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 Max Sarin, Lissa Treiman 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
Ice skating is a rare treat in Britain, with rinks set up temporarily round the country for a two month period between December-February for people to damage themselves on. We have indoor rinks as well, though, which is where the girls have headed for the start of this issue. Indoor rinks are where things get competitive and scary, though, so I don’t tend to go to them – you don’t want to get yourself bowled over by an over-caffeinated eight year old. So, alas, I cannot tell you if drunkos really do get on the rink and skate around with a pack of crisps in hand.

My friend’s mum apparently once fell over on an ice rink and somebody skated over her fingers – it didn’t cut them off though, luckily, but euuuugggh.

Sheffield is also home to one of the UK’s premier ice hockey teams – the Steelers. Clark once saw them play the Nottingham Panthers and the drone blimp thing that was being used for aerial partially deflated and was bounced around by the crowd like a beach ball.

Page 2
I didn’t know what superannuated meant until this issue. Apparently Esther’s newest beau only has to work a certain term before getting a guaranteed pension?

It seems… vaguely hypocritical for Susan to be judging someone else for a forbidden tryst, so soon after her own shenanigans last issue.

I like Daisy’s gloves. They have a professionalism about them which is not then backed up by her ability on the rink.

Page 3
Get a load of McGraw! An empty shirt is a member of a team who represents nothing but another uniform on the floor – they’re present, technically, but they offer nothing other than density in a group photo.

Thanks, John Allison, now I have to go look up the difference between a 2-port and 3-port motorized valve… actually, you know what, why not just head to this website as direct citation, but lord knows if this is the same type of valve McGraw had in mind. You were only going to skip this paragraph anyway.

Page 4
Daisy’s quoting Terry Pratchett here. Specifically, she’s referencing Captain Samuel Vimes ‘Boots’ theory of socioeconomic unfairness, as put forward in Men at Arms: The Play. A poor man will spend a large sum of money once on a pair of shoes that will last him for decades – a rich man, however, can afford to buy throwaway, disposable shoes every few months, even though they don’t give him any kind of lasting use.

My university, Aberystwyth, is built at the top of a massive, hour-long hill. That’s fine in your first year when you’re living up there, but it’s an absolute killer when you move down into the town in your subsequent years. Luckily there’s a hospital halfway up the climb.

Clark grew up with Lincoln being the nearest city, and it has a street called, simply, Steep Hill. Reader, the name is apt.

Page 5
I think Daisy is quoting a speech from Friday Night Lights. There’s a lot of downtime at University, especially for certain subjects, and that time can only be filled with box-sets. If I’d been asked to deliver an inspirational speech here, I think I would’ve just quoted Miley Cyrus.

Having watched Friday Night Lights all the way through thrice now, Clark would say that quoting Coach Eric Taylor is the ultimate way to motivate someone. Daisy is also wearing cowboy boots, reminiscent of the coach’s wife Tammy, who is also a known motivator of wayward souls in the FNL universe.

Page 6
A snakebite and black is a mix of lager, cider, and blackcurrant cordial. It’s a bit of a childish drink, but it looks faintly professional on a pub table during daytime I suppose?

I’m going to leave the context of their arguments to Clark to explain. I’m politically in the same mindset as Esther. Clark?

I think they both make valid points in the final panel – privatisation of utilities is only asking for trouble during times of rampant financial deregulation, but you’d be hard-pressed to get the platform a fair airing when the corporations privatising things own the media too. Just because you’re paranoid, doesn’t mean they’re not after you.

Page 7
However I’m fairly sure that people across Europe are *not* turning to the far left at the moment. It’s the complete opposite, in fact. The world is getting older, more paranoid, and harsher. Although university is a great place to get politically invested, there’s no shame in turning away from it. Politics will have an affect on your life, but the argument that you’ll never have an affect on politics is a fairly convincing one, despite what people may say. It’s not childish to say politics aren’t for you!

The film Green Room, as well as being an excellent thriller, has a nice line where a venue is described as being run by a group so ultra-left wing that they may as well be right wing. It’s usually a good rule of thumb to make sure to know who might be playing you, lest ye be played.

Page 8
Okay, Daisy has definitely been watching Friday Night Lights. As a nice visual touch, Daisy has now styled her hair to emulate that of Tammy Taylor, FNL’s matriarch, and the heart of the show.

While looking up the origin of saying you “goosed” yourself, I found this helpful list of goosing conjugations. The internet has thought of everything by this point.

Page 9
Esther’s response to being exposed to adult talk is to turn into a 1950s domestic goddess. That’s a particularly subversive twist for her.

The return of the passive-aggressive kitchen post-its! “Your mum isn’t here, please clean up after yourself” is a classic one. Clark and I both had good mums who made sure that we could take care of ourselves before uni, and separately we both then proceeded to not take very good care of ourselves for at least the first year. On a related note, if you’re ever in the Hyde Park area of Leeds, then Pitza Cano does a great line in delicious food.

Susan, you should probably have upwrapped that cupcake first.

Page 10
Daisy’s switched back to Coach Taylor here, taking on the best role to fit the motivational situation she finds herself in. Adapting tactics in such a way is exactly what Coach Taylor would counsel.

Sometimes I watch a TV show and get convinced that I should and can act like the characters I like. I still have several personality tics that I think came from Xander off of Buffy. I also tend to act a bit like the Eleventh Doctor, but that’s cool and you all love it.

Page 11
Daisy may have had her mind warped by sports psychology, but she’s dead-right about Ed. If you’re filling up a bucket with used tissues then you definitely need to step back for a second and rethink things! She’s also gone back to Tammy again. Quite how she’s styling her hair for these quick turnarounds, we’ll never know.

I’m not entirely sure I understand Ed’s comparison to a jigsaw puzzle. What, the idea is that people say “get out there” but it’s impossible to do when you’re trying to work to a bigger picture you can’t see yet?

It’s so much better that BOOM! Studios just let their writers use the word “Facebook” rather than force them to think of alternative fake versions. It’s much more immerse for the story.

Page 12
I’d recommend writing for the student magazine/newspaper. We had no budget for ours, and it rarely came out – but when it did, I usually had a random article in there somewhere. For reasons lost to the depths of time, I always used a pseudonym, so I can’t claim credit for any of them now. Ho-hum.

Everything I know about newsrooms I learned from season 5 of The Wire and Press Gang. Press Gang had the better theme tune though, and I’ll have words with anyone who says otherwise

Every single one of the people working for “The Pig” looks awesome. Max Sarin is brilliant.

“Doughnut”, Amanda. It’s “doughnut”. You’re an editor and you should know better.

Page 13 and Page 14
“Rosebud” is the name of the sled! Oh no, spoilers for a movie that none of us are ever going to watch! This whole thing of “Rosebud” being a famous spoiler for Citizen Kane is fascinating really, because the question posed by the film “what is the importance of the word Rosebud” has now been replaced by “why is it important we know that Rosebud is a sled?” Times change and so must we.

These are as joyous a scene as you can get in comics. Giant Days is brilliant. It’s also vaguely reminiscent of Clark’s favourite Achewood comic.

Page 15
Esther’s disguise is essentially that she’s not visibly wearing anything with a skull on it.

Page 16
A title card!

It’s honestly very charming that Esther is trying so hard here. She did more research here than she did for her exams! Which… makes it a bit weird that the Professor calls her “outside the education system”. Does he just mean because she’s an english student?

Page 17
This is really harsh.

If I’m right, steam irons automatically either switch themselves off or trip the electricity if you leave them running too long – meaning DeGraw was right about his lack of functional DIY knowledge!

Page 18
This is barely related, but here’s a guide to cutting your own blouson dress I found at random.

Page 19
Don’t be an Ian. Nobody likes an Ian. Well, this specific Ian, there’s plenty of nice Ians and… look, you get the point I’m making.

The capper to this page is affirming. Everybody likes when somebody makes an effort!

Page 20
Milquetoast means a person who is sort of just bland or boring and submissive. There’s appeal to their standard type of attractiveness, but most people want something more going on. As Shelfdust Patron Steve Jeffery has noted, this sounds just like “The Boy”, Eustace…

We have a few mail-order catalogues still running in the UK. Littlewoods is the biggest, perhaps, but you’d be surprised by the endurance of physical catalogues even now we’re in a digital world. It’s a bit like people who still buy physical comics despite everything being available online now.

The yellow pages has definitely shrunk, however. No more standing on it to kiss your beau.

Page 21
Okay, a disclaimer: deep frying a turkey is incredibly dangerous and don’t ever do it. That said, if you do decide to ever do it, then try to cook it for around 3 mins for every pound of weight.

The only thing less healthy than trying to deep fry a turkey is to then eat the resulted fried turkey. Don’t do that to your system, people.

Aha! Our suspicions about Daisy are confirmed! Also, Susan really really likes throwing things out the window, doesn’t she? I hope they’re on a ground floor level. Also, that the bins are directly outside. Littering is bad.

Steve Jeffery explains: “Canola is what ‘Murricans call Rape Seed, the crop which turns great swathes of the countryside yellow every year. It’s basically cooking oil, ideal for deep frying a turkey… or not. A pennant (not “plennant”) is a triangular flag, typically seen on US college room walls in film and TV emblazoned with the name of the local (insert sport of choice) team, as well as flying from the rigging on boats.”

Thanks Steve, because I had literally no idea what any of that meant!

Apparently this is a fairly accurate representation of what going cold turkey from FNL looks like – they should have a warning sticker on that box set.

Page 22
Ed’s certainly getting some admiring glances from Amanda. She still hasn’t learned the correct way to pronounce “doughnut”, though. Argh!


Giant Days #8

Written by John Allison
Drawn by Max Sarin
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!