Saturday, June 20, 2015


Goliath is a sparse, poignant, and inventive retelling of an old, familiar tale. It re-imagines the Philistine giant as an introspective and philosophical man who is more prone to doing administrative tasks than being a warrior. However, being that he stood at six cubits and a span tall (9.5 feet!), he becomes part of a plan to deter any Israelite attack. Twice a day for 40 days he goes out decked in armor to challenge the forces of Israel, putting fear into them because of his massive size.
Not much of a warrior, he is more a tool of his leaders. He spends much of his day in the company of a 9-year-old shield bearer, and mostly he stares at the wastes in the valley and the rocks that cloak the enemy camp. Eventually, he does not even go back to camp with his troops and chooses to stay out in the valley, perhaps even contemplating deserting his post. This is a darkly funny book, with his quotidian routine making him quite relatable. And when the inevitable ending occurs, it does not seem very celebratory.

The creator responsible for this clever, moving book is Tom Gauld, a Scottish cartoonist who draws a weekly comic for The Guardian. His collection You're All Just Jealous of My Jetpack was one of my favorite books of 2013, and his spare artwork bursts with meaning and feeling. He speaks more about his work, both on this book and in general, in this interview.

Goliath has received much praise and was nominated for an Eisner Award. Marty Mulrooney concisely concluded, "Goliath tells a familiar story from a fresh angle and the results prove delightful." Noel Murray praised the book "both for the alternately funny and poignant scenes of its hero waiting forlornly on the plain for something to happen, and for Gauld’s art, which is typically on-point." Jeff Jackson wrote that it is "an example of what good storytelling can do, even with stories we’ve heard hundreds of times."

Goliath was published by Drawn & Quarterly, and they have previews and much more information about the book here.

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