The AV Club | Noel Murray | March 5, 2012
“Goliath” and “Jinchalo” highlighted among March comics
Is this, at long last, the time of Tom Gauld? The Scottish cartoonist has been slowly building his reputation over the last decade, via strips, short stories, anthology contributions, magazine illustrations, and art books that have been graced with his deadpan humor and precise, minimalist designs. Goliath (D&Q) may be the book that garners Gauld the wider recognition he deserves. For one thing, it’s a fuller piece than anything he’s produced before: a recounting of the Biblical tale of David and Goliath from the point of view of the giant, who’s a reluctant draftee into a war he’d rather not fight. (Picture Karl Pilkington as an 8-foot-tall soldier in thin brass armor.) For another, while Gauld still keeps the dialogue to a minimum and the page/panel designs open, there’s an actual story here, not just one beautifully drawn joke.
And the story has points to make, too: about how perception creates reality, as Goliath’s mere presence intimidates the Israelites, and also about how even an army’s biggest weapon is just another cog in an unstoppable, insensitive war machine. A lot of great Gauld comics remain uncollected or hard to access Stateside, but Goliath makes a fine introduction for the uninitiated, both for the alternately funny and poignant scenes of its hero waiting forlornly on the plain for something to happen, and for Gauld’s art, which is typically on-point. Working with cartoony figures, silhouettes, and finely cross-hatched close-ups, Gauld captures the bleakness of the landscape, and how what looks like an insignificant pebble from far away can become hugely important when it’s landing right between the hero’s eyes.
...Matthew Forsythe’s near-wordless Jinchalo (D&Q) tells the story of a little girl who eats all the food in her house, then has a wild adventure in the market when she heads into the village to restock. The Jinchalo jacket says Forsythe was “inspired by Korean comics and folk tales,” but it’s not necessary to know that going in, since this book isn’t strictly an exercise in homage. It’s more a piece of pure cartooning, with each adorable little image leading organically to the next adorable little image, until before the reader realizes it, the heroine has encountered shape-shifters, robots, and even her own creator. Jinchalo flows easily between the dream world and the real world, finding a strange kind of order in both…