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
Is Giant Days an alternate universe, where Bush went up against Bush in the election? Or is Daisy the sort of person who pretends Al Gore didn’t exist? The possibilities are endless, although most likely it’s the second one. Daisy’s so excited that she’s swinging her legs round under the desk, and she’s been busy doing origami.

I’ve only ever played the Lego version of Portal, so this may be wrong, but I think that might be one of the floating robots from the game showing up in that poster behind Daisy, excitedly yelling about space. Clark thinks it’s one of GLaDOS’ cores (or Wheatley from Portal 2), yep

Speaking of games – looks like Esther and Kully are playing Pokemon on Nintendo DS!

A brief search for “fingernail fetish” online (with my eyes covered, of course, just peeking through my fingers without looking at my fingernails) suggests that they do exist, although mainly on Reddit because of course.

Page 2
Clara Croft, living the gimmick.

Oh no, Ann Purd implemented the Omemega Protocol. Does that work? Adding “meme” to “Omega”? It’s definitely hard to say out loud.

Page 3
In fairness, perhaps the giveaway for Susan should’ve been that her informant was stood next to Ann Purd the whole time. The idea of a ‘spoiler’ in an election is quite interesting, actually. So in this election you had two candidates with a chance of winning – the beer drinking guy and the nerdy girl. But say there’s a worry that the guy is going to win by a high margin over the girl – she can’t expect his voters to turn and vote for her, but if a third candidate was brought in, say another fairly generic male, then his presence will split the voters who were going to vote for the previous male candidate. Without the third candidate the vote might have been 3000 for the guy and 2000 for the girl, but because of the third candidate it now splits as 1500 for each male candidate and the 2000 still stay with Ann. That’s essentially what they’ve done here.

“Look me in the eye when you stab me in the back” is the name of my Panic at the Disco tribute band. Susan’s skull aura is a lot less friendly than Esther’s aura.

He reminds Clark of everyone’s favourite psychic – The Eggman. Agree? Disagree?

Page 4
If you look into the phrase “revenge marking”, you’ll find out a lot about dogs who hold grudges. Again, I’d like to reiterate that you should always be nice to your dog! It’s the right thing to do, and it protects you from having a house that smells like pee.

I like Esther’s devil satchel, that’s a good accessory. Do BOOM! sell that in their online store yet?

Page 5
Gordon has a lot of thoughts throughout this page, and I love him. So anyway, in England we have a lot of pigeons, and one thing that’s sprung up, especially in the North, is ‘pigeon fancying’. That doesn’t mean people snog pigeons, but instead that they keep them as pets, and in several cases race them. Because pigeons have some kind of magical ability to sense where they are and where home is, they can fly miles and miles and still find their way home – so people competitively train pigeons to fly, and bet on it. Daisy seems more of a casual fancier than a racer, though.

One thing I like about this series and feels really authentic is that the characters will wear outfits more than once.

As the documentary Shrek shows – living in a swamp is a great idea, and you’ll make a lot of new friends if you do so.

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Page 6
Gordon let go of that sandwich immediately! Susan is in a bad place!

Susan is also right, that is an excellent joke that Esther has made.

“Camping! That’s the solution!” said nobody ever.

Page 7
Great Britain used to have a large population of wolves, but hunting seems to have rendered them basically gone from the island, as far as I’m aware. There are currently attempts to reintroduce them to the wild, because apparently they’ll be good for tourism once we overthrow the Monarchy and need to find some kind of replacement.

There was an outbreak of foot and mouth disease in the UK about ten years ago, and the thought that it’ll return has remained on the mind of everybody here since. It causes blisters around the foot and mouth, which probably would damage Esther’s mani-pedi were she to contract it. Clark grew up in the countryside during this – there was a lot of stepping into tubs of bleach before going onto/leaving off of farmland.

Camping is pretty farty. Also, in the morning all the local snails will have gathered to your tent and climbed halfway up the fabric opening.

Page 8
None of the hats you’ll find in a camping shop are actually of any use whilst camping. That’s the first known rule of camping shops.

The rotator cuff is the part of your body designed to make sure you keep your shoulder in place. If you injure it I think basically you’ve ripped or torn a really strong set of muscles which weren’t designed to be torn, so it’s a super-painful injury to have.

To reiterate: Britain does not have wolves living wild in the countryside. We do have the Beast of Bodmin Moor, though.

Page 9
Drop the biscuits! Those girls should be eating trail mix and Kendal mint cakes like hardened campers!

If you want an enjoyable internet hole to fall down, then you can do far worse than spending an afternoon reading up on the theories behind how homing pigeons navigate.

Brownies are the UK version of girl scouts – an afterschool club where young girls go and do different outdoorsy activities under the hopefully watchful eye of their Brownie Leader. Brownies are 7-10 years of age, which in honesty tracks with Susan and Esther. I don’t think Nega-Badges are a thing though.

Page 10
It’s probably for the best that Esther has such a bright jacket, because she seems the most likely to get lost in a crevasse somewhere.

Page 11
Spike pits are not specifically forbidden by the Brownie Code anywhere that I can tell of. Mostly the code is focused on being true to yourself and your friends and, weirdly, obeying any orders that you might receive from The Queen. What a strangely specific rule to include. That’s troubling.

Looks like Susan threw away all the ropes that you tie to the tent and then tie into the ground to make sure that you aren’t swept away by any whirlwinds.

Page 12 and Page 13
Ghost McGraw (McGhost?) is dishing out some pretty decent consolation for our broken-hearted Susan. He then also does the kindest thing of all and renounces all other women forevermore. Fingers crossed that this is an actual ghost and not just Susan hallucinating due to a lack of cigarettes!

Ghost McGraw should get a spin-off where he joins forces with fellow torso ghost Izabel from Saga and they solve ghost crimes. Make it happen, respective publishers of these titles!!!

Page 14
McGraw isn’t able to cut keys anymore, which is the first stage of getting over a bad relationship. I bet he made that sling himself though. Rotator cuff technology has come a long way.

How on Earth would a bunch of students ever get to the zoo? The zoo is always a car ride away – you can’t just get a bus there! Uh… I think?

Page 15
I warned you all that if you give a bunch of snails the chance, they’ll break into your tent and slime all over your pillows, and now look: I bet that’s a ravenous pack that’ve broken into Esther’s tent.

We do not have wolves in Great Britain.

Daisy comes across as a pretty scary pack-leader here. Do you think she makes her seven year old charges fight hypothetical wolves too? Clark has friends who are teachers and when they use their “work voice” he instinctively feels like he’s about to get detention. His parents aren’t going to be angry, just… very disappointed.

Page 16
If you are ever approached by an angry wolf, then your first move should be to try and intimidate it and get aggressive. Make loud noises, clap your hands, step towards it and try to show that you are the scariest and it should just run away and give up the fight. If it thinks it can take you, though, then… get some weapons, I guess? What would Liam Neeson do?

Hint: he’d probably read the Wikihow guide.

What actually is that creature, anyway? Is it a little stoat or something? It looks pretty narked off.

How do you tell the difference between a stoat and a weasel? One is weasily recognised and the other is stoatally different!

Page 17
Esther’s technique is sound. So sound, in fact, that in Japan they use it to sort out and pacify drunk people out on the streets. Lie them down on a towel, roll them up, then leave them until they calm down. I don’t think they think they’re in a sandwich though – if I remember right, it’s like going back to a young state, when they were cramped up with their mum, and so they regress back into a childlike state of mind? Is that right?

Susan’s quoting “Firestarter” by The Prodigy, but I wouldn’t expect Daisy to ever know that.

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Page 18
Being out in the wild is a bit of a refresher. It reminds you that there’s a lot going on in the world, but there’s also a lot of empty, quiet places where nothing matters. Having said that, who’s going to turn your boss’ computer on and help him with his itunes password if you aren’t there??

Those are some of the cheeriest marshmallows you’ll see anywhere!

Esther jokes, but if she truly was mummified she’d have had her brain pulled out through her nose using a hooked instrument.

Page 19
America has Death Valley and Africa has the Serengeti, but Sheffield is very close to the Lakes District, which is truly the most dangerous place on Earth.

When Daisy mentions the briar-patch she’s referring to the most famous tale of Brer Rabbit, created by Joel Chandler Harris. When captured by Brer Fox, his captor asks him if he has any last requests. Brer Rabbit – the smartest of all – plays the odds and says “oh please DON’T throw me in the briar patch! Anything but that!” Brer Fox of course decides to go ahead and do just that – which allows Brer Rabbit to happily escape, because the briar patch is actually his home and he’s the only one small enough to squeeze under the brambles without getting harmed.

Page 20
Was Gordon with them the whole time?? Daisy releases him off into the wild, presumably to train him for pigeon racing. We mentioned it in a previous annotation, but pigeons are able to “home” on where they live, so Gordon will probably fly straight back to the hall of residence and be home before the girls are.

WHAT ARE THOSE WOLVES DOING THERE THEY’RE MEANT TO BE OUR NATIONAL SECRET… I mean, ahem! What fun creative license from the team here! We definitely aren’t full of wolves in Great Britain.

Page 21
We’re here to help you, Susan! “Whoop it up” is formally defined (in the urban dictionary) as: “A spontaneous, enthusiastic, and possibly excessive positive reaction to an event often characterized by rolling laughter, celebratory high-fives and exclamations such as snap, bam, or booyah.”

Esther claiming that you go home at Easter to eat real food goes against the experience of most people, who go home at Easter to eat chocolate until they feel sick.

Page 22
One touch which is nice with a British creative team is that they draw the cars going on the correct side of the road. So many people draw it wrong!

And finally…. argh, what a cliffhanger! Snap, bam, booyah! Such a shame we never see Esther in the series again after this, but I guess when you make a decision like that there’s no going back… OR IS THERE?

Giant Days #12

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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