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D+Q at ELCAF - Saturday June 14

Updated May 23, 2014


Drawn & Quarterly is very excited to be attending the third East London Comics & Arts Festival. ELCAF takes place on Saturday June 14th, from 10 am to 7 pm in the Oval Space, 29-32 The Oval, London E2 9DT.

D+Q is delighted to announce that Tom Gauld, Anouk Ricard, Seth, and Chris Ware will be attending ELCAF.

Tickets are available now from the ELCAF website. Stay tuned for signing schedule and panel information.
 
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Featured artists

Seth
Tom Gauld
Anouk Ricard

           Featured products

Palookaville 21
You're All Just Jealous Of My Jetpack
Benson's Cuckoos




  Comic Book Resources on Tom Gauld's SDCC Panel

Updated January 7, 2014


"Review: SDCC: Tom Gauld Teases New Book, Reveals Artistic Process"
By Corey Blake
Comic Book Resources

"During a spotlight panel on his artistic process at Comic-Con International in San Diego, which mostly focused on readings of selected cartoons and discusion of process and influences, "Goliath" and "You're All Just Jealous of My Jetpack" cartoonist Tom Gauld let slip news of his third book to be published by Drawn and Quarterly. Details were vague due to the book's early stage of development, but Gauld hesitantly revealed that it is set in space.

The presentation began late due to the previous panel running over so Gauld, who was introduced by D&Q editorial and marketing manager Julia Pohl-Miranda, quickly jumped into a reading of his murder mystery short story from 2010, "The Locked Room." The quirky characters and funny reveal, along with his understated delivery, drew laughter and a warm reception from the appreciative crowd. During the reading, panels were projected one at a time as an accompanying slideshow. Once Gauld was finished, the complete page was displayed to reveal his layout.

"I do a cartoon every week for The Guardian newspaper, and I spent a summer holiday drawing that cartoon," Gauld said. "I enjoy doing weekly cartoons so much that I continue to do weekly cartoons [on my own]." This led him to creating "The Locked Room" in 2010.

This past year, he created "Robot Fairytale," a reworking of the Grimm fairy tale "The Mouse, the Bird, and the Sausage." Before his reading of that cartoon, he explained his affection for fairy tales and the way that shows up in his own work. "I suppose one of the things I like in my comedy is to come up with something absurd and then try to do it in a deadpan, almost convincing way," he said. "I think that's something that sometimes happens in fairy tales."

Copping to the fact that he uses robots a lot in his work, he said, "You're not making, necessarily, a super-realistic picture of a character; you want almost an icon to stand in for that character [to give] a simple way of expressing things. In a way, a robot is a simple, iconic version of a person." He feels robots have a sad quality to them because while they are beings, they are also products, designed to do nothing but perform a simple task. He then showed a poster he designed for the band End of Level Boss, saying he intends to write a short book about the giant robot featured in the poster.


During his email communications with his publisher while designing the robot, Google Mail started feeding Gauld ads targeted to his interests. Odd ads for robots started popping up, so Gauld designed a series of robots based on what he imagined from the simple text ads.

"In my stories, I'm quite often inspired by impressive, amazing stuff from my childhood, like 'Star Wars' or something like that," Gauld said. These epic stories also inspire his artwork, but his tales end up being about something ordinary. He also enjoys the "nerdy aspect" of creating the technical designs of how a robot would work, despite it never being able to actually work. "I like to keep straight-faced about it."

On major childhood influence on his workis LEGO. "The units are so beautiful and simple, such lovely little blocks, that when you put them together, you almost can't help but make something nice," Gauld said. He recently discovered that he has a similar approach to creating comics by creating "these nice little units and try to combine and recombine them to make things." That kind of approach was also used in a recent t-shirt design for the website BoingBoing. He created a variety of robots made out of the same pieces that seemed to infinitely repeat.

Following a reading of the cartoon "The Art of War," Gauld delved into his graphic novel "Goliath," which has its roots in his adaptation of the Biblical story of Noah's Ark in "Kramers Ergot 7." The experience of shifting the perspective while not changing the facts, and his interest in doing a story with a giant main character, led to him turning his attention to the story of David and Goliath. While delving into that story, Gauld realized that most of the focus in The Bible is on David. "Poor Goliath," Gauld said. "He's not really even a character in that. He's just this thing to be beaten." He noticed that in other depictions as well, there's no attempt to elicit sympathy for Goliath, while David had God and the universe on his side. "I didn't want to rewrite the story so he's blameless, but I wanted to look at the same events."


Gauld's BoingBoing robots
Gauld then showed early character sketches, illustrating his process in designing Goliath, to whom he gave a small head and bad posture to accentuate his size. Gauld also worked on giving the world atmosphere and getting dialogue right, which he confessed is the hardest part of the creative process for him. "I've been drawing since I was tiny, so that's all the fun part. It's slightly more work to work out the text." Finally, he added a 6-panel grid layout, which he occasionally broke to add excitement or change pacing, and his recognizable "obsessive crosshatching" which he feels gives his work warmth and a human level.

After an overview of some of his commercial illustration work, including interlocking book covers for the "Wimbledon" trilogy by Nigel Williams and a book of short stories by Neil Gaiman, and a reading of the short story "Skull Collection," Gauld shared information about "You're All Just Jealous of My Jetpack," a collection of his weekly cartoons for The Guardian.

He walked through the process of producing a cartoon, which begins with his editor Ginny Hooker emailing him a set of letters around noon on Tuesdays, often apologizing ("I'm sorry, this is all we've got"). A cartoon is due 24 hours later. "My cartoons do have to relate to one of the letters," Gauld said. "Quite often, the letters, they're very dry, they're very serious, quite often even boring. So I try and just take the letters as a jumping-off point and have fun with them." He brainstorms ideas in his sketchbook until he has a good idea, and then the next day draws the cartoon in pencil. He also uses PhotoShop to "move bits around" and as a color guide. When Gauld revealed "I'm quite color blind," an audience member related so much he began applauding.

The title of the book is based on the frequent debate in the Saturday Review about science fiction writers versus literary writers. In the end, Gauld enjoys boiling down tiny ideas until they work as what he described as "haiku-like things." For the last year or so, he's been posting the Guardian cartoons on his Tumblr page.

Following a reading of the hilariously brief short story, "Short Story," Gauld opened the floor up to questions.

One person was surprised to discover that he's younger than she assumed, which Gauld sid happens frequently. He joked that most people expect "an old guy with a big beard." He added, "Hopefully [my work] doesn't feel dated, but it feels maybe not as if it could be pinned down exactly."

A question about any cultural differences between the editors of The Guardian and The New York Times revealed that it mostly had to do with scale caused by the size of the market. At The Guardian, one person approves the final cartoon, but at The New York Times, it goes through three different people, who also check spelling and punctuation. However, he said there is no difference with the content, and that the two papers are comparable.

"I definitely want to do animation," Gauld said in response to a question about experimenting in different formats. He revealed that in 1996, he nearly chose to study animation but felt comics were challenging enough and studied illustration.

Gauld also mentioned doing another book with Drawn and Quarterly, along with his current cartooning jobs and illustration work. When questioned for more information, Gauld apologized that he couldn't reveal specifics. "I shouldn't talk about it yet. When my work's in its earliest stage, I get very cautious about blocking it off, so I tend to keep quiet about it." Then, he reconsidered and added, "It might be set in space." No date was given for the release of the new book."
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Featured artist

Tom Gauld

          



New D&Q titles wickedly funny, according to Fast Forward Weekly

Updated September 11, 2013


"New batch of Drawn & Quarterly releases wickedly funny: Comics find humour in everything from pop culture to parenting"

by Bryn Evans
Fast Forward Weekly, July 18, 2013

A pack of new Drawn and Quarterly releases proves just how wickedly versatile humour is within the comics medium.

The best of the bunch is Lisa Hanawaltís My Dirty Dumb Eyes, a psychoanalytic grab bag of comics, sketches, movie reviews and other assorted oddities.

Her illustrated review of Steven Spielbergís War Horse gained some online attention recently, with its mix of awkward personal confession, digressive pop-culture tidbits, observations on how stupid audiences can be, and a sharp critical eye. The other movie reviews are equally hilarious. Rise of the Planet of the Apes is a paranoid rumination on why she hates monkeys, while her review of Drive tries to determine where Ryan Goslingís psychotic character sits on the scale of stoic versus autistic action heroes.

The rest of the pieces combine the same love of the personal and cultural, like a scatological mediation on artistic practice. (Hanawaltís practice, anyway.) Add a healthy predilection for drawing giant, life-like lizards in lingerie and you have the ideal kind of cartoon collection ó something to be randomly dipped into again and again. She notes that alternate titles included Dick Lizards and Boob Dogs: A Memoir and What We Draw About When We Draw About Sex Bugs. Both descriptions are equally apt.

Another collection, Animals With Sharpies, is exactly what it sounds like ó animals writing insults, confessions and assorted dumb things with a black Sharpie. If you liked Toronto-based illustrator Graham Roumieuís bitter and hilarious Bigfoot books, youíll love this.

The series of one-page painted panels combine the same knuckle-headed comedy (animals have terrible grammar, apparently) with a kind of deeply depressing, Schopenhauerian philosophy. Itís a kidís book for smarty-pants grown-ups.

That isnít meant as a backhanded compliment. Like Hanawaltís collection, Animals is the best kind of cartoon book ó less the sum of its parts and more made for maximum flipability. Though there are a few moments that are simply a rumination on ďWhat would an animal say if it could talk,Ē Canadian creators Michael Dumontier and Neil Farber are more interested in the idea of what you can do with a plain rectangular panel and a Sharpie ó everything from simple lines and shading, to jokes, Morse code, lists, scribbles, Bible passages and more.

Tom Gauldís collected series of snappy and sardonic comic strips, Youíre All Just Jealous of My Jetpack, first appeared in The Guardian, and itís great to have all of these poisonous little gems in one place.

The Scottish cartoonistís clean, designer-like style suits the bitter content, with diminutive stick figures, maps and diagrams cataloguing a course of modern failure and disillusionment. It also serves as a deadly attack on artistic pretentiousness, taking shots at just about everyone ó critics, writers, musicians and academics. (The title refers to science fictionís marginalization outside so-called ďproper literature.Ē)

The ghost of Edward Gorey is an obvious presence as well, with many of the strips displaying the same faux-Victorian language and dry, macabre humour. Gauld can be relentlessly depressing, but hilariously so. Youíll want to gorge on the comics, but that might prove to be too much for one sitting.

Finally, Quebecís Guy Delisle (Pyongyang, Burma Chronicles) returns with another autobiographical tale. Unlike his earlier travelogues, A Userís Guide to Neglectful Parenting is much closer to home, a series of comic strips detailing the gentle hijinks and varied misadventures of fatherhood.

Delisleís oft-grim sensibility and mischievousness packs a bigger bite here, with his two young children repeatedly falling victim to their fatherís twisted sense of humour.

The slim volume offers a different side to Delisleís cartooning, appearing more like a collection of Sunday morning strips than a graphic novel. Itís a quick read, with the sparse panels and pages racing from joke to joke.

I wouldnít call Delisleís approach to parenting neglectful ó itís too involved and witty to be such. Itís traumatic, crass and occasionally cruel, perhaps, but certainly not neglectful.
 
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Featured artists

Michael Dumontier & Neil Farber
Tom Gauld
Lisa Hanawalt

           Featured products

You're All Just Jealous Of My Jetpack
Animals With Sharpies
My Dirty Dumb Eyes




  CultMTL calls You're All Just Jealous of My Jetpack "smart, silly, and hilarious"

Updated September 10, 2013


"Three Hot New Cartoon Books"

by Jeff Miller
Cult Montreal, July 4, 2013

Berlin-based cartoonist Ulli Lustís Today is the Last Day of the Rest of Your Life is a harrowing account of her adventures as a young teenage punk on the road. Set in 1984, this autobiographical tale begins with the restless 17-year-old Ulli spending her days wandering the streets of Vienna meeting interesting people and doing her best to avoid Nazi skinheads. She makes out with her boyfriend, learns how to give stick-and-poke tattoos and is constantly insulted on the street for her punk style.

Ulli meets Edi, who suggests that they hitchhike to Italy and sneak over the border. What follows is an epic road trip. The book weighs in at nearly 500 pages and Lust pays close attention to the trials and triumphs of the no-budget travel of her teenage protagonists. In addition to hitchhiking, Ulli and Edi also hike treacherous mountain paths populated by wild boars, and later they reluctantly attend the opera in Verona and even visit St. Peterís Basilica.

In Rome, the wandering pair find a tribe of street kids to call their own. On their first night with their new crew they sneak into a Clash concert and Ulli remarks ďwe had arrived in paradise.Ē But following a summer living on the streets of Rome, Ulli migrates further south, finding herself alone in Palermo. Lust sensitively depicts the predicament faced by her younger self; without money she is vulnerable to the men who offer her food or a place to stay, and when she refuses the inevitable propositions she is either insulted or attacked.

Eventually Ulli gives up on Italy, returning home to her parentsí house, leaving a black ring of dirt around the tub after bathing for the first time in months. Today is the Last Day of the Rest of Your Life is a gripping read that feels like a story a close friend might tell you after returning from a long voyage. Lustís lively illustration style and enthralling narrative voice make this graphic novel a feminist On the Road for the twenty-first century.

Montreal cartoonist Joe Ollmannís new book is about the dissolution of a relationship, but the circumstances which bring about this domestic unravelling are deeply weird. Together for six years, Mark and Sue are lower-middle class, slightly depressed and totally in love. One night while watching an alien abduction scene in a rented movie, Mark suddenly recalls his own abduction by aliens years before, breaking down in tears and shaking in fear. Sue is initially sympathetic but refuses to believe Markís recovered memories.

The couple remain locked in this stand-off for weeks, growing increasingly distant and unable to communicate. Mark begins to unravel, staying home from work, refusing to wash, and spending countless hours on alien abduction message boards. Meanwhile, a distraught Sue seeks emotional support (and eventually more) from her boss.

Ollmannís story is entertaining throughout and often quite funny, using these unconventional circumstances as a vehicle to lampoon the boredom and comfort of domestic life. Ollmannís illustration style is rough and cartoony, and conveys the high emotional charge of the story, slyly drawing the reader into Mark and Sueís strange conflict, one which has no clear resolution by the end of the book.

Scottish cartoonist Tom Gauldís second book from Drawn & Quarterly, Youíre All Just Jealous of My Jetpack, collects his comic strips originally published in the Guardianís review section. These strips mix high culture with low, creating a rare alchemy that is pitch-perfect and full of fun.

Gauld is a master of hilarious combinations. In one strip, a semi-nude Allen Ginsberg is Spidermanís new crime-fighting sidekick. The webbed wonder advises Ginsberg ďIíll catch the crooks in my web, then you blow their minds with a poem.Ē Elsewhere the novels of the Bronte sisters are adapted into a videogame. And in one of the most mordant strips in the collection Samuel Beckettís version of Tintin wanders a bleak landscape and mutters ďLife might be slightly less horrible further on.Ē

All the strips offer a humorous engagement with the tropes of fiction and the banalities of literary creation, including self-aware literary characters who complain that their indecisive writer keeps changing their names, and Barbara, ďa complex literary creation,Ē who is forced to break up with Michael, a mere sci-fi character. Many of the funniest strips involve absurd and erudite conceits such as ďThe Mouse, The Bird, and the Difficult Novel,Ē or ďFeminist James Bond.Ē Throughout the collection, Gauldís comic strips are smart, silly and hilarious. ■

Today is the Last Day of the Rest of Your Life by Ulli Lust, Trans. by Kim Thompson, 460 pp. $37 (Fantagraphics)

Science Fiction by Joe Ollmann, 2013, 128 pp. $18 softcover (Conundrum)

Youíre All Just Jealous of my Jetpack by Tom Gauld, 2013, 160 pp. $19.95 hardcover (Drawn & Quarterly)

Jeff Miller is the author of the award-winning short story collection Ghost Pine: All Stories True. He lives and drinks coffee in Little Italy.
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Featured artists

Joe Ollmann
Tom Gauld

           Featured product

You're All Just Jealous Of My Jetpack




You're All Just Jealous of Tom Gauld's Publishers Weekly Update

Updated September 10, 2013


"You're All Just Jealous of My Jetpack"

Publishers Weekly, May 13, 2013

Following on the success of Goliath, Gauld offers a collection of strips drawn from his weekly cartoon for U.K. newspaper the Guardian. The author offers wry perspectives on many topics, from trivial amusements to darkly serious subjects, from literary infighting to the war on women, and from video games to generational conflict. Instead of giving in to despair, Gauld seems to embrace human absurdities, reveling in the comedic possibilities offered without languishing in mean-spirited cruelty. His economical artóthink Edward Gorey drawing elegant stick figuresóis married to dry, incisive humor, making each strip a carefully composed marvel. The Guardian strips have for the most part not been available to North Americans. This book will change that and establish Gauld on this side of the Atlantic as a cartoonist on par with Charles Addams and Gary Larson.
 
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Featured artist

Tom Gauld

           Featured product

You're All Just Jealous Of My Jetpack




  Paste Magazine calls Lisa Hanawalt's latest "something kind of awesome"

Updated June 5, 2013


"My Dirty Dumb Eyes by Lisa Hanawalt"

By Hillary Brown
Paste Magazine, May 30, 2013

Lisa Hanawaltís first major collection makes for an interesting comparison to Tom Gauldís Youíre All Just Jealous of My Jetpack, with which it shares many similarities. Both works avoid long-form narrative, embracing the comic strip rather than the comic book. Both also have obvious obsessions (Hanawaltís include horses, Chimeras, hands, movies, and genitals), and both like to take an idea and spiral out from a sensible next step or two into surrealism. But where Gauldís aesthetic is all restraint, Hanawaltís visual style has more in common with that of Brecht Evens: she thrives in watercolor and bold hues, often rendering figures with blobs of pigment that either remove or minimize outlines. One drawing spread across two pages features a number of human-animal hybrids (mostly human bodies, animal heads) attempting to capture a giant purple-pink horse with the aid of lassos and helicopters. It doesnít have a joke or a story to drive it, but itís a delight to look at.

But unlike some of the more obnoxious anti-narrative work out there, My Dirty Dumb Eyes doesnít aggravate. Perhaps thatís because Hanawalt mixes her illustrations with movie reviews (her coverage of Drive was all over the Internet), lists, and journalism (a visit to the Toy Fair at the Javits Center in New York). Or perhaps itís because her id-driven images of people molesting each other with hand mixers or a combination of wildflowers and veiny penises seem to spring from an unfiltered place. Sheís not trying to impress anyone; she canít help but draw these things that her brain chews over.

One longer story, about a moose-human who compulsively carves fingers out of clay while struggling with artistic difficulties and mild depression, ends with one character saying, ďIt doesnít matter if you feel good or bad while you make stuff. . . . Stop crying and move your hands!Ē Parable, comic a clef, or whatever it may be, it seems to hold the key to these pages: draw it, do it, let it flow, and the results will be at least something. Happily, My Dirty Dumb Eyes is something kind of awesome.
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Featured artists

Tom Gauld
Lisa Hanawalt

           Featured products

You're All Just Jealous Of My Jetpack
My Dirty Dumb Eyes




North Adam Transcript calls Tom Gauld's latest "intelligent, insightful"

Updated June 5, 2013


"The Kiosk: Classic literature on the defense"

By John Seven
North Adams Transcript, May 24, 2013

....Scottish cartoonist Tom Gauld's work is seen in our country and, for the last eight years, on a weekly basis in the Guardian's Saturday review section. He made a big splash last year with his brilliant graphic novel "Goliath," which recast the Bible myth from the giant's point of view and added sympathy and insight to his situation.

This new book collects Gauld's newspaper work and captures the multi-faceted mind behind the drawings. With a sense of humor that is sometimes erudite and other times silly -- in a good way -- Gauld's interest focuses largely on the literary, particularly the classic canon, but also poking fun at genre cliches, while at the same time pitting pulp tropes up against "serious fiction" in order to take down the snobbery. The title of the book directly references this sentiment, the idea that genre fiction might be silly sometimes because of its props and even predictable, but you can't beat fun.

And Gauld's work isn't all paneled cartoons. He also offers maps -- such as the hilarious "The Street Tome Waits Grew Up On" -- charts, fake game screens and even diagrams, both color-coded and ven, as well as other usable keys. There's also the plainly incomprehensible, as with his lovely "The Reason I Ws Late Explained In a Diagram."

The next time you pass around another predictable gag from The Oatmeal, keep Tom Gauld in mind for further cartoon exploration. Intelligent, insightful, he doesn't create cartoons of information you already know -- and he doesn't cover ground that everyone else does.
 
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Featured artist

Tom Gauld

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You're All Just Jealous Of My Jetpack




  Design Taxi gushes over Tom Gauld

Updated June 5, 2013


"Clever, Funny Cartoons That Poke Fun At Our Technology-Obsessed Society"

By Dorothy Tan
Design Taxi, May 13, 2013

Scottish cartoonist Tom Gauld, who has been contributing regularly to the Guardian for years, draws witty, short-and-sweet one-panel comics that make fun of our era, which cannot ďliveĒ without smartphones, e-books, infographics and other tech obsessions.

Finding the space constraints of his medium to be stimulating instead of restricting, Gauld works hard to make the best out of his limited real estate and tells funny but compelling stories about the internet generation.

ďMostly I find that the small space helps the process of making cartoons. It forces me to boil things down to their simplest form, which I think makes for good jokes and interesting cartoons,Ē he said.

One of our favorite cartoons from him stars an ill-fated Kindle, who wanted great literary works to be read on him but found himself used for recipes in the kitchen insteadóhe eventually drowned in a pot of onion soup.

Gauldís cartoons are now collected in a new book titled Youíre All Just Jealous Of My Jetpack, which you can purchase on Amazon.

You can also check out his Tumblr page for more of his awesome satiric cartoons.
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Featured artist

Tom Gauld

           Featured product

You're All Just Jealous Of My Jetpack




Bookmunch: "Gauld goes from strength to strength"

Updated June 5, 2013


"'Gauld goes from strength to strengthí Ė Youíre All Just Jealous of my Jetpack by Tom Gauld"

One of the nice things about Bookmunch is that it affords us the odd review copy or two. Thatís what we get in exchange for us blahing on about whichever book it is weíve decided to blah on about that day. Whatís more, because weíve been blahing on now for about ten years or more, publishers know that if we get sent a book itís more likely than not that weíll review the thing. Which is nice. For the most part. Occasionally, it can get a bit ugly (there is a publisher, naming no names, who ignores all of our requests for books and then once in a blue moon asks us if weíll review or interview one of their authors, which weíll bend over to accommodate in the hope that it leads to a new plateau of friendship in which we get sent books to review Ė only for ignorance to rapidly re-establish itself when theyíve had the coverage they want Ė very, very shoddy); occasionally we donít get the books we want (if they wonít send us Hilary Mantel, we wonít review it); occasionally, we might have a grumble along the lines of Ďwhat are we doing this for if weíre not being sent the books we want?!?í - but for the most part, it all works.

I say all of this by way of preamble. D&Q, a respected comics publisher, will not send us review copies so a great many of their books will go unreviewed on Bookmunch. Which is a shame. However, we love Tom Gauld. We loved his book, Goliath. We loved his book, The Gigantic Robot. We love his weekly cartoon in the Guardian. We have a Tom Gauld print on the wall in our bathroom. Weíre wearing a Tom Gauld robot tshirt we bought from BoingBoing as we type this. We buy his books (which, you should know, in a world of free books is a big deal). More than this, in spite of not being sent free Tom Gauld books, we are taking time to write a favourable review of his new book, Youíre All Just Jealous of my Jetpack Ė we do this because, in spite of the paucity of D&Qís publicity budget, Tom Gauld is a storyteller who warrants our enthusiastic support. So: big upraised middle finger to D&Q; hearty jazz hands for Tom Gauld.

What you get in Youíre All Just Jealous of my Jetpack are about 150 cartoons, a great many of which are hilarious, in a laugh out loud fashion, often feeling like mini-novels in their own right (the cartoon that opens the book seems to skit Sam Savageís Firmin, concerning as it does a mouse who doesnít put food away for the winter because he wants to finish reading Ulysses; this is bookended by a piece at the close of the book in which a King writes a poem about his beautiful castle, despite the enemy at the gates Ė a poem that ends up a paean to beautiful ruins). Gauld is also a great satirist of both the literary life (there is a cartoon in which a young man asks a publisher if said publisher will publish his short stories Ė publisher says no; a hilarious roundtable on DH Lawrence covers; a laptop languishes) and literature in general (Gauld riffs on everyone from Shakespeare through Hemingway and Philip Pullman). There are also great sci-fi jokes (a complex literary heroine abandons her beau because heís a sci-fi hero), clever cultural asides (seven cartoons describe what will be added to the film version of your novel Ė these include explosions, dance routines and dream sequences), historical interludes (ranging from 25,000 BC to the court of King James 1 in 1611), apocryphal Bible stories (I defy anyone not to chuckle in the face of Jesus commiserating with his Dad who sits reading The God Delusion in a funk) and dozens of other cartoons impossible to slot into such narrow defiles.

All told, Youíre All Just Jealous of my Jetpack is an extremely pleasant way to while away a few hours and, like all Tom Gauldís books, it repays continued rereads.

Any Cop?: Gauld goes from strength to strength and his latest collection is as good as anything heís done before.
 
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Featured artist

Tom Gauld

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You're All Just Jealous Of My Jetpack




  Tom Gauld's You're All Just Jealous of My Jetpack review

Updated June 4, 2013


"Exposing The Follies Of Our High-Tech Society, One 'Toon At A Time: A New Collection of Cartoons by Tom Gauld Takes on E-Readers, Infographics, and More."

By Kyle Vanhemert
Co.Design, May 10th, 2013

Graphic novels are more popular than ever these days, partly because artists have pushed the medium into new and exciting territory in recent years and partly, you have to imagine, because people are just too lazy to read real novels. If thatís the case, then Tom Gauldís new book of single-panel cartoons is of the times on a few levels.

For one thing, each cartoon is digestible in a few seconds, like any good quip should be in the era of Twitter. But the real joy of Gauldís work is how shrewdly it pokes fun at that era, deftly zeroing in on the small absurdities of a society saturated with video games, e-readers, and infographics.

Gauld, a Scottish cartoonist, has been contributing his bite-size works to the Guardian for years, and his new book, Youíre All Just Jealous of My Jetpack, collects dozens of them in one handsome volume. He says he tries to stand out from the rest of the paperís heady fare by including things like robots and monsters, but theyíre always making some point thatís as smart as it is funny.

The most common theme of Gauldís strips, broadly speaking, is technological progress--and its often overlooked consequences. In one cartoon, a tattered cookbook laments a Kindle who met an untimely death in a pot of soup. In another, a lamp gets excited about the addition of a wood-burning stove to the living-room family, only to find himself outmoded and cast out on the sidewalk for the taking.

In those cases, Gauld makes light of the casualties of progress. At other times, the humor comes from adopting the visual language of our times in unexpected ways. He shows a frame from a Bronte sisters video game and a faux-infographic detailing the make-up of an angry mob.

Each joke gets to the very essence of something, and Gauld says that gets helped along by the constraints of the form. "Mostly I find that the small space helps the process of making cartoons," he says. "It forces me to boil things down to their simplest form, which I think makes for good jokes and interesting cartoons."

He also strives to make the best use of that limited real estate as possible, working an idea over to find the most effective way of representing it. "I try to think of the idea in as many different ways as I can," he explains. "I might have an idea which would make an okay one-panel cartoon, but Iíll try it as a three panel strip or an infographic."

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Featured artist

Tom Gauld

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You're All Just Jealous Of My Jetpack




Boing Boing: Tom Gauld "a delight to read"

Updated May 2, 2013


"You're All Just Jealous of My Jetpack: a collection of Tom Gauld's brilliant cartoons"

Mark Frauenfelder
Boing Boing, 1 May 2013

My glib description of Tom Gauld's cartoons would be "a science fiction Edward Gorey." It's unfair though, because there's is only a superficial stylistic resemblance between the two writer/illustrators.

To read a Tom Gauld cartoon or illustrated book (see my reviews of The Gigantic Robot and Goliath) is to be entertained, but also to be affected on a deeper level, where timeless truths about the human condition wait for talents such as Gauld to tap a line into them and provide lesser mortals like me with a chance to taste them.
Gauld's new book, You're All Just Jealous of My Jetpack came out yesterday, and it consists of single panels that explore the passage of time, absurdism, and most of the 7 Deadly Sins, all presented with a sense of graceful whimsy that makes his work such a delight to read. Below, a sampling of You're All Just Jealous of My Jetpack.
 
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Featured artist

Tom Gauld

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You're All Just Jealous Of My Jetpack




  Flavorwire is all about "dark and funny" You're All Just Jealous Of My Jetpack

Updated May 2, 2013


"ĎRhett Butler: The Video Gameí and Other Awesome Literary Cartoons by Tom Gauld "

Emily Temple
Flavorwire, 30 April 2013

Scottish cartoonist and illustrator Tom Gauld is pretty brilliant. His work, like last yearís Goliath, is reliably insightful and literary, with a wryly sweet bent. His newest collection, Youíre All Just Jealous of My Jetpack, which hits shelves in the US today, is just as dark and funny ó especially if you like books, as Gauld does. Some of the best comics in the collection are the bookish ones, taking chummy digs at everyone from Martin Amis to the BrontŽs to ďproper literature.Ē After the jump, laugh and feel literary at the same time with a few of his best book-themed comic strips, and then be sure to head on over to his website to check out more of his work.
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Tom Gauld featured in the Paris Review

Updated May 2, 2013


"The Funnies"

The Paris Review, 29 April 2013
 
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  The Property and You're All Just Jealous Of My Jetpack on Robot 6

Updated May 2, 2013


From "What Are You Reading? with James Hornsby"

Brigid Alverson
Robot 6 @ Comic Book Resources, 21 April 2013

(...) Well, I just ended the weirdest week of my life -ó I live just north of Boston, ínuff said ó so the package of advance review copies from Drawn and Quarterly couldnít have been a more welcome distraction. And when I opened it up, I thought ďThey read my mind.Ē The first book out of the box was Tom Gauldís Youíre All Just Jealous of My Jetpack. I thought Gauldís graphic novel Goliath was the best graphic novel of 2012, so Iím predisposed to like anything he does, but I have to admit Jetpack is very different in tone. Gauldís trademark styleósilhouetted figures, simple settings, muted paletteóremains the same, but the subject matter is much lighter. The book is a compilation of short gag comics originally drawn for the UK paper The Guardian. This is comics for the well-read, filled with knowing jokes about literary and film tropes. Some of them made me laugh out loud, while others are almost like abstract exercises that stretch the capabilities of the medium a bit. Itís a smart, funny, handsome little book that is a nice read and would be a great gift for a Serious Reader as well.

The term ďgraphic novelĒ is used these days to refer to pretty much any comic in book format, but Rutu Modanís The Property really feels like a novel. The story of a young woman and her grandmother who travel from Israel to Warsaw to reclaim property lost during the Holocaust, it has a fairly complicated plot and an interesting cast of characters. Itís not a simple read, but it is impossible to put down, and Modan takes full advantage of the economy that the comics medium provides, letting the pictures provide the setting and descriptions and the dialogue carry the story. In one sequence, for instance, the grandmother looks out the window of a cab and sees the modern Warsaw cityscape morph into the Warsaw of her girlhood. Modan also uses changes in palette to signify shifts in time and place, and each of her characters has a distinct personality that you can take in at a glance (although things are not always quite what they seem). There is a particularly beautiful scene toward the end that is set in a cemetery, done mostly in dark, muted colors, punctuated only by the bright colors of the candles that visitors have placed on the graves. There is no question that this will be one of my picks for the best book of 2013. (...)
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Tom Gauld

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Paste Magazine digs You're All Just Jealous Of My Jetpack

Updated May 2, 2013


"You're All Just Jealous of My Jetpack by Tom Gauld"

Hillary Brown
Paste Magazine, 30 April 2013

Except for the basics of its visual style, this collection of Guardian strips from Tom Gauld is rather different from the authorís acclaimed narrative, Goliath, released last year. Itís a little strange to see praise for that relatively-serious book on the back cover of this compilation of silly jokes. Is this new creation ďquietly powerful and emotionally grabbing,Ē as boing boing described Goliath? Er, no, but if you need something in your powder room for everyoneís amusement, Youíre All Just Jealous of My Jetpack will more than do the trick.

Gauldís work has a lot in common with that of Michael Kupperman. Both rely on a set of references that recur frequently, clearly obsessions of the author. In Kuppermanís case, these include Mark Twain and Albert Einstein (crime-fighting, mystery-solving duo) and Hercules (public-domain superhero). Gauld has a great love of robots, Victorian literature, spacemen, and surrealism. Read in short chunks, the book is terrifically funny. Strung all together, it can be the teensiest bit repetitive.

Gauldís style results from extreme simplification, but in a way that resembles the Nazca Lines more than early cartooning. His figures often appear without faces, or even arms: just a collection of dark shapes loosely connected. Color rarely enters the picture. This deadpan approach nicely offsets the silliness of the scenarios, which might involve aliens almost abducting Queen Victoria or the apocryphal Bible story involving Mary adventuring undersea. Itís the Buster Keaton method of stoicism in the face of chaos.

Gauldís frame of literary and historical reference is impressive and often secretly educational (the things you can learn about noted type designer Eric Gill[!] ó no, really, Google him), but heís not just throwing out names to sound smart. His understanding of conventions allows him to express many of his comics in a catalogue format. Examples include the many different genres of book cover, all using the same basic figure and a few accessories; the inevitability of what occurs when you bring home a flayed hand; and, ultimately, the failure of art to do much at all. Youíre All Just Jealous of My Jetpack is awfully pessimistic and awfully cheery at the same time, which is exactly what a short-form newspaper comic should be.
 
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  The London Times' glowing review of You're All Just Jealous Of My Jetpack

Updated May 2, 2013


From "Her Wings of Desire"

Tom Gatti
The London Times, 20 April 2013

(...) Tom Gauld ó who, like Collins, does a weekly cartoon in the Guardian ó has collected his strips in You're All Just Jealous Of My Jetpack. Every single-page piece is a clever, funny, slightly bonkers riff on a literary theme: the book's title is Science Fiction's response to Proper Literature's snobbish tutting. We get some of the errors in Dan Brown's new book explained ("rabbits are mute, so the phone call in chapter three is impossible"); Kenneth Grahame's initial character ideas before settling on Ratty, Mole and Mister Toad (Prawny, Spoon and Madame Aubergine); a season of innovative Shakespeare productions (including Toddler Coriolanus and Skype Romeo and Juliet) and BrontŽ Sisters: The Videogame. Gauld's graphic novel, Goliath, published last year, was a sublime, Beckettian take on the Bible. With Jetpack, he mops up everything else.

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Comic Book Resources loves Tom Gauld

Updated May 1, 2013


"Actually, I am kind of jealous of Tom Gauldís 'Jetpack'"

J. Caleb Mozzocco
Robot 6 @ Comic Book Resources, 18 April 2013

The title of Tom GauldĎs Youíre All Just Jealous of My Jet Pack, a collection of the Goliath artistís comic strips from The Guardian, comes from the punchline of one of his many gags about literature (youíll be hard-pressed to find another collection with half as many jokes about Charles Dickens as this one). A small circle of dull-looking people identified with an arrow as ďProper LiteratureĒ are tut-tutting, while an astronaut with a rocket-shaped jet pack, shooting out fire, billowing black smoke and little star-shaped sparks, identified by arrow as ďScience Fiction,Ē diagnoses their problem with him (a comic strip is, of course, worth a thousand of my words; see above).

If sci-fiís great advantage over proper literature is its cool stuff, like jet packs, then comicsí great advantage over prose is that we can not only imagine jet packs, but we also get to see what they might like look like as filtered through the imagination of an artist with a unique and compelling style. Someone like, oh, say, Tom Gauld.

Gauldís style is incredibly simple, abstracted down to such a point that it would fall somewhere to the right of stick figure and to the left of pictogram, but itís hardly simplistic ó his people generally have perfectly round spheres atop slightly out-of-shape conical torsos, with parentheses-shaped arcs forming boneless, noodley arms and legs. They appear quite often in extreme long-shot, and as silhouettes, as the precise details of the figures generally arenít as important as what they are symbolizing.

In fact, their simplicity is quite often the source of the gag in the strip. For example, a strip titled ďBook Cover Design Is EasyĒ is divided into eight panels, each featuring the same book with a differently colored cover, and the same, menís room sign-simple figure standing in the same place on each cover, slightly modified only to correspond to the genre of book. So that the romance book has him holding a large daisy, the cookery book has him holding a frying pan, and so on.

Thereís a great deal of visual acumen and solid, image-making craft on display in Gauldís strips, however. The minimalist artwork not only keeps clutter out of the way of the jokes, allowing for maximum effect, but it forces the reader into the position of collaborator to an extent that more realistic, more detailed artwork canít. One canít really lazily read Gauldís comics; they necessitate engagement, a dedicated level of participation that makes the reader more receptive to the jokes.

The downside is, of course, that when they fail to land, they crash loud and violently. But when they hit, which is a good 90-some percent of the time, they hit hard.

The jokes are mostly literary and urbane, but in such a playful way that while thereís a certain threshold of knowledge one needs, the very idea that someone is cracking jokes about Francis Bacon, the Bronte Sisters and Henry David Thoreau* is in and of itself funny (In a Venn diagram** comparing Gaultís sense of humor to that of Kate Beaton, I think youíll find a noteworthy section of overlap).

Some are awfully obscure, like ďAn Ant Remembers the Making of ĎUn Chien Andalou,ĎĒ and another that features an Old English word that necessitates an asterisk explaining it in the comic itself ó and, again, that very obscurity is in itself amusing.

The vast majority of the humor and subject matter is, however, bookish, if not dealing with specific writers and genres, then in jokes about mediums and novels and scholarship and criticism and the history of the above and how changing times are affecting them. Plus jokes about robots, booze, time travel, jet packs and good old-fashioned slapstick.

Itís a pretty intoxicating blend of highbrow and lowbrow humor, really; the former cut without just enough of the latter to keep it from being pretentious or off-putting. If one likes reading and if one is a writer or has spent any time in academia, then thereís a lot of strips seemingly made especially for one (Many of these seem like they would be found on the bulletin boards and refrigerator doors in the staff rooms of college professors and librarians).

And if thereís one thing that comics as a medium excels at, itís in mixing high and low together to come up with something unique. With Goliath, Gauld proved himself a great storyteller. With Youíre All Just Jealous of My Jetpack, he proves to be just as great a joke-teller.

* Plus lots of Shakespeare gags and, as I mentioned, a great deal of Dickens gags. Oh, and lots of jokes about being trapped in wells.

**There is also a pretty good Venn diagram joke in here.
 
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  Mother Jones on You're All Just Jealous Of My Jetpack: "Ideal for your coffee table"

Updated April 16, 2013


"Quick Reads: You're All Just Jealous of My Jetpack"

Michael Mechanic
Mother Jones, 15 April 2013

Readers of the Guardian and the New York Times Magazine may recognize the poignant and often dark humor of Tom Gauld, whose new collection of mostly unpublished cartoons pokes fun at literature and media of all stripesóa Beckett spin on Tintin, a Bronte sisters video game!ónot to mention futurism, religion, modern art, and the hubris and frivolity of humankind in general. In one strip, a pretentious worm reproaches his unseen inquisitor for asking, "Are you happy?" So the questioner instead turns to a bird that has just swooped in to devour the worm. Answer: "Yes." Ideal for your coffee tableóor that rack by the shitter.
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The A.V. Club praises My Dirty Dumb Eyes and You're All Just Jealous Of My Jetpack

Updated April 15, 2013


From "New comics releases include alternate-history fantasy-horror and a colorful foodie memoir"

Noel Murray
A.V. Club Comics Panel

April 9, 2013


(...) Youíre All Just Jealous Of My Jetpack (D&Q) collects some of the comic strips that Gauld has drawn for The Guardianís book review section, which means that most of them have a literary bent, riffing on famous authors and genre conventions. Gauld imagines a BrontŽ sisters videogame, with Charlotte racing across the moor toward an angry, cane-wielding man; and he draws some of the characters left out of Kenneth Grahameís The Wind In The Willows, such as Prawny, Madame Aubergine, and Viscount Stout. He re-conceives Charles Dickens as Batman (complete with Dickensmobile) and cites ďMaryís Undersea AdventureĒ and ďSpace JesusĒ as some of the apocryphal Bible stories. The jokes in Youíre All Just Jealous Of My Jetpack are quick one-pagers, dispatched in just a few panels, but theyíre rooted in a love of the human side of books: the real people who write them and the fictional constructs who occupy them. That Gauld is able to get so much of that across with so little is like the most disarming, confounding magic trick. (...)

Unlike Gauld and Martin, Lisa Hanawalt mixes her one-off gags with multi-page humor stories, more in the mode of Michael Kupperman in terms of taking an approach that mixes illustrated text pieces, short strips, sketches, and sprawling sagas. Kupperman provides an approving pull-quote to the back of Hanawaltís My Dirty Dumb Eyes (D&Q), joined by Patton Oswalt, Julie Klausner, and Kristen Schaal. Hanawaltís comic style is all her own, though, mixing surrealism, raw sex, cute critters, pop culture, and her own first-person reportage and movie reviews. In short form, Hanawalt ponders how the creatures in Avatar poop (out of their mouths, she presumes), and shows what happens when a lover finds a womanís ďd-spot.Ē (She turns into a dinosaur.) In longer form, she has an animal-headed couple discussing the self-doubt of artists, and imagines celebrity chefs engaging in liquid-nitrogen fights. The subject matter in My Dirty Dumb Eyes ranges from the bizarre to the commonplace, and Hanawaltís art can be both jaw-droppingly beautiful and purposefully hideous. Sheís the opposite of Gauld and Martin in some ways, expressive where theyíre minimalist. But what matters most is that sheís very, very funny, making what in other hands would be shock-comedy come off more like a friend describing a crazy dream. [NM]
 
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  Tom Gauld tells Xpress a little about himself

Updated April 15, 2013


"#WHYIGETOUTOFBED: TOM GAULD"

Ben Tallon
Xpress, 3 April 2013

Who are you and what do you do?

Tom Gauld. Iím a cartoonist and illustrator. I make a weekly cartoon for the Review in Saturdayís Guardian. My graphic novel ďGoliathĒ was published last year and a collection of my cartoons titled ďYouíre All Just Jealous Of My JetpackĒ comes out in April.

How are you?

Iím pretty well. Iíve fallen a bit behind with some projects recently so Iíll be better when I catch up a bit.

Tell us about your work

I love to draw, thereís nothing better than sitting with a sketchbook and a pen and a cup of coffee and doodling away. For me telling stories is much harder than drawing, but itís worth the effort. I want my stories to be minimal, with no extra fuss or frippery, but to still have warmth.

Do you express yourself through creativity?

Yes.

What was the last thing you created?

I made a poster today for a talk Iím giving next month, I had to do it very quickly so Iím rather relieved it turned out quite well.

What has inspired you as of late?

Reading ďBuilding StoriesĒ by Chris Ware has inspired me to work hard and aim high with my next project.

What are you reading/watching/listening to at the moment?

Iím reading Tenth of December, a book of short stories by George Saunders, which is amazing. Iíve been watching House of Cards on Netflix, which Iím really enjoying. And Iím counting the days till Game of Thrones is back on TV.

Why do you get out of bed in the morning?

On weekdays, the urge to get to my studio and work. At weekends, my children demanding pancakes.
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The Comics Reporter looks at You're All Just Jealous Of My Jetpack

Updated April 15, 2013


Tom Spurgeon
The Comics Reporter, 9 April 2013

I'm a minor-league fiend for Tom Gauld's cartoons and long have been. If there's a single book out there for 2013 that's pre-sold, at least as far as I'm concerned, both as consumer and critic, it's You're Just Jealous Of My Jetpack, a collection of the UK cartoonist's published work in (I believe) various mainstream magazines and similar sources. I want to mention this book in a review because I want people to know that it's out there and because I'm not all the way sure I understand what it is that Gauld does. This is very light material, in a sense; there's an animating principle, an element of criticism of excesses of expressed culture that's pretty standard for a lot of cartoon-makers. Some of the warmest cartoons are a nudge of an outsized but perhaps accepted practice or notion into a kind of seriously-taken absurdity -- it's a New Yorker construction, basically, without the self-satisfaction and outright branding that intrudes into that process. Whatever that quality may be, Gauld executes his version in I think pleasing fashion; there are almost no cartoons here that fall done the gag taking a stumble, and that isn't easy to do.

I suspect that the cartooning plays a significant role here, the way these cartoons look as opposed to how they're constructed in service to an idea -- which is an artificial distinction but one of those that we frequently use in comics due to the medium encouraging us to see its effects as a clash of elements rather than a synthesis of same. Gauld has one of those talents that reads at a significant reduction in size, allowing him to cram a lot of information into a tiny space. He also draws authoritatively -- if there's something with which his style cannot engage, he avoids drawing those things -- and with an element of humor folded into the basic design. By that last point I mean both that Gauld draws extraordinary objects in goofy fashion as a way of undercutting their self-importance -- there's a lot of Don Knotts in several of the portrayals -- and that Gauld also knows how to grind humor out of the ordinariness of objects, their mundane and unremarkable qualities. I enjoyed this book.
 
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  It's Nice That: Tom Gauld "one of the worldís great cartoonists"

Updated April 4, 2013


"Tom Gauld's short comics finally come together in a deservingly beautiful new book"

James Cartwright
It's Nice That, 19 March 2013


With 2012ís Goliath receiving widespread critical success in Canada and the US, Tom Gauld has been slowly but surely chipping away at the North American market, securing his position as one of the worldís great cartoonists in the nation that consumes his medium more than any other. Though Goliath was Tomís first full-length graphic novel, heís been famous on this side of the Atlantic for a number of years now, not for long-form pieces of illustrated narrative but for short, sharp, three-panel stories.

His latest volume Youíre All Just Jealous Of My Jetpack collects the very best of these short comics, all published in The Guardian over recent years, into one succinct volume that bristles with Tomís acerbic wit, casting his critical gaze on everything from abattoirs to British literary greats. Compiled into a single volume, these mini tales take on a collective narrative that explores contemporary society in depth, forcing us to scrutinise ourselves and the realities we take for granted. More importantly theyíre just seriously funny. Go buy them!
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Tom Gauld

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Design Week in anticipation of You're All Just Jealous of My Jetpack

Updated April 4, 2013


"Youíre All Just Jealous of my Jetpack"

Angus Montgomery
Design Week, 15 March 2013

For the past seven years, Tom Gauld has published a weekly cartoon in the Guardianís Saturday Review section.

Often intellectual, frequently absurd, always hilarious, they provide a whimsical and perceptive view of culture, literature and life itself.

Now a collection of Gauldís cartoons have been brought together for new book Youíre All Just Jealous of My Jetpack.

Featuring Chaucer, Shakespeare, Dickens and ĎBrontŽ Sisters Ė the videogameí, the new work seals Gauldís reputation as one of the best cartoonists working in the UK today.
 
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  Tom Gauld in the Irish Examiner

Updated April 4, 2013


From "Rebirth of the comic form"

Don Mahoney
Irish Examiner, 2 January 2013

(...)Finally, Tom Gauld has been long admired for his pithy cartoons in The Guardian, and Goliath (Drawn & Quarterly), his retelling of the biblical story, effortlessly maintains that tone over the longer form and delivers it with a quiet mastery. It is also, as one would expect of Gauld, exquisitely rendered.

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Eye's review of Goliath

Updated April 4, 2013


"Gentle Giant"

Clare Walters,
Eye Magazine, Vol. 21 No. 83, 2012

Tom Gauldís Goliath tells the story of David and Goliath from the latterís point of view. In this version, Goliath of Gath is a gentle giant, a mediocre swordsman who loves paperwork.

Nevertheless, he is selected as champion of the Philistines, and duly heads into the valley of Elah to issue his challenge to the Israelites: to choose a man to fight him to the death in single combat to decide the outcome of the war.

As most of us already know, this doesnít end well for Goliath. But by the time David slings his fatal stone we have come to love this alternative hero, whom Gauld portrays as a loner: contemplative but brave, and kind to his nine-year-old shield bearer.

Much of the emotional resonance of the story is shown through tiny details of facial expression, hand gestures and body language, such as Goliathís stooped shoulders in contrast to the expressive eyebrows of the unbearably perky Captain Ė an ambitious Ďcompany maní.

Gauld depicts the barren, silent landscape, littered with rocks and stones, in his customary cross-hatched brown and black. The sparse terrain dividing the warring armies hints at unknown threats behind the boulders, echoing the bleak modern battlegrounds of Iraq and Afghanistan.

The empty nightscapes, with their waxing and waning moon and pinprick stars, speak of the loneliness of the isolated giant, while the depiction of the weather, changing from sun, cloud, lightning and mist suggests the passing of time over the 40 days and nights of the challenge.

The inclusion of contemporary idioms, such as the Captainís triumphant ĎYes!í combined with a raised fist, are so anachronistic that they invite laughter (as does the in-joke of a raven on Goliathís writing desk). Yet it is the pathos of its sad end that gives Goliath its punch. Gauld emphasises the violence of Davidís deadly throw with a full page image of the stone heading directly out of the page towards us. The reality of Goliathís death is a shock.
 
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  Tom Gauld's upcoming book on Seattle Pi's radar

Updated April 4, 2013


"From Bookpills to Baking with Kafka: The Book Mind of Tom Gauld"

Michael Lieberman
Seattle Pi, 18 February 2013

Here is a healthy sampling of some of the book-friendly cartoons by Tom Gauld. His latest book YOUíRE ALL JUST JEALOUS OF MY JETPACK will be published later this year by Drawn & Quarterly.

The book comprises a selection of Gauld's weekly cartoon for The Guardian, His tumblr, whose title mirrors the book title, is a treat to scroll.

As the the publisher of the forthcoming book states: "Again and again, Tom Gauld reaffirms his position as a first rank cartoonist, creating work infused with a deep understanding of both literary and cartoon history."

Hard to argue with that.
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Bookgasm calls Goliath "mundanely hilarious and heartbreaking"

Updated February 25, 2013


by BRIAN WINKELER on DECEMBER 18, 2012

What if Goliath of Gath (see: The Bible) were an everyday Joe who was the wrong size in the wrong place at the wrong time?

Thatís the premise for Tom Gauldís mundanely hilarious and heartbreaking graphic novel GOLIATH. Rather than the mindless man-hulk of biblical lore, this Goliath is a desk jockey whoís content minding his own business, but whose size places him square on the radar of bureaucrats who provide him flimsy armor and an inquisitive 9-year-old shield bearer (e.g. ďDo you have a gigantic you-know-what?Ē) but not much detail concerning his role in their military strategy against the Israelites.

Knowledge of our protagonistís brutal fate makes GOLIATH an almost painful read ó you canít help but feel for a guy whoís a pawn in a game of war in which he has no personal stake, and the truly funny dialogue echoes the mundane managerial pettiness perfected in British television like THE OFFICE.

A London-based cartoonist for THE GUARDIAN, Gauld is not looking to make any grand statements Ė he aims for blackly comic satire. And like Davidís sling, GOLIATH hits the bullseye. óBrian Winkeler
 
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  Vancouver Sun selects Goliath as one of five graphic novel picks of 2012

Updated February 25, 2013


Five graphic novel picks from 2012
BY SHAWN CONNER, VANCOUVER SUN
DECEMBER 17, 2012

Goliath (Drawn and Quarterly) Ė Readers of the New York Times Sunday Magazine may recognize Tom Gauldís work; the Scottish cartoonistís repurposed stick figures accompany the weekly Riff column. Actually, Gauldís work isnít quite as simple as ďrepurposed stick figuresĒ makes it sound, and he imbues this retelling of the David and Goliath story with pathos and a lasting, sweet melancholy. (96 pps, hardcover, $19.95)
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Alternative Magazine Online calls Goliath, "delightful"

Updated January 16, 2013


Alternative Magazine Online: The Best of 2012 Awards
By Marty Mulrooney
14/01/2013 ∑ 9:25 PM

Goliath by Tom Gauld Ė ďGoliath tells a familiar story from a fresh angle and the results prove delightful. Graphic novels have the power to move and stir emotions as successfully as any novel. The only real negative of Goliath is its brevity Ė at 96 pages, this charming tale will easily be consumed within an hour, if not less. Perhaps more graphic novella than graphic novel then, but donít let that put you off. Goliath is one of the very best of its genre and shouldnít be missed, especially by those who like their humour spiked with a healthy dose of melancholy Ė the ending, when it comes, is a total knockout.Ē
 
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  Montreal Gazette recommends Guy Delisle, Tom Gauld, and Chris Ware's

Updated January 16, 2013


Rewind 2012: No shortage of top-shelf titles
By Ian McGillis, Gazette Literary Critic December 21, 2012

MONTREAL - Gabriel Garcia Marquez canít write anymore. Philip Roth says he wonít be writing anymore. Gore Vidal, Nora Ephron, David Rakoff and Maurice Sendak definitely wonít be writing anymore. With an attrition rate like that, youíd be forgiven for assuming that 2012 was, for readers, a decided downer. But as the array below will attest, it has been a year of riches.

Try as I may, I canít read everything: Alice Munro, Peter Carey, Junot Diaz, Ian McEwan, Tamas Dobozy, Will Ferguson, Peter Dubť and Tess Fragoulis are just a few whose newest books taunt me, untouched, from the bedside table. Think of what follows, then, not as an attempt at a definitive Best of 2012, but rather an account of a year in reading by someone for whom books fall only slightly below oxygen and food in the list of lifeís essentials.

Chris Wareís Building Stories (Pantheon, $55) is so original that writing about it almost demands a whole new vocabulary. From its form (14 discrete volumes of varying size and format inside a large box) to its Escher-like approach to narrative (the volumes can be read in any order), this literary objet díart ó it can scarcely be called a book as we understand that word ó can make you re-experience the thrill of first encountering literature. Best of all, the innovation is there to serve an immaculately observed human-scale story of an ordinary woman in an ordinary Chicago apartment block. You sense that if Ware hadnít gone into cartooning, he could have been Raymond Carver. Newness notwithstanding, thereís nothing ďdifficultĒ about what Ware has done, beyond his occasional use of eyeball-straining lettering ó and hey, weíve never held small type against the compact edition of the Oxford English Dictionary, have we?

Chris Wareís colossal achievement shouldnít obscure other advances in the thriving realm of graphic literature. Tom Gauldís Goliath (Drawn & Quarterly, 96 pages, $19.95) employs spare imagery and even sparer dialogue to render the hapless fall-guy giant of the Bible an existential hero. Jeff Lemireís The Underwater Welder (Top Shelf Productions, 224 pages, $24.99) further refines the emotionally affecting way with blue-collar struggle and familial conflict that won Lemire so many fans with his Essex County trilogy. Guy Delisleís Jerusalem: Chronicles from the Holy City (Drawn & Quarterly, 320 pages, $24.95) is the most ambitious and counterintuitively funny of Delisleís innocent-abroad accounts of everyday living in global hot spots.

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Canada.com's Holiday Guide lists Charles Burns and Tom Gauld among top graphic novelists

Updated January 16, 2013


Five graphic novel picks from 2012
BY SHAWN CONNER, VANCOUVER SUN
DECEMBER 17, 2012

Every year a greater variety, not to mention number, of graphic novels appears on bookstore shelves, or whatís left of them. This year was particularly busy in the illustrated memoir field, led by Alison Bechdel. Her graphic novel Are You My Mother?, which followed 2006ís acclaimed Fun Home, was one of the more talked-about books of 2012. By far, though, the graphic novel that generated the most chatter was Chris Wareís Building Stories, a book-in-a-box that is as solid a demarcation between the past and future of the medium as was the first issue of Robert Crumbís Zap Comix (regarded by many as the first underground) in 1968. Building Stories isnít included in this list Ė itís covered elsewhere in the paper Ė but here are five books we think demonstrate, in different ways, the potential of the medium.

Goliath (Drawn and Quarterly) Ė Readers of the New York Times Sunday Magazine may recognize Tom Gauldís work; the Scottish cartoonistís repurposed stick figures accompany the weekly Riff column. Actually, Gauldís work isnít quite as simple as ďrepurposed stick figuresĒ makes it sound, and he imbues this retelling of the David and Goliath story with pathos and a lasting, sweet melancholy. (96 pps, hardcover, $19.95)

The Hive (Pantheon) Ė Charles Burns is the standard-bearer of creepy horror in modern comics. The Hive, the second in a proposed trilogy, turns romance comics clichťs inside out in a story fuelled by nightmare logic, fantastically rendered in Burnsian black-and-white. (56 pps, hardcover, $25.95)
 
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Charles Burns
Tom Gauld

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Goliath




  Tom Gauld's "Goliath" in the Montreal Review of Books

Updated August 23, 2012


Losing My Religion

Review by Ian McGillis
SUMMER 2012

If itís true that history is written by the winners Ė and history would certainly seem to bear that out Ė then letís spare a thought for one of the all-time losers. The Philistine Goliath of Gath has been viewed through the ages as a sacrificial stooge for plucky little David to smite; the necessary fall guy in the ultimate underdog story. If youíre at all interested in both sides of that legendary (and legendarily brief) duel, itís clear that Goliath never got a fair shake in the telling, whether in the Old Testament or in the many subsequent versions. But now, after a mere couple of millennia, he has, thanks to Scottish cartoonist Tom Gauld. Better late than never.

Gauld, who has experience with tweaking the perspective of a Biblical tale Ė having done a four-page comic of the story of Noah as seen through the eyes of his sons Ė here posits the concept of Goliath as a mild-mannered administrator whose only distinguishing trait, and of course his ultimate undoing, is the simple fact that heís big. Perfectly content to be left alone pushing a pencil, he finds himself in the hour of the Philistinesí need drafted into a dubious and deceptive ďpatrollingĒ mission, but is too nice a guy to stand up for himself. Most of the book finds him keeping a melancholy watch along with his child retainer, waiting for what we know is his inevitable demise. Itís all really rather sad, with a vein of black humour inherent in the contrast between the gravity of the situation and the utter mundanity of the characters and their dialogue. In its understated way, it makes as powerful a statement about war and its waste as any more epic treatment could. The story is told in stylized but simple black, brown, and white images, starkly presented, with spare dialogue and no third-person narration. A sense of stillness and tension is created, investing the slightest change of scene with significance, and intensifying the readerís sympathy for the doomed (anti)hero. Formally, Gauld has taken the opposite route from the one represented by another recent much-celebrated graphic adaptation of the Old Testament: R. Crumbís The Book of Genesis Illustrated, which takes its text verbatim from the original and employs dense, detail-packed imagery. But Goliath is, in its own way, an equally distinguished book, the major work so far in the career of one of the best cartoonists working today.
In an interview conducted by email from Gauldís home in London, I ask what drew him to this well-known story. ďI had an idea to do a story about a giant,Ē he wrote. ďMainly because I thought it would be visually striking, and realized that maybe David and Goliath was a good story to look at, so I found a bible and looked it up. I knew pretty much straight away that it would be interesting to adapt. Itís a very one-sided story. We know almost nothing about Goliath. Heís mainly a list of measurements: how tall he is, how much his spear weighs. I wanted my story to happen in the gaps in the Bible story. The same things happen but they seem different from the other side.Ē

Anyone retelling a classic narrative is of course faced with the question of how to deal with the fact that the reader knows how the story ends. Did Gauld have a special strategy for that? ďNot really. I just trusted that the reader, upon seeing my Goliath, would be sufficiently intrigued about what would happen to get him into the situation heís in by the end. I hope that the reader is involved enough in my version of the narrative that the actual ending is, if not completely forgotten, at least not in the front of their mind, so when the ending does come itís hopefully still a bit of a shock.Ē

As for the bookís visual aesthetic Ė figures shown either in profile or straight-on, long shots but few close-ups, little depth of field Ė the cartoonist says itís in keeping with his general approach. ďI try and keep the artwork in my comics simple, to make it as readable as possible. I felt that taking out the perspective and keeping it to a flatter, more graphic feel would make the book feel calmer. I didnít want the readerís viewpoint to be whooshing all over the place, itís all just straight on: often more like a theatre set than a movie.Ē

Such simplicity, the kind that serves to spotlight often-complex ideas, is something Gauld has been working toward since he was a child. Raised in Glasgow in a home that nurtured art Ė his architect father regularly supplied him with paper, his teacher mother encouraged his early obsession with drawing Ė Gauldís earliest influences included Richard Scarry, Maurice Sendak, the Asterix and Tintin books, as well as the televised work of Oliver Postgate and Peter Firmin. ďThey were odd, gentle little animations which took place in surreal imagined worlds,Ē he says of those BBC series. ďMy favourite was a Viking saga called Noggin the Nog.Ē

Gauldís vocation was further cultivated thanks to the enlightened approach of British higher education. ďI know a few cartoonists who found their art school very anti-comics, but I never experienced that,Ē he says of his time at Edinburgh College of Art and the Royal College of Art (rca) in London. ďMy tutors were very encouraging of my comics. The art schools in Britain are quite relaxed. It was great to spend those years just playing around, figuring out what I wanted to do.Ē

Post-RCA Gauld teamed with fellow graduate Simone Lia to found a small publishing house, Cabanon Press (ďI really like designing the book as well as creating the content, so I really enjoyed self-publishingĒ). Since then his work has appeared in a wide variety of forms and settings, the most prominent of which has probably been his ongoing weekly cartoon in the Guardian Review, a gig Gauld clearly relishes. ďI like constraints on my work and this has lots: Iím given a theme by the newspaper, Iíve only got a day to do it, and itís quite small. Itís like a mental exercise every Tuesday, trying to come up with something new and interesting.Ē

Such spontaneity stands in sharp contrast to the process that led to Goliath. It hardly seems fair for a work that can comfortably be read in a single lunch break, but two years of intensive labour went into the new book. Put bluntly, what took so long?

ďBefore Goliath Iíd only created short narratives,Ē Gauld says. ďSo a lot of work on this book was figuring out how to tell a longer story. I began by working on vague ideas for words and pictures in my sketchbook, then I wrote out a script for the whole thing and fiddled with that quite a lot. Next I drew a rough version of the whole book, made up of quick, small, sketchy drawings, to figure out how the panels would be laid out on each page and what would be in them. Then I drew the whole book out in pencil, showed it to a few people and edited it based on their feedback. Lastly, I made the final ink drawings which you see in the book now.Ē

Given how touchy some Bible fans can be about adaptations, how thorough a grounding in the original did Gauld feel he needed to have? ďI did a bit of reading,Ē he says, ďas I didnít want to make any howling errors in my story. But not that much.Ē

Not much, maybe. But clearly enough.
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"Goliath" and "Jinchalo" in Uptown Magazine

Updated July 25, 2012


One giantís terrible day at work
British cartoonist Tom Gauld reimagines the Biblical story of David and Goliath

BY: QUENTIN MILLS-FENN
5/07/2012
A famous figure is actually a reluctant villain in Goliath (Drawn & Quarterly), a sharp, sensitive and dryly funny graphic retelling of the Bible story by British cartoonist Tom Gauld.

The book opens with the Israelites and the Philistines at war, their armies marshalled on either side of a valley. No one seems to know what the fightingís about, including Goliath, an enlisted man with the Philistines whoís not much of a fighter, though heís big; instead, heís happy doing administrative work.

Meanwhile, an ambitious captain concocts a plan to escalate the war between the two armies and needs a fierce-looking giant to carry it out. Before he knows whatís happening, Goliath is equipped with armour, spear and sword, as well as a nine-year-old shield-bearer. Heís not given much in the way of instruction, just to head to the valley and call out 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."

The drawings have lots of wry touches, like Goliathís stubbly face or the contrast between the giant and his wee shield-bearer. The artwork seems simple but conveys a lot, from Goliathís permanent stoop to the empty valley over which the two armies are fighting.

Itís a sad story, too, of course. (Spoiler: The story doesnít end well for Goliath.) Our hero is trapped by the perceptions of others. The guiltless are sometimes condemned by the powerful. And the powerful, whether an unscrupulous captain, an apathetic king or a vengeful god, can write the story to their wishes and history might be none the wiser.

ē ē ē

Jinchalo (Drawn & Quarterly) is a witty, charming, enchanting fable by Montrealís Matthew Forsythe.

Based on Korean comics and folk tales, it tells the story of a greedy little girl, Voguchi, who gleefully and thoughtlessly gobbles all the food in her familyís house. Sent to the village market to restock the pantry, she encounters Jinchalo, a shapeshifter who decides to have some fun.

Wonders occur as Voguchi starts a fabulous journey thanks to Jinchaloís mischief. Itís a story full of surprising twists and transformations, and mysterious creatures: monsters, robots ó and one cartoonist.

The book is largely wordless as Forsythe tells his story almost entirely through imagery. Voguchiís facial expressions perfectly suggest her crankiness. The drawings are beautifully detailed and thereís one page ó of Voguchi sitting on a flower surrounded by hummingbirds ó thatís truly gorgeous.
This is a story about the unexpected places that being naughty can take you.
 
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Matt Forsythe
Tom Gauld

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Goliath




  Tom Gauld talks about silence, robots, and heartbreak

Updated June 18, 2012


Small Human Ordinariness: An Interview With Tom Gauld
BY HAYLEY CAMPBELL
MAY 23, 2012
The Comics Journal

Nobody does silence like Tom Gauld. It sits heavy on his lonely lunar landscapes, dismantled robots and dilapidated moonbases; it pulls his tiny mute figures even further away from us as they wave proudly at the top of their doomed enterprises. Pages of perfectly paced silence make the few deadpan words he does use weightier, perfectly economised, no more or less than youíll ever need. It isnít just the absence of speech: Chris Ware does it too but it feels different, like the silence is in two different keys.
Gauldís atmospheric world is bleak and lonely but totally funny and full of heart. He mixes heroic events and ideas with small human ordinariness: astronauts bickering on the moon, massive epic journeys in which nothing ever happens except conversations about lunch, and most recently a biblical giant doing the Kingís bidding when heíd much rather be doing admin. His books are so human they make you like other humans. There are very few books I will give people and insist they read it on the spot, over dinner, while I sit there quietly monitoring their facial expressions. But Gauldís books ignite that kind of enthusiasm, and thereís something in them ó a sweetness, maybe ó that brings you closer to the guy on the train, the people on the street, makes you ache for more of that boring human ordinariness, our innate optimism, and all of our doomed enterprises.

In Goliath, his first long book from Drawn & Quarterly, Gauld retells the story of the biblical character who was largely missing from the original version. Most of the story happens while nothing is happening. Itís Goliath and his sword-bearer ó a small boy appointed to wait with him and carry around a pointless bit of armor ó sitting on a rock, waiting. Somehow in reading it you forget you know how the tale ends and when it does it winds you. Itís one of my favorite things to come out in years.

The following interview was done by me in my pajamas in a room in East London, and a jet-lagged Gauld on trains, planes, phones and computers during his North American tour. He was very nice about letting me bother him when he was so busy.

HAYLEY CAMPBELL: Youíve drawn more astronauts, space stations and robots that any other cartoonist I can think of. Did you always want to be a cartoonist when you grew up, or are you mourning an unreachable jet pack?

TOM GAULD: Growing up I always (except for occasional ideas Iíd be a soldier or doctor and, on one occasion, the Pope) wanted to do something creative which mainly involved drawing: an artist, an animator, a cartoonist, a model maker. Thinking back, I never wanted to be an astronaut, in fact I had very little interest in the reality of space, I was interested in science fiction. I was obsessed by the Star Wars films, toys and comics and I think these influenced the things I like to draw to this day. There is something which interests me about the gulf between our reality now and the optimistic science fiction (and speculative non-fiction) which I saw as a child: space travel, jet packs, flying cars etc. Living on the moon, for example, seems a quaintly old-fashioned idea to me now.

CAMPBELL: Arf! Seriously? The Pope? Why?

GAULD: I canít remember why, I was quite young. Heíd been on TV and I imagine I liked his popemobile. We werenít Catholics, hardly religious at all really.

CAMPBELL: In some respects I think that would make it easier to adapt a biblical story. I was dragged through Catholic school for the whole stretch and now ó even though some of the stories are the most amazing and gruesome and strange stories there are ó I just canít face them. They immediately make me feel like Iím wearing an uncomfortably scratchy uniform and shifting awkwardly in a pew while the priest drones on and on.

GAULD: Yes, I think thatís true. I donít have a religious faith, but Iím interested in the Bible because the stories are such well-known, common parts of our culture. A few years ago I did a version of the story of Noah (for Kramers Ergot 7) and I liked that I could rely on the readerís knowledge of the story, and play with their expectations. That story was one of the things which led me to do Goliath. I didnít want my book to be anti-religious, or even to paint David as a fraud or a villain, but the God (or maybe just strong religious faith) which makes David so powerful is definitely not there for Goliath.



CAMPBELL: I remember the giant being just a fleeting mention in the actual story ó hardly top billing. Is that why you picked him?

GAULD: In the Bible version heís hardly a character at all. Heís more of a list of measurements: How tall he is, how long his spear is, how much his armor weighs. If the story had been more even-handed, or given more detail and character to Goliath, I doubt Iíd have been interested in adapting it. I feel that the story was so one-sided that it almost begged for another view. One thing I realized while making the book is that we usually think of the story as ďBoy vs Giant,Ē but itís actually ďBoy and Supremely Powerful Creator of the Entire Universe vs Giant,Ē and seen like that, you canít help having a bit of sympathy for Goliath.

CAMPBELL: In this (and a lot of your work) I get the sense that youíre very aware of gaps. I mean, your whole version the Goliath myth takes place in the gap between two verses of someone elseís version. And then the most important bits of your story are happening in the gap, in the unspoken bit. It all seems to happen in the waiting, and the dialogue is so everyday and normal that the big heartbreaking bits are busily breaking your heart in the background.

GAULD: I find that I really enjoy it when an artist leaves me to make a bit of a leap from one thing to the next, rather than leading me along every step of the way. I try to do this in my stories, to leave gaps which the reader can fill in, but not so big that they feel confused. To put it another way, Billy Wilder said that in screenwriting if you ďLet the audience add up two plus two. Theyíll love you forever.Ē

I like deadpan comedy, flat dialogue, things happening offstage and inexpressive characters, thereís probably some deep psychological reason for this, but another reason goes back to not wanting to lead the reader by the nose by signposting ďTHIS IS FUNNY!Ē or ďHOW TERRIBLY SAD!Ē and allowing some of it to happen in the readerís mind.

CAMPBELL: You zoom in and focus on one tiny aspect of some great epic, like Roz Chast including the dogís flea in the family tree. In a lot of articles about you the writer is always quick to liken you to Edward Gorey, and from the cross-hatching youíre evidently a great fan, but Iíve always identified an element of Chast in there.

GAULD: I used to see Chastís cartoons in The New Yorker occasionally but it wasnít until I bought her big retrospective book Theories of Everything a few years ago that I realized how great she is. So she wasnít a major early influence but more recently sheís inspired me (particularly on the cartoons I do for The Guardian). Also we both like to do diagrams and lists and thereís some similarity in tone.







CAMPBELL: My favorite thing by you that Iíve seen recently is The Triumph of Death strip that you did for Art Review magazine (above), in which you do just that ó you take two (essentially binmen) bit-players and put them center-stage. A painting like Bruegelís is so cartoony and detailed that every time you look at it you see a new guy, a new tiny tragedy. I interviewed Anders Nilsen when he was in London, and he said you took him to the John Soane Museum to see the Hogarths. As an artist, what is it you like so much about that kind of stuff?

GAULD: Thanks, Iím glad you liked that strip. Earlier this year I went to Avantcomic, a comics conference in Madrid and I also went to see The Triumph of Death at the Prado, itís in the same room as The Garden of Earthly Delights which I love too. I looked at it for ages, thereís so much going on, such a weird atmosphere and so many stories being hinted at and I decided then that Iíd write a story about the two skeletons on the horse and cart. I went to see the Goya black paintings there too, and they are like the really bleak visions of a depressed man, whereas The Triumph of Death is dark, but itís also funny and Breugel is clearly having such fun painting all these skeletons and crazy atrocities. Itís a bit like Whereís Wally (Waldo) with skeletons.

CAMPBELL: Years ago I became kind of obsessed with Hans Holbeinís Dance of Death stuff. Itís just so nuts and cartoony with the skeletons mocking whoever theyíre dragging down by prancing around in the guyís hat or cape or whatever. Then thereís someone else trying to bribe the skeleton while he nonchalantly looks the other way, or the skeleton tipping a gallon of booze into the collapsed drunkís mouth. And thatís just the tiny illuminated alphabet. The actual Dance of Death set is even madder. Death taking an ancient old man to see a physician and then handing the guy a urine sample (presumably) as if itís some kind of challenge.

As for Bosch, Iíve never seen The Garden of Earthly Delights in real life, but theyíve got one of three known sixteenth-century copies of the central panel at the Wellcome Collection. I was staring at it just a week ago. After much thought I decided the best bit is the man sticking a bunch of flowers in the ladyís bottom.

GAULD: I didnít realize that the Wellcome had a copy of earthly delights, Iíll have to go and see it.

I love Hogarthís series such as The Rakeís Progress, partly for the lovely drawing and engraving (I prefer his prints to his paintings) and also for the stories. It takes a bit of work to read the story in The Rake but I think thatís the fun: noticing the details, comparing each plate to the next, filling in the gaps.

CAMPBELL: I prefer the prints too. Everyone seems craggier and they pull better faces. Anders said he liked how nuts the Hogarths were, with the crazy unexpected details (ďLike pigs tied to peopleís heads and stuff,Ē he said). Londonís obviously full of great old prints and drawings ó are there any others you like to show visiting cartoonists?

GAULD: I also took Anders to the prints and drawings collection at the British Museum, they have some really great shows there and even though we only had about 15 minuted before they closed we dashed round a German romantic prints show which was full of super-crosshatchy forests and things. I like the British museum generally, I started going quite often as it was opposite Gosh, so I could buy some comics, look at some old etchings (or pots or whatever) then sit in a cafe and doodle.

CAMPBELL: Now, getting back to Gorey for a bit. Sometimes your strips (particularly your older ones) are not really about much but they have an overwhelming sense of atmosphere, which is something Gorey always excelled in too. Is there anyone (in comics or otherwise) who you regard as a master of atmosphere?

GAULD: I do love the atmosphere in Goreyís work, I suppose atmosphere is a big part of his work. I must admit that much as I love Gorey and think he is an amazing genius, I do sometimes wish there was a bit more depth and heart to his work. I think that Jasonís comics have a wonderfully idiosyncratic atmosphere to them. I think his stories get better all the time, and the colours that Hubert does for him are so perfect, I think they really add a lot to the stories. Mike Mignola is great at atmosphere too, heís made a really interesting world in his comics, seemingly by just sticking together all the cool things he likes to draw. Dave Stewartís colours in that are really good too. I guess with all three of these artists I feel that all their work comes from a distinct, invented place, and I really like it when artists make up their own worlds.

CAMPBELL: I remember reading, years ago, that you were a fan of Ben Katchor and his particularly New York atmosphere in Julius Knipl, Real-Estate Photographer. Michael Chabon wrote a piece ó I read it in a collection of his essays but I think it was originally the introduction to Julius Knipl ó in which he said Katchor is ďmore Ė far more Ė than a simple archaeologist of out-moded technologies and abandoned pastimes. In fact he often plays a kind of involuted Borgesian game with the entire notion of nostalgia itself, proving that one can feel nostalgia not only for times before oneís own but, surprisingly, for things that never existed.Ē

I feel the same way about your moon stuff, or The Gigantic Robot. Thereís nothing lonelier than a space station but you go one further and do abandoned space stations or moon dwellings. A piece of yours that always stuck in my memory was actually a mistake: the Lost Robot, where you had meant to scan just the robot but ended up with the entire scanner bed thus placing the little guy on the most bleak lunar landscape. Thereís a nostalgia there ó or at least a sense of the optimism of the past that you mentioned earlier ó for a thing that never existed.



GAULD: Thatís interesting, Iíve been a fan of Katchorís work for a long time now, I wrote my MA dissertation (admittedly a short art school dissertation) about his work. I hadnít seen that connection before but now you mention it I can see it. I think you can feel, upon seeing my robots or technology (or maybe even everything I draw) that things will probably go wrong at some point.

I donít think Iím saying that life was better in the past, or now, or even in the future. My characters are often just clumsily trying to make the best of things, wherever they are.

CAMPBELL: I was down the pub with Andy Riley the other night and we got onto the subject of your Hunter & Painter. Andy was adamant that it would make a brilliant Aardman short film and I wholeheartedly agree. I know Matt Abbiss has animated your work in the past [a subtitled version exists on YouTube here]. Would you do it again?



GAULD: Iíve worked on animations for commercial jobs and it was fun to see what Matt did with Invasion, but Iíd definitely like to work on an original animation one day. When I was at college in Edinburgh, I did some animation in my first year but when I specialized I chose illustration as animation seemed too meticulous. Comics are a lot of work but animation (especially in those less digital times) was too much. Iím wary of, and also excited by, the idea of collaboration. I like that I have almost complete control of my comics but I couldnít make a film on my own, so it would have to be with the right people.

CAMPBELL: The more I learn about the process of filmmaking the more astounded I am that any good ones ever get made.

Andy would also like to know if you ever break loose and draw something huge. He is a man who has just realized that having bought his own house he can now paint cartoons on the walls if he wants to (and has done so).

GAULD: I never draw things big. Even if something needs to be big, Iíd still draw it small and scale it up. I like to draw small (my drawings are not much bigger than the finished, printed comics) as it reigns in perfectionism, and I get a bit of natural wobble and error into the drawings. One problem with digital is that you can zoom in and in forever: but with a pen, the width of the line gives a natural end.

CAMPBELL: So what are you working on now? Did you like the process of doing a longer work and would you do it again?

GAULD: Making a longer book was really hard, but in the end very rewarding. Working on Goliath there were a lot of wrong turns and failed experiments but I learned from it. Iím just starting to work on a new book which I think will be longer than Goliath and am also working on a collection of the short, weekly strips I do for the Guardian.

CAMPBELL: Can you tell us what it is yet or will we have to wait and see?

GAULD: I canít really. I have a couple of ideas at at such early stages I may scrap them and do something else. But whatever I do Iíd like it to be a bit longer than Goliath was. My next published book will be the Guardian strips collection.

CAMPBELL: Will you ever collect your Time Out strip, Move To the City? I wasnít in England when it was appearing in the magazine and I never saw it.

GAULD: I think itíll reprint one day, but not right away. I have mixed feelings about it. It was a great job to get: a paid, weekly comic strip when I was only few months out of college, but the weekly deadline, the fact that I hadnít drawn many comics before, and was really busy with other things mean that itís quite uneven. I enjoyed it, experimented with it and learned a lot from it, but Iíll wait till I have a few other things in print before I revisit it. It did come out in French from the Swiss publisher Bulb (and actually appeared as a daily strip in a Geneva newspaper) but that was because Nicolas Robel, the publisher, was very enthusiastic and talked me into it.
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The New York Times excerpts Tom Gauld's "Goliath"

Updated June 14, 2012


May 3, 2012
Gauldís ĎGoliathí
By SARA CWYNAR
New York Times

Tom Gauld, who illustrates our weekly Riff column, has just released ďGoliathĒ ó ďthe story of David and Goliath from the giantís point of view,Ē according to his Web site. The graphic novel was published by the Montreal bookshop and small press Drawn and Quarterly, and a sampling of its pages, below, demonstrates how Gauld can use simple, clever visuals to explore the larger, more complicated issues of war and heroism.
 
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  Tom Gauld's melancholy "Goliath" would rather have a desk job

Updated June 14, 2012


Graphic Scenes: March
David Berry Apr 5, 2012
The National Post

Goliath
By Tom Gauld
(Drawn & Quarterly)

The Philistinesí legendary warrior is recast as a paper-pusher of remarkable size in Tom Gauldís re-imagining of the David vs. Goliath story. Content to trade off his guard duty for more bureaucratic work and keep his head down while the respective armies threaten each other in the Valley of Elah. A scheming general with a knack for marketing has other plans, though, and soon Goliath is making the daily trek to threaten the Israelites. Gauldís sparse style captures the encroaching ennui of Goliath beautifully, as the lovable lug is pushed through forces well beyond his control into a job he never wanted. Far more than just a tweaking, Gauld infuses a parable with new meaning for a modern world, with a helping of melancholy but sweet humour to boot.
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"Macabre and terse;" Tom Gauld's "Goliath"

Updated June 14, 2012


Poor Goliath
Falling Off the Fairy-Tale Bandwagon
OLIVER KATZ ó MARCH 28, 2012
The Link
Tom Gauldís graphic novel, Goliath

Macabre and terse, cartoonist Tom Gauldís latest graphic novel is a clever, if an ultimately unsatisfying re-imagining of the tale of David and Goliath, told from the perspective of the great giant, who is neither fierce nor hungry for war.

In the world according to Gauld, Goliath is a peaceful soldier who is better suited to administration then the heat of battle. But his great size inspires his commanding officers who plan to use him to intimidate the Israelites. Innocent and unsuspecting, Goliath is pushed towards his fate, which is as sudden as it is cruel.

The sparse nature of the narrative means we are told very littleĖexactly why thereís a war, for instance, is never discussedĖand this quality echoes Goliathís own life: he is very much a boat caught in the current.

Gauld has been compared to Edward Gorey, the American illustrator known for his surreal art and black humor. Goliath certainly echoes Goreyís work: there are plenty of sly jokes here, such as when Goliath, seen as a potential suitor, is asked about the size of his ďyou know what.Ē

In any graphic novel, the artwork is half the story. Here Gauld uses his unadorned two-toned sketches as a way of echoing the simplicity of his hero. Yet his talent is such that even though his hero is little more than a few dots and some vague lines, he manages to create Goliathís bewilderment at being caught in a world he doesnít understand.

Gauldís version of events is witty and well in keeping with the current trend towards re-imagining old stories, from Shrek to the two upcoming versions of Snow White (Mirror, Mirror and Snow White and the Huntsmen) hitting theatres in the next few months. Those rewrites tend to create a new sympathy for characters other than the traditional hero.

But Gauldís story, like the art of the book itself, is just a sketch: we are given nothing about Goliathís past (or even his present life outside the war). Re-inventing Goliathís death is clever; getting us to truly sympathize with the giant is another thing entirely. The author stresses his innocence but fails to truly engage our compassion.

Goliath is published by Drawn and Quarterly, an independent publisher based in Montreal that specializes in quirky selections of graphic novels and comic books. All of its publications are available at its retail outlet on Bernard, where it also hosts plenty of showcases, readings and literary events.
 
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  Tom Gauld's "Goliath" Playlist

Updated June 14, 2012


Book Notes - Tom Gauld - "Goliath"
March 22, 2012
Largehearted Boy

In the Book Notes series, authors create and discuss a music playlist that relates in some way to their recently published book.

Previous contributors include Bret Easton Ellis, Kate Christensen, Kevin Brockmeier, George Pelecanos, Dana Spiotta, Amy Bloom, David Peace, Myla Goldberg, and many others.

Tom Gauld's graphic novel Goliath is a spare, stripped-down telling of the classic Bible story from the giant's perspective. Gauld leverages the power of comics with many captionless panels to perfectly pace this story, one that turns from a heralding tale of victory to epic tragedy when told from another point of view.

Grovel wrote of the book:

"Itís a neat, simple, beautiful book. It's not a long read, not least of all because dialogue is sparse and to the point. However, it's a masterpiece of understated complexity. Below its simple appearance is a tidal wave of thought-provoking magic. This is one of those books that will touch you as you read it, then stay with you for a long time afterwards."

Stream a Spotify playlist of these tunes. If you don't have Spotify yet, sign up for the free service.


In his own words, here is Tom Gauld's Book Notes music playlist for his graphic novel, Goliath:


My graphic novel Goliath doesn't have any music in it, in fact it has quite a lot of silence. If it did have a soundtrack maybe it would have some wind noise with occasional odd guitar squawks and bonks by Neil Young or Tom Waits. But I did listen to a lot of music and radio while I was drawing it:


1. "Howís it Gonna End" by Tom Waits

Tom Waits has been an inspiration to me, I love that he sticks to his obsessions and themes but he doesn't repeat himself. He pushes his work forward without losing what's great about it. This song has so many great scenes described in it. It's like a notebook full of ideas for an amazing lost black and white film.


2. "Waste of Time" by Peter Blegvad

I first got to know Peter Blegvad through his brilliant comic-strip Leviathan. I liked that so much I hunted around for other things by him and found his music, which is funny (funny strange and funny haha), clever and lovely. I know quite a few cartoonists who are also musicians so maybe there's some connection. Although I haven't got a musical bone in my body.


3. BBC radio dramatisations of "Lord Peter Wimsey" stories by Dorothy L Sayers

My drawing style involves quite a lot of cross-hatching which takes a long time but doesn't require a great deal of brain-work so it's the perfect time to listen to stories. The Lord Peter stories are like a cross between Agatha Christie and P.G. Wodehouse and they kept me amused while I was drawing the opener to Goliath: a nine page night scene which seemed to take forever to shade.


4 and 5. "Horseleg Swastikas" and "The Farmer's Motel" by The Silver Jews

I love the Silver Jews' music so much that I am choosing two of their songs. What appeals to me most about them is probably David Berman's lyrics. I'm more comfortable making pictures than writing words so I tend to keep the words in my work very understated and simple. These lyrics are understated and simple but are also brilliantly clear, darkly funny, smart and sad.


6. "In Our Time" podcasts from the BBC

Another thing I listen to while I'm drawing, in this radio show Melvyn Bragg gets three experts on a subject in to the studio then corrals them into explaining it to the layman. Every week it's a different thing and I like the feeling that I'm learning something while I'm working. I wouldn't be surprised if my next idea for a book came from an episode of this.


7. "I'm Waiting For The Man" by The Velvet Underground

I not too impressed by virtuoso showing-off in art (long solos in music, flashy drawings in comics etc) and a perfect, simple song like this shows you don't need it.


8. "Jarvis Cockerís Sunday Service" (Radio show, BBC 6music)

Most new music I've got into over that past couple of years has come through this show. Jarvis Cocker puts together a really eclectic selection of records but also includes interesting bits about all sorts of art. Listening to it makes me want to get on and create more things.


9. "Motion Pictures" by Neil Young

There's an atmosphere about this song that I love but can't quite put my finger on. There's a feeling of failure, but also acceptance and a slight possibility of things turning out ok on the end. I'm drawn (in my work and other people's), to failure and tragedy but I don't want it to be completely bleak, there has to be humour and hope in there too. Though having said that the ending of Goliath is quite sad.


10. "Give Paris One More Chance" by Jonathan Richman

In contrast to what I just said about sad art, this is what I put on if I want to be cheered up. His work is like the musical equivalent of an uplifting self help book (in a good way).

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Tom Gauld's "Goliath" celebrates the little guy

Updated June 14, 2012


Point of View Points to a New Story
Wednesday, March 14th, 2012

School Library Journal

Itís Wednesday again already, and you know what that means! Here is graphic novel guest blogger Francisca Goldsmith with another gem:

The Biblical story of David and Goliath rings familiar to many, at least as metaphor giving birth to aspects of contemporary life. Even as the Occupy Movement has inculcated in many mediaóand Main Streetómessages that being part of the 99% of ďlittle guysĒ holds moral superiority over belonging to the 1% of wealthy who are therefore ďbig,Ē earlier generations have valued the Little Engine Who Could, the little pigs up against the big wolf, etc. Cheering for the underdog comes easily to a lot of readers, and David, who is depicted as a mere boy up against a great hulking Philistine, is the likely hero.

Gauldís eloquently simple narrative, therefore, offers us a story that is wholly new, in spite of its relatively close tracking of the boy-meets-giant battle. This is Goliathís story. Yes, heís huge and apparently hairy, but heís a guy who likes his administrative work and doesnít like patrol duty, let alone going into battle. And yes, he gets killed by little David.

Itís a combination of Gauldís pacingóincluding the pacing of the panels in which he lets Goliathís final days unfurlóand the tidy choice of conceptually modern terms the cast employs. Goliath gets to find out what the King of the Philistines has in mind for him only once he is handed a scroll and told to read it loud and strong for the hearing of the Enemy. Wait, Goliath thinks/says, whatís this about slaying me in particular?

At under a hundred pages, and taking as its source a story that is either known or easy enough to tell in a paragraph, this change of viewpoint is easy to compare and contrast with what we already ďknow.Ē Gauld reminds his readers that what we see isnít the only viewpoint. And he does it with humor and good will, attributes that rarely come in the same thought-breath as the original version.

GAULD, Tom. Goliath. 96p. Drawn & Quarterly. 2012. Tr $19.95. ISBN 978-1-77046-065-2. LC number unavailable.

Adult/High SchoolĖGauld, who frequently draws for The New Yorker and The Guardian, brings his simple but evocative style to a retelling of the Biblical story from the giantís point of view. In this version, the Philistine army is a bureaucratic organization and Goliath is a content administrator, a gentle soul with no love of bear fighting or boasting. In simple line cartoons, burnished with an era-appropriate bronze, readers accompany him to a mystifying meeting with the king and watch his befuddlement as he is provided with a nine-year-old shield bearer and a large but rather haphazardly built coat of armor. Then there is the 40 daysí wait in the desert for an answer from the enemy to the challenge Goliath reads aloud daily. And, in the end, poor GoliathĖas readersí sympathies have come to lie with him not as opposed to the Israelites but as opposed to his fellow PhilistinesĖis killed. Gauldís panels offer wonderful portraits of Goliathís final six weeks or so of life, including the unchanging rock piles in the desert and the brightness of the moon against a black sky. Quick to read but easy to consider and reconsider, the humor and pathos in Goliathís worldview requires longer thought than reading time. An eminently discussable graphic novel.ĖFrancisca Goldsmith, Infopeople Project, CA
 
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  A religious perspective on Tom Gauld's "Goliath"

Updated June 13, 2012


New graphic novel illustrates a more vulnerable Goliath

Houston Chronicle
By Menachem Wecker
Published 04:40 p.m., Thursday, March 8, 2012

For the most part, Goliath has been immortalized in art either as a disembodied head or on the verge of being decapitated. Caravaggio's Goliath is a severed head in David's hand; in Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel fresco, David is about to chop off Goliath's head. Rembrandt's illustration of Menasseh ben Israel's Piedra Gloriosa, on the other hand, shows David about to sling the stone at Goliath.

In a more modern interpretation of Goliath, the Philistine giant is depicted in Yehuda Hyman's play "David in Shadow and Light" as a punk rocker with a mohawk haircut, a lot of spikes and tight leather pants. The punk Goliath actually makes a bit of sense, in light of the biblical Goliath's trash talking in 1 Samuel, chapter 17.

Beyond that verse, the Bible doesn't reveal a lot about Goliath. What motivated him? What was his childhood like? Was he taunted as a child for being so big?

The brilliance of "Guardian" cartoonist Tom Gauld's new graphic novel, "Goliath" (Drawn & Quarterly; $19.95), is the artistic license it takes with the story of David and Goliath. Instead of being a punk rocker or a scary-looking man, Gauld's Goliath is a gentle giant, more pacifist than aggressor. He's also the fifth-worst swordsman in his platoon.

Chapter 17 of 1 Samuel goes to great lengths to distance readers from Goliath, who is so enormous that regular-size people couldn't dream of considering him even the same species. Gauld undoes all of that by creating a more sympathetic Goliath, who's a bit of a coward, or at least a lazy daydreamer. David, by extension, emerges as a villain.

Gauld's book is more than just a reversal of the traditional roles. It's also a sophisticated work of art with surprising complexities.

The line drawings could hardly be simpler, but Gauld neither dresses Goliath and his contemporaries in so-called biblical garb nor modern attire. In fact, the book mostly seems to be set in a wilderness, which makes Goliath's tale even more introspective and foreboding.

Some of Gauld's panels present portraits of rocks or other natural elements, which further suggests that his book is as much a psychological portrait of the setting of the story of David and Goliath as it is a depiction of the two soldiers.

It's hard to imagine a more effective way to explore the possibility that Goliath, rather than being supernatural, was the victim of an unfortunate environment.
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"Goliath" and "Jinchalo" highlighted among March comics

Updated June 13, 2012


Graphic Novels & Art-Comics - March
By Noel Murray March 5, 2012
The AV Club

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, itís a fuller piece than anything heís produced before: a recounting of the Biblical tale of David and Goliath from the point of view of the giant, whoís a reluctant draftee into a war heíd 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, thereís an actual story here, not just one beautifully drawn joke.
And the story has points to make, too: about how perception creates reality, as Goliathís mere presence intimidates the Israelites, and also about how even an armyís 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 Gauldís 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 itís landing right between the heroís eyes.
...Matthew Forsytheís 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 ďinspired by Korean comics and folk tales,Ē but itís not necessary to know that going in, since this book isnít strictly an exercise in homage. Itís 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 bothÖ
 
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  "Goliath" author Tom Gauld chooses his favorite books

Updated June 13, 2012


Bookshelf: Tom Gauld

It's Nice That
Bryony Quinn, Sunday 04 March 2012

This weekís contributor to our Bookshelf feature hardly needs this introduction so letís everyone just be reminded how good Tom Gauld is. We talked to the illustrator and comics artist about his latest game-upper book Goliath a short while back and now, what with it being launched this week and the artist touring about and signing copies, what better reason is there to gain an insight into his own book-shaped favourites?

I Killed Adolph Hitler Jason
Jason is a Norwegian cartoonist who makes really funny, dry, smart comic books. This story starts off like itís going to be a trashy adventure with cartoon animals, time travelling and Nazis but then sort of loses interest in all that becomes a much sweeter, sadder tale about getting old. Visually it reminds me a bit of Hergeís Tintin books, and the clear drawings, beautiful colouring and simple layouts make it a joy to read. I was influenced by the accessibility of Jasonís work when I was making my book Goliath.
www.amazon.co.uk/i-killed-adolf-hitler
www.fantagraphics.com/i-killed-adolf-hitler

The Stanley Kubrick Archives Alison Castle
I love Kubrickís films and this beautiful book is full of photos, notes and ephemera relating to all his projects. Heís well-known for being a perfectionist but itís still stunning looking at all the preparation, research and work which goes into making the worlds he shows in the films. I particularly like the on-set photos where you see a perfect realisation of the inside of a spaceship or a scene from Napoleonic wars and then standing there is Stanley Kubrick with an anorak and a cup of coffee looking serious.
www.amazon.co.uk/the-stanley-kubrick-archives
www.taschen.com/pages/the-stanley-kubrick-archives

The Vinegar Works Edward Gorey
I first discovered Edward Gorey when I came across some of his books in the library while I was studying at Edinburgh College of Art and they blew me away. Theyíre such unusual, unclassifiable books: dark, strange, funny, intriguing and beautifully drawn and designed. Gorey has influenced me a lot. This is a set of three of his early works in a beautiful slipcase. I donít usually hunt out first editions or expensive books but I couldnít help myself with these. The stories also appear in his first collection Amphigorey.
www.goreyana.blogspot.comvinegar-works
www.amazon.co.uk/amphigorey-fifteen-stories-edward-gorey

Strega Nonna Tomie de Paola
I got this book for my children because I liked the cover. Itís a retelling of the Grimmís folk tale The Magic Porridge Pot, but set in Italy and with a pasta pot. The story is charming and pleasant to read aloud (very important for a childrenís book: I must have read it outlaid fifty times) but itís really the images which I like. The town and the people who live in it are drawn very simply, but itís all so clear and lively that I really feel like Iíve been there and wandered around watching them.
www.wikipedia.org/strega-nona

The Inheritors William Golding
I read Lord of the Flies at school and thought it was brilliant. This was the follow up and its about a family of neanderthals who meet humans for the first time. Itís all seen through the eyes of the neanderthals and the way Golding shows the world as they see it is incredible. You have to think quite a lot while you read, but the world heís imagined is so powerful and real that it really rewards you. Iíve read it a few times and I still think when I re-read it next Iíll get more from it.
www.amazon.co.uk/the-inheritors
www.wikipedia.org/the-inheritors
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Tom Gauld brings the story of David and Goliath to life

Updated June 13, 2012


When Goliath met David

Creative Review
Mark Sinclair, 2 March 2012

In Tom Gauld's new story, the Biblical tale of David and Goliath is retold from the giant's point of view, making for the comic book artist's most accomplished and moving work to date...
At nearly 100 pages, Goliath is Gauld's most extensive graphic narrative yet and his first for a major comics publisher. Self-publishing for the best part of a decade, his commercial illustration projects have seen him contributing regular strips to The New York Times and The Guardian, but in signing up with Drawn & Quarterly he is welcomed into an esteemed comic book stable.
Readers familiar with his drawing style will recognise the cross-hatched characters and landscapes in Goliath, and the existential theme that has framed much of his work from Guardians of the Kingdom in 2001, to the Hunter and Painter series of 2007.In a Gauld comic, 'action' isn't necessarily high on the agenda; instead there is often a fair bit of waiting around, even some well-crafted silence Ė life, even life within a Bible story, always has a lot more mundanity to it than the superhero comics let us believe. And there's always a bit of admin to do, too, as in Goliath of Gath's case.
This version of the story is concerned with the foreground to Goliath's famous meeting with the slingshot-wielding David Ė and in the lead-up to that event there is plenty for Gauld to play with.Goliath is depicted as a bit of a pacifist but he seems to acknowledge the irony of being in the army. While he doesn't like bear baiting ("It's not really my thing"), he can still appreciate the feel of a decent suit of armour ("It does feel rather good, actually"). Gauld is a great draughtsman, but what also marks his work stand out is his keen ear for dialogue and tone of voice, and how this is paced within the narrative.One detail I particularly liked is the way that Goliath is occasionally drawn with his head just out of the panel: he's too tall and cumbersome to fit into the comic. Indeed, as in his earlier work, Gauld often infers things are happening beyond the confines of his frames Ė he isn't afraid of using white space or text-free passages, either, and employs both to powerful affect. On the left hand page, below, the boy's proud but silent fascination with his dagger in the second-to-last panel is one of many brilliantly observed moments.And the progress of the approaching old man, shown below, draws a scene out agonisingly over two pages:In Goliath, Gauld renders his obsessions with various aspects of daily life which we can all relate to: the middle management of the army captain serving his superior; the fantastically personal questions of the boy shield-bearer; and Goliath's put-upon reluctance to be part of the army's puffed up, gung-ho spiel.
As a character, Gauld's Goliath gets our sympathy from the outset and his story is beautifully brought to life by one of the UK's best. A win for the giant.
Goliath is published by Drawn & Quarterly; £14.99. Gauld is set to appear at a selection of bookshops in the UK where he will be signing copies of the book (see the events poster on his site, here). There is also a launch next Friday at Gosh! in London where Gauld has also created a Goliath window graphic for the shop and also designed a special limited edition bookplate for the book, which can be pre-ordered here.
Finally, Gosh! also has a good interview with Gauld who talks about how he made the new book and his move to D&Q. Talking of the David and Goliath story, Gauld says there are "big gaps" in the narrative so "my story could take place in those big gaps". The film was made by Tom Crowley.
 
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  Tom Gauld's Goliath named a Must-Read

Updated June 13, 2012


10 New Must-Reads for March
by Emily Temple

Flavorwire.com

Feb 29, 2012

Goliath, Tom Gauld (February 28)

We know, we know, weíre cheating a little: this came out in February. But it just barely came out in February, and we loved it so much that we thought weíd do everyone a favor and include it here. This is essentially a graphic short story ó a re-imagining of the David and Goliath myth, where Goliath is a peaceful, reticent soldier whoíd really rather be doing admin work up at the camp, not down in some valley shouting out challenges. Gauldís stripped-down drawings, all boulders and blank faces, are perfect for his bittersweet tale, and the book itself is a lovely addition to any shelf.
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A mile in his shoes: Tom Gauld's "Goliath"

Updated June 13, 2012


Goliath by Tom Gauld
Paul Montgomery
May 11, 2012

Western proverb: Walk a mile in another manís shoes, something something, and empathy shall accompany any fungus.

With his latest graphic novel, Tom Gauld invites us to slip into the thongs of a giant. A figure of both physical and historic stature, the Goliath of Judaeo-Christian tradition has come to represent both impossible odds and the hubris furnished through their favor. In context, he was a warrior made legend by virtue of his imposing height and insatiable ferocity. Thatís context, now. To readers immemorial however, the hulking Philistineís never been iconic for any meteoric rise, but for his ironic fall. Weíre talking about a mythically proportioned killer bested by a poor boy and his slingshot. The lad Davidís Biblical tussle with Goliath remains the quintessential underdog story, a template for countless tall tales, big fish stories and Stallone flicks. Goliath had everything going for him, save one pivotal stat. Depending on your level of piety, that linchpin was either divine patronage or the character Davidís dramatic need for an impressive victory. No matter how you slice it, big guy was destined for defeat. Or, as Gauld posits in this comic sendup, he was the biggest fall guy to ever lose his head.

If the notion of positioning a scriptural scourge as a victim of circumstance registers as offensive, I canít help you. Maybe itís that Iíve rarely considered David & Goliath in the same light as other Biblical chapters. Speaking as a former altar boy and lapsed Catholic, itís not even filed in the same neurological cluster as Saulís ride to Damascus or even Moses in the basket. Itís over there with Hercules and Achilles and, frankly, Jake ďThe SnakeĒ Roberts. But even if you do grant a solemn space in your skull, a kind of sacred sinus, to this bout, Gauldís Goliath is the most sensitive act of irreverence in the realm of dogmatic revision. Itís inevitable that someone might conjure up some outrage for this, but thereís something so profoundly chaste about this mellow little fable. Drawn & Quarterly even bound it in a hopelessly immaculate hardcover volume of ivory linen. You donít hold it. You cradle it. After scrubbing your hands like a surgeon readying to handle a heart. Or a white MacBook.

So, ya know. Itís all reverently irreverent.

Itís a touching portrait of a Goliath whoíd rather busy himself with paperwork and ďadminĒ duties than slay any Israelites. Heís just a hairy brown grape balanced on a hairy brown triangle like everyone else in his outfit. Itís just that his hairy grape head sits a little higher in the crosshatched night sky. Rendered as they are, each character appears as a kind of chessman. The supporting cast of enterprising Philistines capitalize on Goliathís intimidating size, prodding him into that storied duel like a bearded pawn.

As rudimentary as the character models are, itís not difficult to develop sympathy for Gauldís Goliath, who reads as a kind of Bob Newhart in the Book of Job. Often blank-faced with specks for eyes, the initial impression is of a guileless victim. But those eyebrows arch quite a bit as our hero is ordered into his new role as a champion reaver with falsified credentials. Heís annoyed at his new station. Itís vital that Goliath is hapless and not necessarily hopeless. This is no oaf. This is a dreamer, taciturn and stoic, but a dreamer all the same. When the pebble does find its mark, itís far from a moment of triumph. Itís fateful. Itís frustrating. Itís smart, too. Itís smart that David isnít so much a re-imagined villain here as heís simply another pawn swept up in the fog of war. In a way, heís just the messenger. The pebble, that cruel little chunk of cosmic fortune, is the real antagonist here.

In this version of the story, we recall that history has a role for everyone, even in our own time. Often, we donít have the chance to select our own monologue. Weíre just handed sides and ushered into the spotlight for however long it will have us. Itís not so much that we have a shortage of time. Itís that we never had time at all. Time has us, and it has designs on how we might be defined by later generations for better or worse. Goliath gets a raw deal as both villain and hero. But at least, at last, he gets a chance to be a hero.

Walk a mile in a giantís sandals and youíll never approach his stride, but youíre bound to better appreciate the steps he has taken. The weight he carries. The impressions he leaves behind.
 
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  Guy Delisle & Tom Gauld at BD & Comics Passion

Updated May 10, 2012


Guy Delisle and Tom Gauld will be at BD & Comics Passion 2012 in London at the end of May! Buy tickets online now! Full schedule here.

FRIDAY MAY 25TH

Guy Delisle & Tom Gauld: A Drawing Duo
6:30pm-7:15pm / £8, conc. £6

Book Signing: Guy Delisle & Tom Gauld
7:30pm-9pm

SATURDAY MAY 26TH

Guy Delisle: ďFrom Shenzhen to JerusalemĒ
5pm-6pm / £8, conc. £6

Book Signing: Guy Delisle & Tom Gauld
6pm-7pm

Drawing Jam with Mesparrow: Tom Gauld
9pm-10pm / £8, conc. £6
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Jerusalem: Chronicles from the Holy City




Boing Boing praises Tom Gauld's "stunning" GOLIATH

Updated February 28, 2012


Gweek 041: Podcast

By Mark Frauenfelder
BoingBoing
Feb. 27, 2012

Gweek is a weekly podcast where the editors and friends of Boing Boing talk about comic books, science fiction and fantasy, video games, board games, tools, gadgets, apps, and other neat stuff.

My co-hosts on episode 41 are Dean Putney, Boing Boing’s coding and development wizard, and Michael Pusateri, a lifelong tinkerer and former television tech executive for Disney. Visit his blog, cruftbox.com.

Below is a list of the things we talked about in Gweek episode 40. (Sure, you could just click on the links below to learn about them without listening to the podcast, but then you will miss out on our discussion about whether or not Tarzan shrank in Tarzan and the Ant Men or not.)

[...]

Mark also recommended the stunning new graphic novel by Tom Gauld, Goliath, the biblical tale told from the giant's perspective.
 
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  Tom Gauld's GOLIATH "well-planned, humorous, and poignant": Comic Attack

Updated February 28, 2012



Comics Are My Religion: Tom Gauld’s Goliath (Review)

By
Jeff Jackson
Comic Attack
Feb. 26, 2012

Welcome to Comics Are My Religion, a look at theology through the lens of comic books. There are some basic ground rules about engaging in respectful dialog about religion in this column. There be spoilers ahead, so beware!

Judas Iscariot. King Nebuchadnezzar. Pharaoh. Jezebel. The Serpent. These are among some of the wickedest villains in the entire Christian Bible. But one villain literally stands head and shoulders above them all.

Goliath.

The gigantic Philistine warrior has been depicted in many ways over the years, most of which have him towering over the young boy David. He is usually rugged and burly, with sword and spear in hand, ready to take down any challenge that comes his way. The story of the epic battle between Goliath and David has been the epitome of the underdog‚Äôs tale, and has been recreated across all types of media. Even the name ‚ÄúGoliath‚ÄĚ has now become synonymous with a hulking, huge giant.

We all know the story, even if you haven‚Äôt read the Bible. In the first book of Samuel, we are introduced to the young boy David who is chosen to be king of Israel, even though Saul is already king. The Israelites are at war with the Philistines, and in order to prove his faith in God and his own bravery, David goes out to fight the mighty Goliath, who stands out and daily beckons the Israelites to send a warrior out for him to fight. We all know what happens in the end, as Goliath ends up ‚Äúlosing his head.‚ÄĚ

But what if we looked at this story from Goliath’s point-of-view? In an earlier Comics Are My Religion, I covered A. David Lewis’ The Lone and Level Sands, which took the Pharaoh’s perspective of the Exodus story, so you know I am a sucker for a different take on a classic story.

Tom Gauld gives us a humorous and poignant look at the story through the big man’s eyes in his Goliath hardcover, which came out in comic shops on February 22, 2012 from Drawn and Quarterly Books.

Gauld’s Goliath is no hulking warrior. Sure, he’s tall and he has a beard, but he prefers administrative work rather than fighting. Goliath is peaceful and rather innocent, and is loyal to a fault. It’s this loyalty to his king that gets him sent to the front lines as a psychological attack against the Israelites, whom we never really see. In a rather funny turn of events, Goliath calls out the Israelites day and night with a script in his hands, and is nowhere near the frightful soldier that 1 Samuel depicts. In fact, it makes the end of the story that much sadder when this sympathetic Goliath meets the diminutive David out of the mist.

Gauld makes a lot of choices in his telling of this story, but never really contradicts the original tale, and that shows Gauld’s creativity. The only piece of the 1 Samuel story that he omits is Goliath’s taunting of David just before their battle. Anyone could tell a story about Goliath’s side of the story, but to stay true to the original text, and yet make this classic villain a sympathetic character is impressive. There are few characters in the story at all, and many of the panels have Goliath and his shield-bearer, another young boy who mirrors the character of David, standing and talking amidst a barren and desolate background. There is a loneliness to Goliath and his story, which makes the reader want to grab him up and save him from his impending doom. Because of the reversal of Goliath’s character, the approach to this story is completely different and original.

The tone of the book felt like one of those independent short films where the characters are crudely drawn, the pace feels slow and dry, but the message is poignant. Gauld’s art is rudimentary, with his figures looking like children’s drawings. However, the simplicity with which Gauld draws this book does not relate to the techniques of storytelling that he uses from page to page. Many say that less is more, and with Gauld’s art that is truly the case. There is an innocence to his pencils, but cast with the brown palette of the book, there is a somberness that draws the reader. Such a child-like style is not usually up my alley, but paired with Gauld’s knowledge of how to tell a visual story, I find myself captivated.

The book is not without a dry, quiet sense of humor. The Philistines pass the time by pitting bears against lions, dogs, and even people. One soldier casually asks Goliath if he wants a shot at the bear, which is done really well. Another funny moment happens when Goliath is fitted with armor, but pieces continually fall off the armor as he makes his way to his ‚Äústation.‚ÄĚ

Goliath shows us once again that a story is all about point-of-view. What if Goliath had been put up to his task? What if he was chosen to frighten the Israelites because of his size, but was really a nice guy underneath all that armor and weapons? Gauld pushes these questions, and in fact, in the few pages that David shows up, he looks more like a religious zealot than the innocent boy who follows the call of the Lord. In reading the Hebrew Scriptures, it can be easy to assume that God is always on the side of the Israelites, God‚Äôs chosen people. But reading books like these makes you sympathize with these biblical ‚Äúvillains‚ÄĚ and make you wonder if the violence was worth it at all.

I applaud Gauld for asking the question, and presenting a well-planned, humorous, and poignant book. Goliath is an example of what good storytelling can do, even with stories we’ve heard hundreds of times. Gauld shows us that even villains can be good guys.


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The Houston Chronicle: Tom Gauld's GOLIATH "brilliant...A sophicated work of art"

Updated February 28, 2012


New graphic novel illustrates a more vulnerable Goliath

By Menachem Wecker
The Houston Chronicle: Chron.com
Feb. 2012

Goliath by Tom Gauld

For the most part, Goliath has been immortalized in art either as a disembodied head or on the verge of being decapitated. Caravaggio’s Goliath is a severed head in David’s hand, while in Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel fresco, David is about to chop off Goliath’s head. Rembrandt’s illustration of Menasseh ben Israel’s Piedra Gloriosa, on the other hand, shows David about to sling the stone at Goliath.

In a more modern interpretation of Goliath, the Philistine giant is depicted in Yehuda Hyman’s play David in Shadow and Light as a punk rocker, with a Mohawk, a lot of spikes, and tight leather pants. The punk Goliath actually makes a bit of sense, in light of the biblical Goliath’s trash talking of the Jewish armies in 1 Samuel 17.

But beyond that verse, the bible doesn‚Äôt reveal a lot about Goliath the man‚Äďor giant. What motivated him? What was his childhood like? Was he taunted himself in grade school for being so big? What did he find so enjoyable about bullying soldiers much smaller than his own size?

The brilliance of Guardian cartoonist Tom Gauld‚Äės new graphic novel, Goliath, is the artistic license it takes with the story of David and Goliath. Instead of being a punk rocker or a particularly scary looking man‚Äďas Goliath has invariably been portrayed throughout the ages‚ÄďGauld‚Äôs Goliath is a gentle giant, who is more pacifist than aggressor. He‚Äôs also the fifth worst swordsman in his platoon.

Chapter 17 of 1 Samuel goes to great lengths to distance readers from Goliath, who is so enormous that regular-sized people couldn’t dream of considering him even the same species. Gauld undoes all of that by creating a Goliath with whom readers can sympathize. Not only is Gauld’s Goliath not Other, but he’s even a bit of a coward, or at least a lazy daydreamer. David, by extension, emerges as a villain.

Gauld‚Äôs book is more than just a reversal of the traditional roles of David and Goliath though. It‚Äôs also a sophisticated work of art with surprising complexities. In the beginning, Goliath plays with a stone, which foreshadows the slingshot David will slay him with at the end of the story. A bear which makes an appearance in the book refers to David‚Äôs statement to Saul in the bible that he can handle Goliath just as he defended his father‚Äôs flock from a lion and bear. And Gauld differentiates between the text he has invented and the biblical text by assigning different typefaces to the two‚Äďserif for biblical verses, and sans serif for Gauld‚Äôs additions.

The line drawings could hardly be simpler, but Gauld neither dresses Goliath and his contemporaries in so-called biblical garb nor modern attire. In fact, the book mostly seems to be set in a wilderness, which makes Goliath’s tale even more introspective and foreboding.

The closest artistic kin to Goliath might be David Lean’s 1962 film Lawrence of Arabia. Just as the film allows scenes to take their time to develop, Gauld crops many of his drawings strategically to allow the narrative to develop in a manner that is consistent with the slow pace and loneliness of the desert.

Some of Gauld‚Äôs panels present portraits of rocks or other natural elements, which further suggests that his book is as much a psychological portrait of the setting of the story of David and Goliath as it is a depiction of the two soldiers. It‚Äôs hard to imagine a more effective way to explore the possibility that Goliath‚Äďrather than being supernatural‚Äďwas the victim of an unfortunate environment.
 
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  Comics Reporter praises GOLIATH

Updated February 28, 2012


This Isn't A Library: Notable Releases To The Comics Direct Market

By Tom Spurgeon
The Comics Reporter
Feb.22, 2012

I liked Tom Gauld's new, longer work enough to interview him about it and it's a handsome book now that I have it in my hands.
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"David's triumph, Goliath's tragedy": Interview with Tom Gauld

Updated February 28, 2012


CR Sunday Interview: Tom Gauld

By Tom Spurgeon
The Comics Reporter
Jan. 22, 2012

I've been a big fan of the cartoonist Tom Gauld for several years now, devouring the bits and pieces of the Scottish-born artist's comics and illustration work that makes it to our shores and snapping up any and all publications in which that work appears. Gauld makes comics in a lot of the minor-key ways, many of which were also utilized by influence Edward Gorey: an almost textural feel to individual images, startling contrasts in terms of size of figures and narrative elements, a casual reduction of visual keys into a more rudimentary drawing style, incremental changes in design elements from panel to panel. I got in the habit of reading Tom Gauld whether he was appearing in an oversized, lavish book from an outfit like Buenaventura Press or on the backs of postcards I want to keep but have to share.

Gauld's latest is Goliath, a full-length book project from Drawn and Quarterly that in ways he describes below has been in the works for over seven years. It's his longest narrative to date, and distinguishes itself for the smart execution of what in other hands could be an overly-clever, high-concept exercise: the story of David and Goliath told from the perspective of Goliath. Gauld uses several design elements to fine effect here, but the heart of the book can be found in the lonely landscape he depicts and the lonelier main figure he places in its midst. I think it's an accessible work, too, the kind you pass on. I hope that by interviewing Tom Gauld several of you might consider the book when it comes out in a few weeks, and that some of you in an ordering capacity might take an extra look. -- Tom Spurgeon

*****

TOM SPURGEON: One thing that intrigues me about your comics-reading past is that you claim to have been a British comics-only kind of kid. How do you think you're a different artist for having that specific reading experience? Do you still value anything you learned from reading Battle and 2000 AD?

TOM GAULD: It's true that I never got into mainstream American comics as a kid, but I did read Asterix and Tintin a lot. Our local paper started running The Far Side and I loved that and [Gary] Larson inspired me a great deal.

But to answer your question, I think maybe the science fiction and black humour of 2000 AD fed into my work.
Probably more importantly Battle led me into reading 2000 AD which led me into reading Deadline which got me interested in alternative comics generally.

SPURGEON: You've said that you discovered you could actually do comics and cartoons for a living while in art school; do you remember how you figured that out, and what the effect of suddenly having that possibility open up for you was like?

GAULD: Before I went to art school (Edinburgh College of Art) I thought I'd have to do something like graphic design to earn a living, but when I got there I tried the illustration course (in the first year you did a bit of everything) and realised if I did that I could just draw all the time. That really appealed to me, there were/are aspects of design, painting and making things that I liked but it was drawing that I really loved. At Edinburgh I was mainly doing illustrations but towards the end I started making more narrative work then sort of ran out of time to do what I wanted, so I applied to study for two more years at The Royal College of Art in London. That's when I really got into making comics, the course was really open and I had lots of time to do my own thing, my tutors and fellow students were really encouraging. I also met Simone Lia there and we made our first comic (called First).

SPURGEON: How much do your comics reflect things that you learned in art school? What are some things you think you might do differently for having what sounds like some extensive training?

GAULD: Both the art schools I was at were very relaxed, there were sometimes briefs to work to and drawing classes but most of the time we were left to do what interested us. I spent a lot of time doodling, in the library and going to the cinema. Without all that time I might well not have started drawing comics at all. I'm very into the design of my books and I think that interest comes from my time at art school.

image

SPURGEON: You're obviously influenced by Edward Gorey, but your work lacks his camp sensibility; in fact, I think the influence is mostly felt visually. Can you talk about how you discovered Edward Gorey, why his work is important to you? He's such a massive influence on cartoonists but he's also one of those guys like B. Kliban that's not all the way seen as a comics maker.

GAULD: I discovered Gorey's work in the college library when I was at Edinburgh and I was immediately fascinated by it. I think it was the atmosphere in particular which attracted me, the idea of opening these little books and going into his imagined, self-contained worlds. I like the design of his books, you've started going into his world as soon as you see the cover. The restrained drawings, deadpan/black humour and mock seriousness all appeal to me too.

For a while at college I was just copying Gorey, but then as I made more work I did more my own thing, though I still crosshatch like he did.

I didn't know B. Kliban till you mentioned him here. I've just been looking at his work which is great, thanks for that!

SPURGEON: [laughs] You're welcome.

There's a tension in your work between atmospherics and foregrounded action. You have a very filmic sense of atmosphere, and mood; the worlds you create are very palpably yours; at the same time, a lot of your work, especially the early stuff, is very reminiscent of theater in the way you craft dialogue and you focus on interactions between your characters. Is it fair for me to say that you're interested in both of these elements? How much is the feel of a work important to you?

GAULD: Yes, I'd agree with that. I find that when I'm drawing I'm quite happy to come up with larger than life, epic things but when I write things tend to be more down to earth. The contrast between greatness and everyday reality is something which interests me.

Atmosphere is very important to me. None of my comics are set in the real world and I want the reader to feel they are somewhere else.

image

SPURGEON: How natural was it for you to do your clean-up and color on computer? I think of you as being just about the age where that would come absolutely naturally. Is there a part of comics making you'd never consider taking to the computer?

GAULD: I learned how to use photoshop mainly because I wanted to print comics while I was at college and you had to pay for photocopies whereas the laser printer was free. As I got more into it I realized it was the perfect way for me to do color. Partly because I'm not very good with color so I can fiddle around till I get something I like and as I'm a bit colorblind I can check the CMYK values and be sure the colors are what I think they are. Also I do like the clean, flat coloring you get with a computer.

These days I scan in and fiddle around with my pencil drawings in photoshop quite a lot to get them how I want them before I print them out and trace them on a lightbox in ink. So a computer is used quite a lot in my process, but I can't see myself stopping doing pencils and inks by hand for a while. But I'd never say never, if the technology seemed right I'd at least try it.

SPURGEON: How much does having published your own work, even on a limited scale, have an effect on how you approach publishers? For example, are you harder on publishers for the option of doing something yourself, or are you easier on them because you need how rough a big that might be? What does a successful publishing relationship entail in order to satisfy you?

GAULD: I hope that having self-published makes me more realistic about what a publisher can do for me, and hopefully a bit easier to deal with. With self-publishing I love working on the design and production but I have very little interest in sales and distribution, so for me a good publisher gets me involved in the former and takes care of the latter. Drawn and Quarterly and previously Buenaventura were both very much "tell us how you want it and we'll try to do that."

SPURGEON: When you're involved with a publisher like that, how deep does that involvement go? Where would your influence be most directly felt? Book size, paper stock, the overall look, how you're doing color and shading? How important are these production to the final book for you? Given complete control, how much would you manage those elements of a work?

GAULD: I'm interested in all those elements. Initially I intended Goliath to be black and white but as I worked on it I realised it needed something more and asked D&Q if it was ok to use a second colour which they were fine about.

I'm not sure how the other artists at D&Q work, but I had clear ideas about all the elements of the book design and they seemed happy to go with those and offer some good suggestions on improvements.

imageSPURGEON: Tell me more about working with Alvin [Buenaventura] and Buenaventura Press. Hunter and Painter seemed to be an extension of some of the work you had been doing -- these kind of comic dialogues held across some sort of abstracted space -- but The Giant Robot seemed more an expression of maybe your printmaking side. Is that a fair assessment? What was the thinking behind the series of static images that make up Giant Robot, the idea of a comic whose transitions emphasize time over space? It's something that pops up in your work quite a bit. Was there a particular kind of project you thought BP did well?

GAULD: The idea came from a cartoon I did for the Guardian and I thought it would make a funny/sad narrative to see this thing -- initially a sculpture but then I changed it to a robot -- which was grand and full of potential to just fall away to nothing.

I like repeating images with small changes to tell the story, and this took that to an extreme. I suppose this was more about the idea and the drawings than a narrative.

I think Buenaventura were good at making that sort of slightly odd thing which is still in the world of comics, but a bit art book-ish, too.

SPURGEON: Let me jump back a bit. The Move To The City strip -- your drawing seems less refined there, in a sense, but the page layouts and the structure of the story seems more complex than some of your earliest work. Was that an important work in terms of you trying out new things? What do you remember about doing that work now?

GAULD: Move to the City appeared weekly in Timeout London for about a year (2001-2002 ish). I'd just finished college and went to see them with my portfolio, they really liked Guardians of the Kingdom and asked if I could turn it into a weekly strip. It was great getting a weekly paying job at that time. The idea was very simple and I tried to play around with layouts and different ideas within that as much as I could. Looking back at it there are some parts which make me wince, but it was a good learning experience.

SPURGEON: How did your current gig with the Guardian settle into the recurring space in the Saturday Review letters section? My understanding is you went from irregular cartoons to these more regular ones. Those are essentially gag strips; how do the gags develop in terms of the writing of them? Are they positively received? I'm trying to figure out if that would be the kind of audience amenable to having a cartoon on that general subject or an audience hostile to how you treat the general subject matters involved.

GAULD: The art director at The Guardian Review is Roger Browning, who is a great guy. He hired me to do occasional illustrations and cartoons straight out of college then when the cartoon spot on the letters page opened up he asked me to do that. I'ver been doing it for six years and it's been a really good experience. I've learned a lot from it, for example from having a tight turnaround and having to keep to such a small space.

On Tueday afternoons I get sent the lead letter for the page and I have to take that as my theme then I sit and doodle in my sketchbook 'til I come up with something. I try to look at the theme -- almost always something to do with the arts -- from an unusual angle, or juxtapose unexpected things. Then I have most of Wednesday to draw it up.

It's interesting being forced to come up with something for a deadline like that: some weeks I might have to go with what I think is a mediocre idea but then sometimes -- though not always -- when I've finished I look at it and realize it was actually good idea.

The reception to the cartoon has been really nice. I think everyone realizes that most of the time I'm making fun of things that I love too, and even when I might be more critical it's quite gentle teasing.

image

SPURGEON: Did Goliath come out of a desire to do a longer, more involved piece? I see some hints in past interviews that you maybe wanted to try something of greater length at some point. Did the idea develop before, after or independently of the idea of doing a book with D+Q?

GAULD: I've been wanting to do a longer piece for quite a while, but since I spend most of my time working as an illustrator and squeeze comics in around that, it was hard to find the time to concentrate on one. In 2005, I wrote to D+Q and asked if they'd publish a book if I wrote one and they said yes so I signed a contract to do a book. I thought that if I agreed to do one for a publisher it would spur me on to get it done but things kept getting in the way: I had two children just after that, I was busy with illustration work and I was also quite daunted by the prospect of making a longer comic and couldn't settle on an idea. In the end I didn't properly start work on Goliath till 2009.

SPURGEON: For that matter, how did you end up working with Drawn and Quarterly? Their focus seems to be in a slightly different place than a lot of your works have been over the years. There also seem to be any number of publishers for art comics and graphic novels in Great Britain now. Was there something about their catalog that had a specific appeal? Something they did well? Do you feel an artistic kinship with the other cartoonists on their publishing slate?

GAULD: I went to D&Q because I love their books, they seemed good with stories and design. The stuff they were publishing by Sammy Harkham, Kevin Huizenga and Anders Nilsen felt like work which mine would fit in with, in some way or other.I'm speaking in the past tense as I made the decision to go to them seven years ago, but I'd make the same choice today.

As for British publishers there are some great publishers around now, it feels like a real boom, which is fantastic, but either they weren't around or I didn't know about most of them till the last few years.

SPURGEON: Goliath is one of those iconic characters, but he's may not be the most iconic even of his type in the Bible -- that would probably be Samson. Why Goliath? The twist you provide the character is strong and fairly straight-forward, but I'm interested in what struck you about the character or his situation that you wanted to work with him at all.

GAULD: I wanted to make a story about a giant, I started a story about a giant being hidden away by his family to avoid being called up by the army then abandoned it. Then I made a story for Kramers Ergot Vol. 7 about Noah and got thinking about other Bible stories I could work with.

When I read the Goliath story in the Bible I realized how little it said about him: basically just a description of his height, weapons and armour, his challenge and a short dialogue with David. So there was space for me to make my story in. I liked the idea that David's triumph is Goliath's tragedy.

SPURGEON: I love the kid foil for Goliath, but he's not a full partner the way that some of your characters have been in past works. Was there something you hoped to draw out of the story for having that particular character serve as a kind of witness for what's going on?

GAULD: I wanted all the elements in the Bible version of Goliath to be in my version too, but the fact that he had a shield-bearer was a problem at first. I wanted Goliath to become isolated and lonely in the valley, but if he had a colleague that wouldn't really happen, and having two equals stuck out there felt like something I'd done before. When I figured out that the shield-bearer could be a little boy it solved that problem and he seemed to work well in the rest of the story. I'm not sure exactly why, but he just felt right.

SPURGEON: You've satirized war before, and its theatrical aspects and the cynicism behind some of the ploys -- this work seems to be more directly tragic in terms of our getting to know this one particular character and your not maintaining a satirist's distance but portraying his kind of settling into this strange role. Were you happy with this work as a character study?

GAULD: I wanted to push my work on a bit with Goliath, but still keep to the things which interest me. I think its inevitable that in a longer piece, where we -- me and the reader -- are spending more time with a character, that things work out differently than in a short piece. Yes, I'm pretty happy with it.

SPURGEON: I wanted to ask you about two artistic elements of Goliath, just get your general thoughts on how you worked them into the story. Why did you change the lettering on things like Goliath's declaration and with David?

GAULD: I use the serif lettering whenever the text is quoted from the bible. It's intended to be a bit of an ominous reminder of where he's inevitably headed. When Goliath speaks his declaration for the first time it's in that style to suggest that it's not natural to him, that he's being manipulated into the role by what he's been forced to read out, as time goes on and he settles into the role he starts just saying it like anything else.

At the end when David appears talking in King James Bible quotes in serif I wanted it to feel like he's not there just as a person, he's an unstoppable force of nature, or God. Or as if he's part of a bigger story which has overpowered Goliath's story.

image

SPURGEON: The use of shading and darker panels; how much of that was a design consideration, just how it looked on the page, and how much of that was used by you to convey specific changes in mood?

GAULD: It was initially a design decision, but once I had it I tried to use it to convey atmosphere.

SPURGEON: Moving forward, how much ambition do you have in terms of the longer narrative side of your artistic output? Will we see more books. And when will we get that big Tom Gauld collection?

GAULD: I'm working on some shorter things right at the moment, but I'd like to do another long narrative. I feel I took quite a few wrong turns before settling on how to do Goliath, so I hope from what I've learned I can make another one without taking so long.

I'm definitely going to put together a collection of shorter pieces at some point; I'll keep you posted.


* Goliath, Tom Gauld, Drawn and Quarterly, hardcover, 96 pages, 9781770460652, 2012, $19.95.

 
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  The Independent praises GOLIATH's "gentle giant"

Updated February 28, 2012


Between The Covers: David and Goliath, The Omnivore website and the Apostrophe Protection Society

Jan. 13, 2012
The Independent

Satan, as we know, has had all the best tunes and much of the best literature since Milton's Paradise Lost (1666). Now, the imprint Drawn & Quarterly is to publish, in the form of a graphic novel by the acclaimed cartoonist Tom Gauld, the story of David and Goliath as seen from Goliath's side of the Valley of Elah. "Far from being the towering, bloodthirsty killer we remember," I'm told, "this Goliath is a gentle giant, who has been unwillingly conscripted into the army, and would rather be doing paperwork than fighting." Gauld's work has appeared in The New Yorker, The Believer, The Guardian, The New York Times and Granta, and he illustrated the children's book The Iron Man by Ted Hughes. Goliath will be published in March, at £14.99.
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GOLIATH on Creative Review

Updated January 12, 2012


October 31, 2011
Mark Sinclair

Comic book artist Tom Gauld is set to release a new book next year through Drawn & Quarterly. The Montreal-based publishers recently put some preview pages from the forthcoming Goliath up on their site...
There are two other pages from the book up on the Drawn & Quarterly blog, and on receipt of Gauld's recent email newsletter, we wanted to share two of them here on the blog. (The joke on one of the other pages is well worth the visit to D&Q's site.)
As the title implies, the story is Gauld's take on the famous tale of little guy with slingshot taking on apparently forbidding huge guy Ė but this time told from the battle-shy giant's perspective.
Goliath is available to pre-order in the UK from Amazon here. More of Gauld's work at tomgauld.com.
 
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  Tom Gauld interviewed on the Graphic Eye

Updated January 11, 2012


December, 2011
Gavin Lees

A version of Super Mario Bros. featuring the Bronte sisters; rocks that speak Finnish; a tragedy at sea, told entirely in signal flags ó all outpourings from the mind of British illustrator and cartoonist, Tom Gauld. Comprised of tiny, matchstick-like figures, his work is deceptively simple on the surface, as behind it lies some wickedly inventive humour or thought-provoking commentary on the nature of art. In addition to his weekly cartoons for The Guardian newspaper, Gauld has contributed comics and illustrations to several high-profile anthologies and gallery shows. He is about to release his first full-length graphic novel with Drawn & Quarterly in February.

In between his busy schedule and tight deadlines, Tom managed to find some time to chat to me over email about the new book and his work in general.

-- Gavin Lees

The main reason I wanted to talk to you was about your forthcoming book, Goliath. Could you tell us a little bit about it?

The comic tells the story of David and Goliath from Goliath's point of view. I had wanted to write a comic about a giant for a while but never got very far, but then I wrote a story for Sammy Harkham's Kramers Ergot 7 which took the story of Noah and retold it from the point of view from two of his sons. I was happy with the way that turned out and was thinking about doing something with another Bible story when I realised that the David and Golaith story could work well for this. In both of these I enjoyed playing around with a well-known story. I didn't change any of the details in either, but tried to weave my narrative around what was already there. (Actually I did change the conversation between David and Goliath a bit, but not in a way that changes the meaning.)

The David and Goliath story tells us very little about Goliath so I could make up an unexpected background for him, and spend quite a lot of time with him, before he meets David and gets killed. It was good having a very clear ending to the story to write towards.

Again, you are concerning yourself with something ďbigĒ ó you mentioned the Noahís Ark story, then your last book was The Gigantic Robot, and your artwork frequently features humans being dwarfed by structures and machinery. Is that a conscious decision? Where does this preoccupation come from?

I'm definitely interested in the visual contrast between big things and small things, and the narrative contrast between grand, heroic ideas, and small human ordinariness. I'm not quite sure where this comes from.

There are definitely things in common between Goliath and The Gigantic Robot: Goliath took quite a long time to make and part of the way through I had the idea for the Gigantic Robot. I was a bit stuck with Goliath so I thought I'd pause and do the Gigantic Robot (which was going to be a tiny 16 page mini-comic) but it grew as I worked on it and became a bigger thing which took a lot longer than I expected.

Why did you decide to make it fully-formed book, as opposed to a mini?

Well it just sort of happened. First I realised that it would work better if in each spread the text was on one page and the image on the other (in the first draft it was below the image on the same page) so that made the book 32 pages rather than 16. Then I thought it'd be good if, like the robot, the pages were quite big. Then, Alvin (Buenaventura, the publisher) and I thought why not go a bit crazy and make it into a chunky board book. I like that the production suited the grand, slightly silly bigness of the robot himself.

Is it easy for you, living in Britain, to work with North American publishers? How closely did you work with Drawn & Quarterly on Goliath?

It's been great working with D&Q, I'm really excited to be in there with so many great artists. As for the distance, I'd have liked to be able to pop by and see them in person occasionally, but it's generally been fine. I wanted to give them the chance to guide me on Goliath if they felt it was going wrong, so I drew all the pencils first and sent them to D&Q (actually I showed the first pencil draft to two friends, reworked it based around their comments, then sent it to D&Q,) they just said "great, carry on" so I did. Towards the end we worked together on the book design, colour and copy-editing/grammar but they always wanted to help me do what I wanted to do.

I first contacted D&Q five years ago about doing a book and then, there seemed very few options for British Comic publishers. But in those 5 years we've got Nobrow, Blank Slate, Landfill Editions, Self Made Hero and probably others I'm forgetting. It's very exciting.

It seems that a lot of your work ó from Hunter and Painter, to your illustrations for The Guardian ó also explores the nature of art. Do you think that comics, which seem to straddle the high- and low-brow, are a good vehicle for criticism?

My work for the Guardian appears in the arts review section so that's the main reason for their focus on the arts, but you're right, it is something I'm interested in. I think because I am an artist, I understand the world of an artist (more than the world of a lawyer or farmer) so itís easier to find interesting things to say about it. Going back to the idea of contrasts, I think there's a fascinating (and funny) contrast between the near-perfection a work of art can achieve, and the messy imperfection everyday-ness of its creation and of the artistís real life.

I think because comics can have a lightness about them they are a good way of looking at, criticising and making fun of anything, but High Art and it's occasional over-seriousness is a good topic to have fun with.

You strike me as a very literate cartoonist, given that you use literature as a touchstone for a lot of your humour. What makes this such a rich area to draw comedy from?

I read quite a lot, so naturally I get ideas related to what I'm reading, but also it's useful to have an established world into which I can introduce unexpected (and therefore funny) things or events. For example in a Guardian cartoon I might put Facebook into a Jane Austen world, or mix up Beckett and Tintin.

Do you have particular favourites that you like to bring into your work? Is it ever difficult to poke fun at writers you enjoy? I notice you use the Victorians and Romantics quite a lot.

I like it when Dickens pops in there as I like his work, but you can have fun playing with his world because its so recognisable.

I think it's easier to make fun of things I enjoy, it's gentle teasing rather than satire. I used my extensive Tom Waits experience to make this strip which sort of makes fun of him, but with love:


I'm more often playing off a general idea of a type of literature than the detailed reality of it. Quite often the strips I do in the Guardian are based on some general knowledge and a quick look at Wikipedia, rather than a close knowledge of the actual work. I made a Jane Austen-esque strip which also featured Facebook, but I have never read any Austen or used Facebook so it involved some googling to get the details.

Another aspect to writers like Dickens and Austenó heck, even Tom Waits ó is that they often worked in the Gothic mode, dealing with the awe-inspiring nature of things bigger than ourselves ó a tradition you seem to be following. Would you agree with that? Do you think comics can be part of a literary tradition?

Yes, I'm definitely interested in that: both genuinely and in making fun of it.

I suppose certain comics fit into certain literary traditions, though I'm a bit wary of pushing that idea too much. I think sometimes there can be a feeling that the best comics are those which are most similar to literature or visual art (of the gallery sort) whereas I think comics are best when they are good comics.

I notice that in your sketchbooks youíll often riff on a topic ó like the Bronte sisters, or pigs ó over a whole page, then eventually weíll see some of those ideas appear in your illustrations, fully formed. I was wondering if you could talk a little about your process of producing your Guardian illustrations ó how much lead time youíll have, how much art direction youíre given, and so on.

I've been working for the Guardian since about 2002, not long after I left college. Roger Browning the art director of the Review hired me to do a spot illustration; I've worked regularly for him since, and in 2005 took over the illustration on the letters page every Saturday. I am sent the "lead" letter (always about something in the world of the arts, most commonly books) and my image has to relate to that, quite quickly I realised that it was more successful when I made a cartoon commenting on the letter rather than an illustration accompanying the letter. I have a feeling that most people don't read the letters so I try and make something that stands up on its own but hopefully encourages the reader to look at the letter, and maybe even come back to the cartoon afterwards and see something more there.

I'm very lucky as this weekly job is one of my favourite things to do. The turnaround is quite tight: I get the letter on Tuesday afternoon and have to send the finished artwork on Wednesday afternoon. The sketchbook pages you mention are how I think of my ideas for this: just after I get the letter I leave the studio and go to a cafe where I suit and doodle until I have a good idea (or until the cafe closes), then I spend Wednesday morning drawing up the cartoon. The reason I go out is partly that I think a change of scene helps my ideas, but also that being away from my desk, computer and all the means of making a finished cartoon I'm not tempted to rush into making a finished idea: I might get a good idea but then keep doodling and think of something better or more unexpected.

As for art direction I'm given none at all, I don't even have to send a rough, which is brilliant. It's great that Roger trusts me to deliver something entertaining and I think it really frees me up to do better things.

All your work that Iíve seen has been rendered in pen with completely uniform line-weight, even for heavy shading. Is there a reason that you choose this medium? Would you ever consider moving to brushes, or even digital?

I use a uni-ball pen as I really like the uniform flat line it gives, I don't want my lines to be exciting and expressive, I want them to be attractive, but quite understated and deadpan. I think this suits my themes and the types of ideas I have. I play around with other media but have (so far anyway) always come back to this style. I feel that the crosshatching adds a certain human warmth without which the images might be a bit stark and typographic.

As for digital, I use the computer a lot at the start of a drawing (I scan in my pencil drawings and manipulate them a lot before printing them out to trace in ink on a lightbox) and at the end (cleaning up and colouring in Photoshop) but in the middle I still like to make an old fashioned ink (and whiteout) on paper drawing. I find it easier to feel how the image is working when it's there in front of me and not behind a screen. Having said that I'm not completely settled on my technique and try out little tweaks here and there, and I couldn't say 100% that I'd never get into making fully digital work one day.

Were there any strong artistic influences in your style? I see elements of Chris Ware and Ivan Brunetti, but I know theyíre not quite as popular in Britain.

I'm definitely influenced by those two, and also Jason and Edward Gorey. I also like William Heath Robinson, Jochen Gerner and Mat Brinkman.

I think the visuals in Goliath are influenced a bit by the books I've been reading to my children, particularly Strega Nona by Tomie de Paola.

I know youíre from Scotland originally. Does that background inform your work at all?

I'm not sure that the nation defines me, but I did grow up in quite isolated countryside (near Aberdeen) and I think the landscape, (bad) weather and quietness had an effect on me.

Is Scottish literature something that had an effect on you? To me, a lot of our best writers are concerned with art and the creative process, and also have a similarly dry, deadpan sense of humour.

I can see that, I think there's a specific sense of humour. I can't think of that many Scottish writers who I read, I like Alasdair Gray a lot though. And I was a big fan of 2000 A.D. in my teens which I think, in those days anyway, had quite a lot of Scottish artists and writers.

You mentioned that Goliath took a long time to create. Was that a result of your creative process being quite painstaking?

In part, and another minor reason was that I was busy having a family and doing commercial illustration work. The main reason though, was confidence: I haven't written anything as long as this and I found it hard, and I was putting pressure to do something really good for D&Q, so I took a long time to figure out what to do, then even when I got going I would lose faith in it and put it aside to do other things (things which gave more short term satisfaction). I'm happy with it now, but I definitely made heavy weather of it along the way.

Aside from your newspaper illustrations, are you working on anything new at the moment?

I'm finishing up a short sci-fi comic story and have a couple of shorts to make for anthologies but I haven't got a next project really. I've got various ideas but nothing definite. I think I may try to write something with a happy ending.
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Featured artist

Tom Gauld

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Goliath




TOM GAULD interview with The Rumpus

Updated January 2, 2012


October 20, 2011
Melissa Tan

Tom Gauld is an illustrator, cartoonist, and publisher. His finished pieces range from animated advertisements to book illustrations, as well as the weekly comic strips he produces for the Guardian. Whether heís drawing a campaign for one of the UKís largest drug stores or illustrating a book of monsters, Tomís drawing style is intimate and concise, reflective of an artistic process that uses technology without relying on it. As a publisher, he and Simone Lia run Cabanon Press. Tom has released his work through Cabanon with aptly titled collections like First, Second, and Three. The Rumpus harnessed the power of the internet to talk to Tom across the ocean about art, publishing, the balance between commissions and passion projects, and his upcoming book, Goliath, which will be out next year from Drawn and Quarterly.

Rumpus: Your work has a very hand drawn look to it, with a lot of hand lettering and depth defined by hatching. What kind of artistic processes leads to your finished work? How much are digital tools a part of your finished pieces?

Tom: I definitely like giving a hand-made feel to my work. Quite often the images are very simple and graphic, but hopefully the human feeling of the drawing keeps it from being cold or clinical: I want some warmth in there. I do use the computer quite a lot. I use it to lay out and tweak my pencil drawings but then I print them out and trace off an ink version which I draw and crosshatch completely by hand before scanning back into the computer and, if necessary, adding colour in photoshop.

Rumpus: How would you say that exposure to your fatherís work as an architect at a young age informs your career as an artist?

Tom: Iím sure it had an effect. At the simplest level I think having paper and pens and someone who liked drawing around helped (he worked from home when I was a boy). Perhaps some of the clarity and precision of plans has influenced me too.

Rumpus: In some of your work, like your strips for the Guardian, the art is much simpler and language plays a greater role in storytelling. What other tools do you use as an artist to tell a story, whether itís format or content?

Tom: Format, words and pictures all work together to make a good comic. I started at college doing pure illustration and only gradually got into making stories and using words. Iím still more comfortable with pictures than words: Iím happy doodling away on drawings for hours, but putting words together is always more of a struggle. I usually like to keep things as simple as I can so itís interesting seeing what I can remove and still keep the story: you donít want to say something in words which is better said in the pictures (and vice versa).

Rumpus: How do you feel about the variety of formats available to artists these days for storytelling? Do you have any favorites between comic books, graphic novels, magazine illustrations, picture books, or illustrations as wall art?

Tom: I really enjoy the simplicity and restrictions of the small cartoons I do every week for the Guardian. I like that there is this space which every week I have to figure out how to use to entertain people. Actually I like making all the types of things you mention above, I like the variety.

Rumpus: Which illustrators or cartoonists do you think have had a great influence on your work?

Tom: I think maybe the biggest influences were the cartoonists I discovered while I was at college: Edward Gorey, Chris Ware, Dan Clowes and Mat Brinkman. It was definitely seeing their publications that made me want to make comics.

Rumpus: How does publishing your own work with Simone Lia as Cabanon Press change what youíre able to work on compared to more traditional artist/publisher relationships?

Tom: Simone and I made our first comic (called ĎFirstí) about 10 years ago we self-published for two reasons: we didnít know of any UK publishers who did that sort of thing and we were at college where they had all the facilities, help and encouragement to do it ourselves. Now it seems there are lots of interesting small publishers in the UK.

Iíve always wanted to make publications where the experience begins as soon as you pick up the thing, where the design of the object is part of the story, and self-publishing means you can design it however you want. I like the feeling that if I get the urge I can put together a self-published thing in a few weeks, but I also like working on bigger, longer projects like my graphic novel ďGoliathĒ which will be out next year from Drawn and Quarterly.

Rumpus: How do you find balance between illustration jobs and your own storytelling? Would you rather focus full-time on your own work, or is there something to be gained by maintaining a buffer of other illustration around developing projects?

Tom: I like doing both. I think Iíd be a bit lost without ANY illustration work but I wouldnít like to be doing nothing else. Having said that Iíd like to push the balance a bit more towards my own comics and stories.



Rumpus: How does technology factor into your work? Do you find it more of a valuable resource or terrible distraction? Do you see a time when your work will be presented digitally beyond keeping a portfolio online?

Tom: The internet, and wikipedia in particular, is amazing for the sort of not particularly deep research I often need to do for my work. I love looking around at all the interesting things other people are doing, but that does often lead into idle time-wasting. I like how instant and easy it is to put work out on the internet, but I still love print comics. I donít think the intimacy of holding a paper comic in your hand has been replicated digitally, maybe kindles and ipads are taking things in that direction, but I donít think weíre there yet.
 
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Featured artist

Tom Gauld

          




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