Courtney Ebert: Goliath by Tom Gauld

Tom Gauld retells the story of David and Goliath in a very unique way with simplistic dialogue and images. The only colors used in this comic are black, white, and a brown cardboard-like color. He also uses a lot of cross hatching on his drawings to add texture and make the scenes come alive. I also think that the color scheme used in this comic book bring out the ancient feel to the narrative, even though much of the dialogue is modernized. The mixture of modern dialogue, Biblical references, and simple images that feel old give a spin to this classic tale.

The other thing that Tom changes about this story is that he makes Goliath a likable and sympathetic character. Goliath is portrayed to be a gentle giant who is against killing of any kind and would rather do admin duty than patrol. This gives the story a sense of irony since Goliath is normally thought of as being the bad, menacing guy. We see nothing about David at all until the end of the comic when he appears out of the fog, seeming to be in a strange trance, saying that he has come in the name of the Lord. Goliath and his shield boy are both confused by the situation and then suddenly David slingshots Goliath with the stone. The narration then becomes very matter-of-fact and states that David cuts off Goliath’s head with Goliath’s sword and the Philistines flee. Up to this point, the tone of the comic was very light and humorous until it shifted at the end. However, there is also an ominous element throughout the narration that helps to foreshadow Goliath’s death. A few of these elements include the image of a stone and the Biblical references, such as the speech that Goliath gives, “I am Goliath of Gath, champion of the Philistines I challenge you: choose a man, let him come to me that we may fight. If he be able to kill me then we shall be your servants. But if I kill him then you shall be our servants.”

Gauld threads the image of a stone throughout this story very nicely to foreshadow what will happen to Goliath by the end. At the beginning of the comic, Goliath is seen alone in some water, staring at a rock that is in his hand. There is no narration or dialogue during this scene which makes it a very intimate and sincere moment. Then another soldier appears and asks Goliath if he wants to switch duties the next day and Goliath drops the stone into the water, which gives off ripples. This shows how laid back Goliath is and makes him a more likable and sympathetic character. The ripples in the water could also signify “the ripple effect” and the stone being dropped into the water sets off the rest of the tale. A stone is again featured later in the story when Goliath goes to meet the Captain at his tent to see what he is needed for. A stone appears next to Goliath’s feet and then rests between Goliath and the young boy as they wait for the Captain’s orders. Both of these scenes foreshadow the ending, and most people who have heard the Biblical story of David and Goliath may catch on as to what is going to happen.

There are also many awkward silences throughout this comic which add humor and humanistic qualities to Goliath and his comrades. The fact that the King seems like he doesn’t care about anything gives the Captain of the troop a sense of authority which also adds humor to the story. The Captain is a very intense character and we know from the beginning that his plan is not going to work, therefore we don’t take him seriously even though he evidently takes himself very seriously.