French Comic: Léonid. T. 1, Les Deux Albinos – review by Fred Patten.
by Patch O'Furr
Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.
My thanks to Lex Nakashima, as usual for this French bande dessinée album.
At first glance, Léonid looks like a cute funny-animal comic book featuring cats, roughly similar to Disney’s 1970 The Aristocats. But its story, full of blood and terror, is closer to the German Felidae, either the 1989 novel by Akif Pirinçci or the furry-convention-favorite 1994 animated feature. (Both are good, but the movie simplifies the complex story.)
The locale is the farming district of Deux-Sèvres, in central-west France. “Léonid is a cat, not yet an adult, but not a kitten, either. Just a young cat. He lives in a house in the district, in the midst of trees, pretty far from any city and close to a farm.” Léonid is a young housecat, living with two other housecats (Hoa Mai, a Siamese, and Rosso, an elderly orange Pekinese) and a dog (Mirza, a toy terrier). His household is also the home of Atchi, a mouse constantly sneezing because he’s allergic to cat hairs. Léonid is allowed outside during the daytime to associate and play with the local feral cats; the female black-&-white Ba’on, and the males Bouboule (the fat one), Arsène (the nervous one), and an anonymous one (because he’s almost immediately killed).
Two newborn lambs are slaughtered at night, apparently by a wild animal. The cats inside a house are presumably safe, but the feral cats who spend nights outdoors worry that a fox may have moved into the neighborhood – or (for those who fear the less-probable predators) a wolf or an ermine. Léonid finds out that it was two bloodthirsty albino cats, but at first he can’t convince anyone else. They think that he’s exaggerating to make himself look important; then, when the two albinos kidnap Ba’on, they say that it’s every cat for himself. Meanwhile, the farmer has set Zeus and Apollon, his two killer hounds, loose to safeguard the rest of his flock, and the dogs run bloodily through the neighborhood as a savage danger to all of the cats who aren’t safe in houses.
The Two Albinos is mostly the story of how Ba’on is kidnapped by the two albinos to be their slave, and how Léonid and Atchi, the sneezing mouse, venture outside to her rescue. They’re successful, but not really because Ba’on reveals that while she was in the albino cats’ power, they boasted that they are just the vanguard of “the horde”, “the avant-garde of the terror of Great Attila, our guide” who will kill or enslave all the animals of the district. Léonid, Ba’on, Aichi, Hoa Mai, Rossi, and Mirza are left wondering what to do when Attila and his horde arrive?
There is some humor, mostly provided by Aichi the mouse, but in general The Two Albinos is a clever light talking-animal thriller. Those who enjoy fantasies featuring the world of sentient pets will be glad to be introduced to the Léonid series.