Shelf Life
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Shelf Life: Goliath

I could subtitle this book, “in which white space has never hurt more”, and it would still be an apt description of what the book could be about.

This slim little graphic novel packs an immense visual and narrative punch, riffing off the famous biblical story of David and Goliath.

Gauld takes the viewpoint of Goliath, rendering him a gentle giant who works in the Philistine army, mostly doing administration and paperwork.

His massive size, however, is utilized by the army, and he is sent to keep watch for and face off against the yet unknown, enemy champion.


Gauld uses this beautiful sketch aesthetic and monochrome palette to tell the story, featuring stick figures, minimal settings with clean lines, and a straightforward dialogue.


It is when Gauld enlarges his panels to switch into Goliath’s perspective that you catch yourself as you are sucked into the snowballing narrative.


Goliath himself never says much, we mostly see him moving in and out of frames, between his mundane army tasks, and toward his famous and impending death that is so jarring in comparison to the figure Gauld paints him to be.


The most genius thing about Gauld’s storytelling, I think, is how he uses what we know of the ending to make the storytelling more powerful.

Only because we know Goliath is famous because he died at the ends of a young boy.
Only because we know Goliath died by a single stone to the forehead.

This knowledge sits with us from the very beginning, and begins to interfere with our emotions as we come to know Goliath as Gauld has created him, and that interference is supplemented by his use of colour shades, empty landscapes and an astute ability to panel.

Reading this book felt like I wrung my gut the way I would a dishtowel. But I was captivated.

Good storytelling does that to you – even with spoilers.

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