Friday, 14 September 2012
Goliath by Tom Gauld – reviewed by Stephen Theaker
He’s been chosen for this dangerous task just because he’s tall. Goliath’s captain, given free rein by a king who can’t be bothered to read the plans, thinks that in a suit of ceremonial armour Goliath will be so intimidating that no Israelite will dare to take up his challenge. Goliath is simply going where he’s told, with no conviction that what he is doing makes any sense, his eventual fate made all the sadder by the friendship that develops with his nine-year-old shield bearer. When he dies he’s just looking for his little friend, and barely has time to realise what is happening.
I’m familiar with Tom Gauld’s art from the superb covers of The Damned Busters, Costume Not Included and the deluxe Penguin Classics edition of The Three Musketeers, but Goliath is the first of his comics I’ve read. The art is in black and white, simple, cartoonish and emotive, with sepia shades, cross-hatching and plain backgrounds enhancing the reader’s sense of Goliath’s loneliness and hopelessness. Goliath is a man made lonely by what makes him useful to other people, and eventually—after a tedious forty-day mission—dying because of it. This sad, funny comic doesn’t take long to read, but leaves the reader with much to think about.