Giant Days is a brilliant, weird, funny comic about three girls living together at Sheffield University in the UK. Created by John Allison and drawn by talents including Lissa Treiman, Max Sarin and Whitney Cogar, the series has been going strong for several years now, and has amassed a rightfully devoted fanbase.

As it’s set in England, though, and because Allison has such strong instincts as a writer, there are a lot of jokes and references which might fly over the head of the international audience. Howay for Shelfdust, then, as we pledge to annotate every issue of the series in turn! Get ready for a world of adventure and learning!

By Steve Morris with Clark Burscough

Page 1

Daisy’s appreciation for wood pigeons, revealed last issue, returns here. Not being as keen on birds as she is, I’m unsure if Gordon is the same pigeon she had a brief medical daydream conversation with, or a different bird entirely, but let’s say he’s the same one just for the fun of it.

Speaking of both pigeons and spaghetti bolognese, as Daisy is here, I found a recipe for spaghetti with wood pigeon ragù on Jamie Oliver’s website if anybody is interested.

One especially worrying detail on this page is that there’s an open window on the ground floor. Look: I appreciate the need for a cooling breeze as much as anyone, but you can’t be putting your life in danger like this! Anyone might slither in through that entryway!

Page 2

As evidenced by the white labcoats and possibly stolen stethoscope, the girls have been off to a medical student mixer – Susan being a medical student, and Esther being able to sneak into these events from sheer confidence alone. Medical students are the hardest parties on any campus, and their capacity for alcohol is unmatched. It must be all that exposure to chlorine that gives them some kind of increased immunity to alcohols.

“Dance Away” was a hit for Roxy Music in 1979, and gets quoted by Esther as she leans back against a tree. Fronted by Bryan Ferry, the band were famous for blending art and cultural references into new wave-inspired pop songs and electronica.

Page 3

You might think that it’s strange to play Reggae in the bedroom, but it was bloody well bloody common at my bloody university.

Daisy’s hair makes a tiny “foomf!” when she takes off her headband. Aww.

Page 4

As hinted at the end of the last issue, several boys have created a website called “BantServe”, which rates different girls at university and lists them for hotness. Before Facebook became the blandly terrifying website it is today, it was known as “Facemash”, with creator Mark Zuckerburg setting up a simply structured game of “hot or not” using yearbook photos of everybody else on his campus. Bantserve comes from a similar place, although seems to be mixed with other current websites like The Chive or Lad Bible.

Jag-bag is an American insult, surprisingly, most popularly in the Midwest. Urban Dictionary has a few different suggestions for where the word came from, none of which I’m going to repeat here.

Page 5

If you’re looking to get some heavy traffic across to your website, setting up a load of lists is a great way to go. For one thing, everybody can work up a mild interest in seeing who might possibly make it to the top spot, and the format of a list means you can get people to read your content in digestible chunks.

I suppose this annotation is technically a list.

Page 6

Ed’s understanding of computers seems to rely heavily on what happened in The Matrix.

Page 7

Esther decides to take the high road and go complain formally to the Vice-Chancellor. This marks her out as a first-year student, because everybody knows that the Vice-Chancellor is a made-up position and you’ll never find anybody with that title however hard you look around campus. Seriously, there are like five tiers of highly-paid university management who simply don’t ever seem to exist anywhere.

As this is a situation she wants to be taken seriously, Esther has put on her most formal outfit – her old school uniform, as currently also worn by the young cast of Bad Machinery. Blue jacket, red tie, smart combination. Colour psychology supports the red tie, but it may be undermined by the blue suit – unless the Vice-Chancellor is colour blind? Psychology is complicated.

Page 8

It is frankly miraculous that she was able to find the Vice-Chancellor of Sheffield University actually in his office, and not swanning around drinking away the extremely high university fees which got him his job.

Classic dean behaviour, if you ask us.

Page 9

Bants and banter have taken over the UK, especially now that all the “lads mags” have been shut down and cancelled. You might think that sounds silly, but we have a TV Channel over here which is literally called “Dave” and specialises in offering the most laddy banter it can buy in from the BBC’s lavish archives.

“much pageviews, very ads” is a reference to a meme – as shunned by Susan earlier – called Doge. This is that practice where people post photos of dogs looking shocked and then type broken English over the top, suggesting its the dog’s internal narration. In 2013, doge became so famous and powerful that some idiot tried to create a cryptocurrency called “dogecoin” which hopefully bankrupted him.

Page 10

Has there ever been a university room which didn’t feature a Scarface poster?

As soon as the boys realise they’re onto something, they try to monetise it, which is how the internet works now. There’s no money available, so everybody’s scrambling to get whatever money they can by any means necessary. They mention listicles, which is the term people use to complain about websites which run lists.

Someone alert Denis Norden! The boys switch sofa halfway through this scene!

Page 11

The pledge drive video for Bantserve comes with a video – this is probably reminiscent of Patreon or Kickstarter, two crowdfunding websites which try to persuade you that the best way to get attention is with a promo video where you talk directly to your possible patrons. We didn’t do that for The MNT, mainly because it’s completely cringe and barely 20% of people with a crowdfunding video have managed to pull it off professionally. It usually helps if you involve your cute pets in some way.

Page 12

Esther is essentially being threatened with doxxing – the reveal of your personal information online, so anybody can track you down and contact you. It’s cruel, and Susan’s observation that these men think “women are genetically identical to Kleenex” is ruthlessly effective in explaining why it happens.

Her comment about Henry VIII is a reference to a particularly sulky divorce. The Catholic Church wouldn’t let him divorce his first wife, so Henry got in a strop, created his OWN church, and converted to that religion instead. Handily, his new creation “The Church of England” were totally onboard with divorces, so on he went to wife no #2.

Is it weird that we’re taught the incredibly flippant rhyme “divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded survived” as kids to remember the fates of Henry VIII’s wives? Yes. Yes it is.

Page 13

With cities pushing further out into the countryside each year, animals have had to adapt to urban environments at an increasing rate. For example there are currently estimated to be 33,000 urban foxes in the country, wandering around, stealing from bins, and making those heartstoppingly horrifying screech noises.

Page 14

“Spackling” is the art of filling in a hole or crack in your wall. McGraw’s interest in listening to men slowly explain the technique is somewhat similar to Daisy’s interest in ASMR, if you ask me.

White knighting refers to men who consistently say they want men and women to have equal rights – but at the first sign that women are being harassed, they try to intervene on their behalf and act the hero. It’s more recently been used to describe men who are doing this specifically in the quiet hope they will be ‘rewarded’ by the woman being harassed.

Page 15 and 16

I’m a bit surprised I couldn’t recognise any of the people at the zine fair, because for-sure you would’ve thought that they’d use that as a chance to sneak in a cameo for Meredith Gran or another one of John Allison’s contemporaries. Perhaps they’re Lissa Tremain’s pals? Let us know if you recognise anyone!

Susan’s wearing a “Quit Yer Mansplaining” shirt on it, featuring an annoyed elephant. You can find it to buy online here. I couldn’t find out who the original artist is, so I hope this listing was created by them and pays them for each purchase – if not, please write in to let us know where the credit should go.

Page 17

The attendance at this lecture is reflective of my experience during my third year at university. It is important that you ensure you have a will in place, however, folks – make sure you get on that once you’ve finished enjoying these annotations!

Page 18

Susan’s technique for stopping the trolls is the same technique famously used by video game reviewer Alanah Pearce. As a women writing about computer games, Pearce was consistently sent threats, abuse, and slurs by waves of almost-anonymous internet trolls. On Facebook, however, that cloak of anonymity doesn’t exist, and so she could head to the page of the boys who were sending her misogynistic threats – and more helpfully, she could then find out who their mums were, and forward those same messages across to them.

Page 19

J-Horror is the name for Japanese horror films, which have been increasingly sought-after by western audiences. South Korean horror films, though – those are the ones which last with you. They’re less interested in violence and more interest in making the protagonists suffer.

Pages 20 and 21

Daisy decides to give the bird a gender non-specific name, which is such a smart character moment for her. HOWEVER:

Unless you’ve definitely seen the parents be killed, it’s probably best to leave baby birds in the nest. When in doubt, consult the R.S.P.C.A. or R.S.P.B.

Page 22

Daisy’s new “friend” has two piercings in the same ear! And a blue dye streak in her hair! Susan and Esther are right to “ooooh” her.


Giant Days #3

Written by John Allison
Drawn by Lissa Treiman
Coloured by Whitney Cogar
Lettered by Jim Campbell


Steve Morris runs this site! Having previously written for sites including The Beat, ComicsAlliance, CBR and The MNT, he can be found on Twitter here. He’s a bunny.

Many thanks to Clark Burscough for his help with our annotations!