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!

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Page 1
I knew you were wondering, and yes, there is a 272 bus service in operation for the Sheffield area. It goes from Sheffield to Castleton and back, and it certainly does not appear to go near any public swimming pools. Not even an unguarded lake!

The bus driver looks… really happy to be doing their job here.

One time I made a hilarious mistake just like Esther, assuming that the 228 bus would go at least a little bit in the same direction as the 128 bus I actually needed. Noooooope. Round Clark’s way in That There London, the 36, 136, and 436 all go in vaguely the same direction, so it’s anybody’s game trying to guess this stuff.

It turns out that the girls have ended up in Hathersage, which is in the Peak District, a rural area of parks, fields, valleys and limestone. Lots and lots of limestone.

Page 2
I hadn’t realised that Steven Universe had made it to the Peak District, but that guy at the back seems to have picked up a shirt somewhere.

There is no month in the year where it is appropriate to go to an open air swimming pool in the UK. March is an especially bad time, because it’s one of the months of the year. Clark used to have swimming lessons in an outdoor (heated) pool in the middle of nowhere. It was vaguely terrifying, may explain a number of nightmares he has on a regular basis.

Page 3
A pinafore is a sleeveless dress, intended to be worn over a shirt or blouse. Alice from Wonderland wears one, most famously.

Rumspringa is a period of time for Amish teenagers when they bend their rules a little, and explore themselves more. Usually it ends with them either settling down into Amish life – or leaving home. I don’t know how this topic came up in Daisy’s lessons.

Esther’s commitment to skellington attire is on full display here, as is her tattoo! The design of which is ambiguous at best.

Page 4
There’s a short grace period when you get out a swimming pool where everything is fine. But as time goes on, you better get yourself back in that changing room before the grace period ends, because you can bet that there’ll some kind of weird draft in the corridor which chills you to the bone. Max Sarin GETS IT.

Are Girl Guides a worldwide organisation? Or do they have a different name in other countries? Basically Daisy is a Lumberjane leader, and it’s absolutely the cutest thing in the world.

Esther, that is not a fair time for you to get distracted by your phone. Poor Daisy.

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Page 5
Sarah Grote! She’s a character who appeared in Scary Go Round, one of the earliest stories by John Allison and the one which gave name to his website. She was in Esther’s class at school, alongside ‘the boy’ and sometime queen of hell Erin Winters.

Big Lindsay was also one of the characters who appeared in Scary Go Round, and her upcoming presence marks one of the first de-facto crossovers between Giant Days and Allison’s webcomics. Exciting! She was another schoolmate of Esther’s, and was a little bit of a bully, in honesty. Who knows if age has curbed her violent tendencies?

I could be wrong here, but I thought Sylvia Plath was actually buried in Heptonstall?

Page 6
Jeff Koons is an american artist who is known for making metal sculptures. He takes a block of metal, right, and he sculpts it into the shape of a balloon animal, or a bowling ball – silly things like that, but surprisingly realistic to look at and pretty impressive to be fair.

Mastadon are one of those heavy metal bands I think, unless Susan is predicting the brief arrival of a rival social media network on the scene, whilst also completely misrepresenting it as some kind of metal object. She’s probably talking about the band.

Susan seems grouchy… er.

Page 7
I love the touch that Daisy’s taking off her shoes in order to make her movements sneakier.

Lindsay shares Esther’s love for skull/skellington-related apparel, it seems.

Esther’s recollection of her youth does not seem all that shocking, if you ask me. A classic moonshine jug there, reminiscent of those featured heavily in the work of Tony Millionaire, among others.

Page 8
Is… Lindsay eating a Flintstones-sized haunch of meat? Off the bone?!

Can pants truly be designated as “party” pants? Be right back, I need to go commission some writers about some things! Colours can also be given the “party” signifier, as shown in this documentary.

Page 9
Susan’s informant is still at it on that bench, those sweaters presumably now starting to smell just a little. Clark says that the look of the informant is reminds him of a character from Akira – one of Tetsuo’s psychics – but he can’t remember where they feature. You’ll just have to go re-read all 2,000 odd pages again, Clark!

Wait, but if politics is meaningless, then does that mean they rigged the first season of Pop Idol because Will needed the push but they knew Gareth would make it as a musician even without the win?

Page 10
Everybody in this pub is strange. One guy has a shirt that says “deaf” on it for no reason and wait a minute did I just see a man walking around with a live snake draped over his shoulders?

Lindsay appears to have found a dentist chair at the local pub somehow. Who needs to end up in a hospital when you can bring a hospital to the bar?

McGraw has finally gone full caveman, and it’s alarming as hell. The primal urges of the metalhead can only be truly sated within the confines of a rowdy circle pit.

Page 11
The facial expressions in the first three panels of this page are all exquisite, especially McGraw and Esther’s eyes.

And that’s how you make a Flamin’ Daisy.

Page 12
What kind of crazy city has bowling available after 8.30pm? That’s dangerous, irresponsible, reckless! And speaking of dangerous, check out the spikes on Lindsay’s boots!!!

You may have noticed, but there’s not much in the way of annotating required at the moment. Some experiences are universal, and faking a fire so you can escape having to drink more alcohol just so happens to be one of those selfsame experiences. Uh…. right?

Page 13
Possibly the most horrifying part of a carnage-filled night out is when you wake up next morning and see half a dozen bottles of random liquor all still slightly full and stood up round your bed. What are you meant to do with them? Store them for later? Down them now? Pour them down the sink?

It sounds like Daisy spent the evening playing the hero. Foot and mouth disease is an impressive reason to have your bar get shut down – it’s a disease spread through direct contact with faeces, so somewhere in Sheffield there’s a bar owner having to answer some very difficult questions right now. Growing up in the countryside during the foot and mouth outbreak was no laughing matter and required lots and lots of instances of shuffling your shoes around in bleach baths.

Oh no, it looks as though McGraw threw up on himself too? What devastation hath Lindsay wrought. It looks like the bottle of AYAYA that has been almost finished is 80% ABV which is… alarmingly high.

Page 14
Possibly the most impressive thing anybody has ever done whilst hung over.

The scene with Ed trying to collect up his birthday money which got blown out the window seems like such a specific one to put into this story that I really wonder if it’s something that actually happened to John Allison one time.

Page 15
Hog Wild was a 1930s Laurel & Hardy movie in which the duo attempt to install a radio antenna to the top of their roof. Chaos ensues. It is not to be confused with Wild Hogs, a gay-panic film starring an unravelling John Travolta. Lindsay is not referring to either of these movies, but I just wanted to bring them up really.

Speaking as someone who enjoys music from the louder end of the spectrum, Clark’s favourite thing is probably the number of sub-genres there are within the wider descriptor of “heavy metal”, with some existing purely to describe a single band. Lovely stuff.

Page 16
Visceral. And we’re not just talking about the minute level of detail on the lead singer’s teeth on this page. Dental humour!

Page 17
“A truck flying through a cathedral roof” is such a specific sound that you have to wonder if it’s something that actually happened to John Allison one time.

After looking really hard online, I had to admit defeat and say that it looks like there’s no such thing as a tile-based board game based on season 7 of E.R. Write in if you’ve either got proof that it already exists or if you’re in the midst of writing one at this very moment! If someone wants to make a custom version of the (excellent) tile-placing game Azul with faces from key ER characters on said tiles, then we would be very interested to hear from them.

Who do you think blabbed? I can’t see it being Esther, because as far as we know she isn’t aware Ed has a crush on her. McGraw surely wouldn’t betray trust – would Daisy consider it passing fun conversation? I wonder if it was her. Clark’s theory is that Lindsay may be a telepath similar in strength to Anderson, PSI. This is now canon.

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Page 18
In this age of Pokemon, I look twice at anybody called Gary.

Mercurial is a good word that I don’t fully know the meaning of. England had a mercurial king once, called George III.

Did anybody else notice that saucy bowling ball on the sign behind them? Oh my. Also the place is called Bowling Ally, so I think the ball may be called Ally!?

 

Page 19
When somebody resorts to speaking in single-letter announcements, you’re either in trouble or speaking to an opium-smoking caterpillar. In either circumstance, you’d best be careful about what you say next.

“Calm down dear” is a phrase synonymous with Michael Winner, the late film director who starred in a series of awkward – and beloved – adverts where he’d break the fourth wall in a half-dazed manner and reassure people that what they were watching was, after all, just an advert for car insurance.

Page 20
Every character is going to do the “morning after freeze” at least once before this series ends, I guarantee it.

Isn’t it nice to see a grown up depiction of a one-night stand in a comic series? Ed and Lindsay actually have just as much respect for each other in the morning as they had the night before! Also, now we’ve seen Ed’s hairy legs and can never forget them. Zoinks!

Page 21
Auntie Pam is the most rad character to appear in this comic so far. Where is her backstory please?!

Esther seems to have a serious concern that cuteness is going to kill her one day. This is the second time she’s panicked about it in one issue. Gary is a pretty badass baby though, with his little skull shirt and all.

Page 22
Oh lord, something is wrong in the house of Susan and McGraw. Susan seems a bit one-track-minded about this whole political campaign of hers. The Manchurian Candidate was a novel and then a movie which sees a member of a prominent US political family be brainwashed into becoming a communist assassin.

McGraw responds by quoting American Civil War General William Tecumseh Sherman, saying that he would not run even if he were chosen to do so. Such a statement is known as a “Shermanesque Statement”, with several US senators using it as a way to remove themselves from political campaigns – sometimes as a show of support for whoever is leading the nominations at the time (so as not to split the vote) and sometimes as a subtle way of removing yourself from a vote you know you aren’t going to win anyway.

In World War II the British soldiers nicknamed the Medium Tank M4 the “Sherman” after the aforementioned general. That seems like the war-iest a single person can get – being so associated with the general concept of combat that a death-machine is named after you centuries after your death.

Oh Susan!

Giant Days #10

Written by John Allison
Drawn by Max Sarin
Coloured by Whitney Cogar
Lettered by Jim Campbell

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

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