Monday, January 24, 2011

Comic Review: The Big Kahn

Another book I picked up at the local library over winter break and not for any really good reason. Sometimes I feel like I read too much fantasy and try to read some realistic fiction to balance it out but usually I find myself feeling more annoyed than balanced after reading it.

The Big Kahn by Neil Kleid and Nicolas Cinquegrani
 Summary: On the day of his funeral, David Kahn's brother reveals to his family that David was never Jewish and spent the past forty years as their Rabbi living a lie. The congregation is now mistrustful of the entire family and the family has to rethink how they viewed their husband and father and determine just what this means for them.

The Good: The book focuses on Kahn's wife and three children (with more emphasis on his oldest son and rabbi in training Avi) and their reactions to the whole situation felt very real. I didn't agree with how any of them ended up dealing with the problem but I think that's just from having different religious and cultural views, their final decisions were very in character. It's a well done character study and an interesting take a religion/culture that is different from that of mainstream America.

The Bad: While the internal struggles of the family were done well (even if I didn't agree with them) the outside conflict with the congregation felt forced. In the very first chapter it's established that Jewish ancestry is traced through the mother's line (so all the kids are Jewish, regardless of what their father was) and all of them were raised Jewish as well. So seeing the rest of the synagogue make comments about how they really aren't Jewish was frustrating, yes I know that people really can be that mean but people are also logical. Seeing the entire congregation (and yes, it appears that almost no one is on their side) change their views about them so quickly feels unnatural and instead of making me sympathize with the family more it just left me feeling rather annoyed. Maybe the point of the story was how Kahn was more Jewish than those who were born Jewish but I really don't think it was and I feel that subplot could've been dropped from the story without any negative effect on it.

The Art: Fans of animation are probably familiar with the terms "key animation" and "in-between animation." Key animation are the important frames, the ones that people actually see,  and inbetween frames are the ones that link them together and, since they are less important, they are drawn by less skilled animators/outsourced which has lead to some screenshots of horribly off model characters and just badly drawn in general. That's what Kahn looked like for most of the time sadly and you can't even say it was because of the artist's style. They were clearly going for a fairly realistic style yet the characters often looked awkward and unnatural and this could happen at any point in the book, not just the emotionally charged moments (if it had been only then then I could've made a case for it being the style). I was actually surprised how bad it looked in places, most of the webcomics I follow have more consistent art than this does.

Not connected in any way to this review but the Fractale simulcast is back! So, short of this turning out to be the worst noitaminA show ever, except a review that come April.