Page 45 Review by Stephen
And lo, there came a stand-off of Biblical proportions.
High upon one mountain stood the mighty armies of Israel, massed in the Vale of Elah. Camped upon another, and sore strong in numbers, were the Philistines' forces for war. Below and between them lay a lifeless valley of stone and sand, and into that valley strode the Philistine Goliath from Gath. He wore a brass helmet and armour weighing five thousand shekels. Almost twice the size of a normal man, he issued a dire challenge which shook and dismayed the Israelites. For Goliath of Gath was a giant of a man, and the king's chosen champion.
"Are you sure this isn't a mistake? I mainly do admin."
Poor old Goliath!
His size has singled him out for a cunning plan devised by an excitable Captain and approved by a king far too preoccupied to read through it carefully. Now Goliath's been given his instructions, a fine new suit of armour and his very own diminutive shield-bearer. He's even had his script written for him. It's pretty incendiary; it might take a little practice. Thankfully no one seems to be biting
Exceptional work from one of Britain's finest cartoonists whom you'll find in The Guardian and New Scientist and on our shelves in the form of BAKING WITH KAFKA, YOU'RE ALL JUST JEALOUS OF MY JETPACK and MOONCOP.
He's taken one of the world's most famous confrontations - the triumph of one barely armed lad over seemingly insuperable strength and aggression - and not so much turned it on its head as tossed its coin to show the other side. For the Book of Samuel is seen solely from the Israelites' perspective. Nothing here contradicts the story. It's far more of a "Meanwhile, back at the Philistines
" and the comedy lies in confounding your expectations and the silence which surrounds this gentle giant.
It's all so still.
I love the rhythm and the crisp, white space which surrounds the sand-coloured, meticulously hatched rocks, tents and protagonists. Space equals time in comics and, I would suggest, not just between the panels. Both the silence and the space here stretch the moments. It's far from a raging arena of testosterone, but a masterpiece of quiet, uncomplaining bewilderment and absurdity.
That a boy aged nine is commanded to lug around a giant's mighty shield...!
"Are you ok with that?"
The story opens one moonlit evening with a thirsty Goliath popping down for a drink from a rippling brook dangerously close to the Israelites' army. And there he finds a pebble.
"D'you want it?"
"Why would I want it?"
Goliath contemplates the pebble for a moment then tosses it back in the water. "Plop."
He'll be seeing that again shortly.