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.
Goliath was an interesting read for me, although I know how this story is normally told, I did not expect it to be told this way. The cover and art style are very pleasing to look at, everything is a brown or sepia tone. It gives the pages an old parchment type of look. The expressions on the characters never get too exaggerated and at most only depict the emotion in the eyes with sad or angry eyebrows. It is also pleasing to the eye without shoving too much detail in your face, there is shading when needed and the nighttime scenes are done beautifully.
The story is an interesting take on the original narrative. Goliath in this story is a victim being taken advantage of by his appearance. Instead of being a grand warrior in the other versions, Goliath is a quiet man who enjoys doing military paperwork than being out in the field. Because of his large size he is used as an intimidation tactic to scare away the Israelites. He is given armor that cant actually protect him and it falls into more and more pieces each day. He also has a young shield bearer who keeps him company while waiting for a challenger. The kid is great and acts like an actual kid, instead of constantly being a nuisance, or over all charming. He has his flaws as well and is an overall good character. Unfortunately it ends like any other Goliath story, with his death. You however arent on the side of wanting to defeat Goliath, he wasnt doing anything wrong he just took the fall and was used as a human shield. This book really makes you relate to Goliath as weve all been forced into something we didnt want to do. Although not as drastic as Goliath’s circumstance. His armor did not protect him and David took back the head of an assumed warior, but took the head of an innocent man. It paints David as the villain in this case. It wasnt in self defense, it was the murder of someone forced into a battle they did not know how to fight. Goliath even says he is a terrible swordsman.
This is such a more valuable take on this story as it flips it on its head. Hero and villain are swapped and Goliath has to leave behind a friend who see him get murdered. This is a more modern story telling as most stories with already existing subject matter, like Cinderella, are often told the same way just with slightly different circumstances. There is still an evil family member abusing them, they find their prince to wisk them away to happiness and all ends well. Although Goliath still ends in his death, everything in between is different. It doesnt even show much of the soldiers, just Goliath’s every day life in which he does what he enjoys and is normally not bothered. He enjoys simple things like the coolness of the night an appreciates small things like pebbles. He is made more human, not a war hungry warrior who will take on any challenger. Goliath is even made to rea the very lines that are part of the ruse to make him seem unstoppable. Goliath is unfortunately obedient to a flaw, although he protests, he goes to his spot each and says the challenge line and waits. There was a nice balance of dialog in this book. I personally become turned off to a story when there are text walls inside speech bubbles. Here the text was easy to read and spread out enough to where I never felt I had too much to read. Not that I dont like to read text heavy stories, I just can often lose my place and not retain the meaning with too much dialog. Its very show dont tell. There are many panels with no text at all and all you are exposed to is the weight of the situations and the environment. The constant edge of your seat you are constantly on when waiting for David to appear, which you know has to happen at some point. I really thought it was going to end differently, but at the same time I wouldnt want to be any different. It made me value the character so much and then just yanked them away from you.
Investigation of Tom Gaulds’ Goliath
Tom Gauld’s Goliath contains a very simplistic style to tell a very complex story. The color scheme is black, white, and brown. The white is primarily reserved to represent the sky and horizon. The brown to represent all tangible things, boulders, people, ground, etc. The black helps to add dimension by shading all these things in. The farther apart the lines in shading the lighter something is, the more close together, the darker something appears.
Speaking of shading lines, so much of the shapes and icons depend on lines. Thicker lines outline bodies, outline the horizon, outline the animals, and really set up the basic shape. Shading lines are tiny and straight on the people. When we view animals with fur or feathers the lines that represent these are thicker and closer together, which represent the texture of the creature. Many of the rocks do not use straight lines but little cross sections of lines to make very tiny shades of squares. The lines on Goliath are plentiful on his clothes, but more far apart on his body. When we look at his face we see a handful of lines representing his scraggly beard.
There are lines in the sky as well. The sky is clear during the day but as it gets cloudier, or we get closer to night, lines will creep into the top of the panel. The sky only takes on a different color completely when the novel comes to a close. The brown overtakes the sky as a storm moves in, the lack of clarity really coincides with the shift in loyalty. The sky changing prepares the reader for Goliath’s death, foreshadows a different kind of storm.
Another reason the sky might normally be in a state of white clarity, is to better portray the icons. The icons match the simplistic description, previously mentioned. The people in this Novel have tear drop shaped heads, their bodies are a curved triangle, they have tiny cylinders for arms and larger cylinders for their legs. The spears they carry are just as simple, the top of the spear being a large triangle while the base is a very thing rectangle. One reason these icons might be so simplistic is so the artist can easily move them about the page. Also these shapes are easy to recognize, so we can make out the shadows of people when we see the panels from a far away view. This way we’re not squinting at little black spots on the pages, we know we’re seeing David and Goliath from far away.
The non-human icons are equally simple, and equally easy to move, or remain stationary. When we first see the bear, his arms are at his side, and two thick column shapes represent his bushy legs. The shading, and the separate shape for a head, make him distinct from the people. He remains still, so still the flies have come to check on him. The same for the crow, the same for other non-human icons. The general shape captures the animals’ essence but the shading and inner-line work identify its texture.
Lastly, wrapping up discussion of simplicity. There is no background icons, no real location, we just see a series of rocks stacked on each other, and a few stray rocks that everyone sits on. There is the ground, and as far as tangible things go, we only have the occasional spear to indicate that things exist in this world.
For this paper, I read the graphic novel, Goliath by Tom Gauld. Gauld retells the story of Goliath in graphic novel format. In his detonation, Goliath was someone who taken advantage of for the sake of the king and the people of Philistine. For most the story, Goliath waits for an opponent while expressing his true nature to the reader and a nine year old boy. As a whole, this graphic novel is starkly different from most novels produced in the west. From the cover, to its art, and its tactic of storytelling breaths a new light into Goliath’s story.
The artistic and stylistic choices of Goliath are simple yet distinctive. Gauld’s choice of style, in a way, represents Goliath as a character. From the cover alone, the reader can interpret the style of storytelling as simplistic. The off white cover, red lettering, and the various hues of brown gives off an easy-going type feel. Once a reader looks inside the book, this theme of meekness is carried through with the art style. For the most part, Gauld’s art is almost childish. Every panel, but the page with Goliath’s battle cry, is from the side profile give or take the landscape shots. The art is humble and the story is humble.
The repetition of browns, from the cover of the book, are carried over in the art. Unlike most graphic novels from the west, which are in color, or graphic novels from east, which are monochrome, Goliath utilizes the color brown. Brown in the art sense is seen as a softer color. Color is more vibrant and pops out at the reader while black and white contrasts. Gauld’s use of brown depicts Goliath as a character because he is soft. When he was first chosen to fight the Israelites, he didn’t want to do it. More so, he was tricked into fighting the Israelites, which expresses how naïve he can be. This conservative color scheme describes how Goliath goes about life. The nine year boy, while waiting for an opponent, asked Goliath a series of questions that he responded modestly. He has no interest in getting a wife or staying in one place for long periods of time. Goliath is a goes with the flow type of person.
Gauld’s use of panels expresses Goliath as a character in their humility. Most of Gauld’s panels are rectangles and squares that rarely differentiate from this formula. Additionally, the panels follow the eye which represents Goliath’s go with the flow type personality. When Goliath was told that he had a secret mission, he didn’t oppose it. He went with flow; Gauld’s panels do the same. Each panel doesn’t state anything in particular when it comes to plot, but it entices the reader to flow into the next panel. Like Goliath’s character, Gauld’s panels have a calculated spontaneity. During the scene where Goliath was going to run away from his mission but stayed the following day, he approached this idea of escaping with an “I’ll do it eventually” mentality. More so, his desire to leave came out of nowhere without any type of buildup which leads the reader to believe he woke up one day and came to this conclusion.
Overall, Goliath employs many different aspects to create a well-rounded story. From the appearance alone, the piece speaks volumes when it refers to Goliath as a character. This retelling of this gentle giant explores storytelling in visuals, in addition to written word. While this stylistic choice is common in all graphic novels, Goliath’s style differs from most popular styles of graphic novel. This facet makes this graphic novel stands a part by defying tropes characteristic to this genre.