Cutting to the verdict: “if there’s been a finer achievement in the medium this year, the blogger’s missed it. Goliath’s a must buy experience.”
By inverting the myth of Goliath, Gauld evokes the sense that time’s running out and the end cruelly and irresistibly approaching which so many of us feel in our darker hours. At the same time, he also suggests that our freedom of action is severely limited in a world in which all of the power and little of the responsibility appears to rest elsewhere.
– Colin Smith, “On ‘Goliath’ by Tom Gauld”, Too Busy Thinking About My Comics, 15 October 2012
Here’s Tom Gauld explaining that his new graphic novel Goliath seeks to fill the gaps in the biblical narrative:
If you happen to be in London, Tom will next be appearing in Gosh! on Friday 9 March from 6:30pm for the Goliath Launch Party & Signing.
Tom Spurgeon has an interview with Tom Gauld which includes a discussion of his forthcoming graphic novel Goliath (“CR Sunday Interview: Tom Gauld”, The Comics Reporter, 22 January 2012), discussed earlier by Remnant of Giants.
Have a read of the entire interview here.
Interestingly, Tom Gauld chose to use a serif font only where he quotes fom the biblical text; the parts of the story which Gauld has “added” are in sans-serif.
Gauld claims that this distinction in fonts indicates his “more natural” characterisation of Goliath. The reversion to the biblical passages with its serif font provides “an ominous reminder of where [Goliath is] inevitably headed”, with the inference that Goliath’s destiny is imposed upon him – by the traditional and authoritative version of the story, and ultimately by God. By contrast, the parts of Gauld’s Goliath which are in sans-serif font free up Goliath to tell his own story.
In the history of the transmission of the Bible and biblical books, there are some notable examples in which different fonts have been employed. The King James Bible (1611), for example, used a Gothic font wherever its English translation included a word which was not in the original Hebrew or Greek, but which was required to make a sensible English sentence (the rest of the words were in Roman font). Modern King James Versions continue this tradition, but use italics instead of the original Gothic font. Even earlier still, some of the Dead Sea Scrolls rendered the name of the Israelite god (“Yahweh”) in a paleo-Hebrew script: the tetragrammaton was written with the Phoenician letters which were first used to write Hebrew, rather than the later Aramaic letters adopted in the Persian Period.
The reason for the switch in fonts or alphabet, in both cases, is probably to signal a distinction between comparatively sacred parts of a text. Tom Gauld’s distinction in fonts makes a not dissimilar distinction: with the serif font he indicates a formal, authoritative, sacred text which cannot ultimately be overturned, and with the sans-serif he indicates his own narrative. But for Gauld the sacred text is called into question, by what he terms his own more realistic, natural depiction of Goliath. The profane text undermines the sacred text, without quite being able to dispense with it altogether.
Given half a choice, he would pick admin work over patrolling in a heartbeat, to say nothing of his distaste for engaging in combat. Nonetheless, at the behest of the king, he finds himself issuing a twice-daily challenge to the Israelites: “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.” Day after day he reluctantly repeats his speech, and the isolation of this duty gives him the chance to banter with his shield-bearer and reflect on the beauty of his surroundings. This is the story of David and Goliath as seen from Goliath’s side of the Valley of Elah. Quiet moments in Goliath’s life as a soldier are accentuated by Tom Gauld’s drawing style, which contrasts minimalist scenery and near-geometric humans with densely crosshatched detail reminiscent of Edward Gorey.
Tom writes a weekly cartoon for the Guardian, and runs a small publishing press, Cabanon.
All of the myths of the modern state of Israel are on display in a new comic book which is available online: Captain Israel. Join Captain Israel as he creates a historical narrative in which Israel creates an oasis what was previously “the wilderness”, settles in an “empty land”, and miraculously wins battles against “vastly superior forces” against tremendous odds. (Of course, one must turn a blind eye to the technological advances of local Palestinians, the 700,000 Palestinians living there who were subsequently dispossessed, and the vastly superior army numbers and military strength which Israel has possessed since 1948.)
In the first issue, you can read that “Palestine” was only a name invented by the Romans, in AD 70 (wrong: it fails to mention that Herodotus was already using the term “Palestine” half a millennium earlier to refer to the region, or that Aristotle used the term “Palestine” to refer to the region which included the Dead Sea), and that “Palestine” is taken from the name of Israel’s “biblical enemies”, the Philistines, whom Israel defeated (wrong: the term “Palestine” was used for the entire region, including the areas of Samaria and Judea, not just the area of the Philistine cities; and the Philistines were defeated by the Assyrians, not by the Jews); and David defeated a giant called Goliath in 1000 BC (wrong: this is a legendary tale from the Persian Period, told to inflate the reputation of a legendary Jewish king).
Historical revisionism never looked so good in blue spandex!
In Issue 2, you can read that the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign aganst Israel is the equivalent of the Holocaust, and that BDS really stands for Bigotry, Divisiveness, and Slander:
And what enemy is so dangerous that the once-vaunted IDF is no longer able to handle without superhuman (and perhaps even divine) intervention? A nuclear-armed Iran? Gazan terrorists infiltrating from Egypt? A much larger Gaza Flotilla? A million unarmed Palestinians marching to the Qalqaliya and Erez “border” crossings? Members of the Jenin Freedom Theatre?
Don’t be ridiculous. The IDF, Shin Bet, Mossad, Border Police, US Congress, “stinky water” (the name really doesn’t do justice to the smell), drones, anti-missile shield or various combinations of the above can handle any of these threats.
No, the threat that only Captain Israel can defeat is none other than … the BDS movement!
– Mark LeVine, “Meet Captain Israel, the anti-BDS superhero”, Aljazeera, 6 September 2011
No, I know what you’re thinking, but I’m afraid that Captain Israel is not a prank.
It turns out that Captain Israel is the creation of right-wing American pro-Zionist group, Stand With Us (SWU). Well, who would have thought? Formed by Roz Rothstein and friends in 2001, SWU distributes pro-Israeli literature to university libraries, organises pro-Zionist speakers for campuses, places large advertisements in newspapers, and disrupts anti-Zionist meetings. It’s like the Anti-Defamation League on methamphetamine.
The Karl and Charlotte Collection:
“6,000,000 words could never say how much I love you”
“So Rösy must be the hidden Fourth!”
“What goes on in the oikonomia stays in the oikonomia”
“The sloth and misery of man”
“Open Door and Open Window Marriage”
“The Greatest Theologian of the Twentieth Century”