Originally published back in 2001, those nice people at Drawn & Quarterly have reissued The Golem’s Mighty Swing as if they feel it’s one of those books that maybe didn’t get a fair crack of the whip (or maybe that should be swing of the bat?) first time around and you get the sense they are hoping for the graphic novel equivalent of John Williams’ word of mouth bestseller Stoner. They might be in for a bit of disappointment, at least on this side of the pond.
What we have here is the story of a slightly down on their heels Jewish baseball team, touring the country, kicking up the provincial dust in the hope of scaring up enough money to get them to the next town. They have to put up with a fair amount of anti-Semitism (and those portions of the book are by far the most interesting) but they also play a fair amount of baseball too – and if you have no understanding of the game, it may be that you will struggle to follow the games they play. We certainly did. But that is not the heart of the book. Approached by a skinny Marketing sort, they dip their toe in the water of dressing up one of their players as the legendary Golem. Ah you might think, that’s certainly interesting enough to warrant a graphic novel. Except you may blink and if you do you’d miss the whole Golem schtick.
For us, The Golem’s Mighty Swing takes a fair old time to get where it’s going and when it does it hardly seems worth the wait. There are attractions to the book (Sturm isn’t a million miles away from Guy Delisle in his style and the book recalled to this reader Box Brown’s superior Andre the Giant graphic novel) but it certainly doesn’t feel like a lost treasure that warrants unearthing.
Any Cop?: The charms of The Golem’s Mighty Swing were a little lost on us…