Gargantua"They made his cradle out of an old wooden galleon. And he kicked the bottom out of that."
The infant Gargantua makes a brief appearance in issue 3: ‘Standing on the Shoulders of Giants’. It’s almost a case of blink and you’d miss him – except, of course, that it’s hard to miss a baby several hundred feet high. The encounter was Leo’s idea and it occurs almost off-stage (like the run-in a few days later with a certain warrior saint) because at this point in the story we’re still in January. The green comet is a faint spark in the sky and many people are finding there’s a touch of dreamlike deniability to the fantastic things they’re seeing.
Gargantua is a giant of medieval Gallic legend from the Alsace region. When he was born, his father took one look at him and gasped, ‘Que grand tu as!’ (= ‘how huge you are’) which gave him his name.
He was a burly baby with (so Rabelais tells us) ‘about ten chins’. His pram was a cart pulled by oxen and he pulled the turf off the village green to use as a comforter. When he was teething, he cried so loud that the weather-vane spun off the church and windows broke in all the neighbouring villages.
In later life he fought for his country. During the siege of Vede Castle he was shot by dozens of cannon balls, but they only lodged in his hair and made him itch. He thought they were lice and brushed them out using a comb made of elephants’ tusks.
At one time, Gargantua came in hungry from a battle and fell on his food so ravenously that he accidentally ate five or six people who were at the dinner table with him. He only noticed they were missing when he finished cramming the food into his mouth. To make matters worse, they were pilgrims. To atone for his sins, Gargantua built an abbey overnight with blocks of stone from the gorges near Strasbourg, where he used to find building blocks to play with as an infant.