Monday, December 18, 2017

Thirty Days Of CCS #18: Kane Lynch

Kane Lynch’s four mini comics that he sent (My Grandpa’s Secret Son, Smooth As Glass, Behold The Man, & Answers) form the gist of a slightly longer story about his family. The first mini discusses his father’s father, an abusive alcoholic who had a son (Denis) with one wife and was thrown out. Later, he remarried and had another son (Joe, Lynch’s father) whom he also managed to alienate. There are details about his grandfather contacting Denis years later and essentially demanding a Father’s Day meeting in Disneyland, but Denis had no interest. In fact, they eventually learned that Denis changed his name to Alex Hanes and denied being related to Joe when he contacted him.

The second chapter details an unusual family reunion, as a number of people in the family pieced together that Denis had had a highly “colorful” (to use his term) life in that he changed jobs constantly and had six children in six years by four different women. He often used a fake sob story about a wife and child dying as a way of going for the closing move in seducing the various women he was with. Working with a reporter who was recording the story and planning out the comic he eventually made, they were able to gather together a number of the children and exes of Denis in one place. They were planning to confront him at the dock where he was going to take a ferry to preach (he had become a born-again Christian), but they just missed him. A year later, they tried again, in one of the most fascinating, painfully awkward comics I’ve ever read.

Joe had been in seminary but later became a philosophy professor instead, and the whole group went to his service—where Denis recognized none of them. Joe brought up the story of Nathan the prophet calling out King David for his sins (“Thou art the man!”) and when Joe gave Denis his card, he recognized his name and everyone, one by one, revealed their true identities. What’s most remarkable about this scene is despite being taken completely unawares, the family was just friendly enough not to panic Denis, but his relative calm spoke to his con man instincts—even though he was “saved”.

Lynch expertly captures the swirl of emotions surrounding Denis, from the shock of knowing that he has an extended family to the feeling of being ambushed after abandoning them for years. When they went to lunch after the service, Denis tries to deflect the emotion of the moment with jokes, but he’s also generally cagey. He doesn’t tell his wife on the phone about the various children of his who are there, for example. He hits on the reporter with goofy phrases. He worries about his children going to hell. He first denies talking to his father, then says that his father asked for money. Lynch draws him as friendly to the point of ingratiating, but it’s strongly implied that this is his strategy for dealing with questions that he’s uncomfortable with. Knowing that he’s been caught, he doesn’t opt to double-down on his lies, but he’s not exactly either forthcoming or remorseful for any of his actions. He’s a cipher, albeit an entertaining one.

Lynch noted that he’s working on an epilogue to tie all of this together as well as smooth out some other rough edges, but there’s a remarkable amount of clarity considering how complicated all of these relationships are. The second chapter had some moments where it was easy to lose track of who was who, and I wish Lynch had been able to flesh out the nearly-forming relationships of cousins and step-siblings a bit more, if only to bring some background characters briefly to the forefront. Lynch is a solid cartoonist who does a lot of labor in using gesture and facial expressions to express complicated series of emotions. While the dialogue is obviously very important, Lynch is careful to use his subtle drawing techniques to show emotions rather than describe them. His use of color is subtle but adds a lot to the story, giving a real feel for the story's environment. I’ll be eager to see how Lynch finishes this off, including to see how his grandfather feels about all of this, along with the other members of the family.

No comments:

Post a Comment