overlays his, her movements articulated through repetitive overlaid drawings of a hand, an eye or an entire which at one point towards the end is stretched across multiple panels which makes it feel as if shes moving slowly, finally providing a break in the chaotic cutting and letting her exist in real time. Hints of yellow are smeared across pages but sometimes are relegated to only filling in a figure or a panel and sometimes leading the eye while other times they seem to break the rule and are used to acknowledge a dramatic moment.
One of my favorite parts of this story is when the paranoid ghost woman begins terrorizing her subletter by sharing her paranoia. Her body suddenly contains spiders or the lines of a shattered stairway or crumbling drywall and this is all overlaid on the other characters body, infecting him with her nightmarish ideas. Basically Lala is just cool and her dark whimsical short stories full of fleshy leering women (Tidepool!) never fail to grab me.

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