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. Here, then, are our annotations to help guide you through life at Sheffield University.
Ah! Molecular gastronomy, as made famous by Chef Heston Blumenthal. If you ever thought that cooking lacked scientific diagrams and analysis, have we found the discipline for you! This is basically the name which covers any of those restaurants where the food is structurally analysed rather than enjoyable – the sort of thing where you get gravy served as a series of small cubes, eggs turned into a frozen lollipop which has to be eaten only after you’ve sprayed an aerosol version of hollandaise sauce on it – y’know, unbearable food, essentially.
It should be pointed out that Daisy has some new gloves here, with lovehearts on them. I’m a big fan of those gloves.
The bins are so green! It’s thrilling.
McGraw staring vacantly out a window during blizzard conditions is definitely not a sign of “freaking out”, I agree, Daisy.
I’m obsessed by that Victorian era smut poster on the wall of their living room. Why is there a poster of a woman which crops out her face and shows off so much thigh? This must have been a Dean decision, what a particular choice for decoration in the first room any guest will see when they walk into the house.
Sauerkraut is finely cut raw cabbage that has been fermented by various lactic acid bacteria. Goddamn it, Germany.
Ed rages with all the fire of the Phoenix but none of the power.
Wearing a Hello Kitty face mask for protection, Dean suggests that he’ll use some lactobacillus to turn back this nightmare – lactobacillus being “good bacteria” which yoghurt adverts always say is a good thing for you to be eating. Not even a mountain of Yakult will turn this tide, I fear.
A gasket is another name for a seal – in this instance, it appears to be the inside of the washing machine which McGraw has ripped out and used to stuff the bottom crack of his door.
Ed, freshly high after sniffing a bottle of deodorant – don’t do that, kids! – is starting to suspect that all is not well between McGraw and Emilia. When it comes to Danish philosophy, you don’t come more highly recommended than Søren Kierkegaard, who gets namedropped here. He was the first existentialist philosopher… or was he? What if he never existed at all, dear reader?
McGraw stress whittles, which is a lovely little thing. The British electric plug system is the best in the world, though, so I know where he’s coming from. It’s the only plug system in the world which doesn’t appear to be a deadly weapon which will slice straight through any foot which stands on it. How does the rest of the world cope with their horrific, violent plugs? I need to take a break, this is winding me up, I’m going for a cold shower. Brrr.
Right, where were we? Ah, a Chinese and English takeaway. Just the thing if you want them to pour gravy on your dim sum.
If you google “man bun” on google the first question you get is “Who started the Man Bun?”, which I’m certain is meant to be read as an accusation. That’s the google search of an assassin out to restore some karmic justice to the world, mark my words.
I will refrain from typing “web chat 4 cash dot biz” into my google browser. I think we all know what kind of result it might bring, and I don’t feel like having a virus immediately downloaded onto my computer at this moment in time.
The Turing Test! Named for Alan Turing, this is a test designed to see whether a computer can show signs of human individualism or sentience. To pass the test, the computer must be able to convince a human that it, too, is human. Twitter, for example, is a daily Turing Test set up for us all by the Russians.
K-Pop was only just beginning to seep into UK Culture at the time of publication, but nowadays it’s taking over – rightfully so, Korean pop music is much more entertaining, polished, and fun than any other pop music at the moment. If they ever do a proper Dazzler appearance in a movie, she should be played by a K-Pop star.
Dean looks ridiculous here. Max Sarin and Whitney Cogar pay such attention to is whole stupid aesthetic.
MMORPG means “massively multiplayer online roleplaying game”, I believe. Where’s Christian Hoffer when you need him? It’s basically an online game where you create a character and send them out into an online world where all the other characters are being played by other gamers. You team up to complete quests or win gold, or you fight one another. Judging from a cursory glance of Youtube, it also seems to help if you are racist in some manner.
Although in Dean’s game, there’s no fighting – it’s all-tradesmithing all the time, it seems. He makes carts, and the object of his affection makes barrels. Fascinating stuff. As this is an online game, she’s wearing a bikini and Dean is incredibly buff, with massive arms.
A glitch is when something goes slightly wrong in a game due to errant coding – in this case, a cow breaks in half in a whirlwind of polygons. There are whole sections of gaming now which rely on these glitches: people deliberately make the game break in small ways so they can speed-complete their levels in the fastest time possible. It’s called speedrunning.
Oh yeah! For a while, we had these cardboard cutouts at railway stations and airports, and they use a projector to put the image of a person over the top of them. You’re meant to be able to talk to the cutout and ask it for directions, etc, but I think the concept was discontinued due to drunk people trying to have sex with them,
Back at the comic shop, Esther is deliberately upsetting customers by telling them that the remake of Battlestar Galactica isn’t as good as the original series. It’s one of those things where there’s a group of people standing and loudly expressing their position on both sides of the argument, but most people would say the remake is better. Eh, whatever.
I don’t think “Chess” is a real comic, but I’m happy to be proved wrong!
It looks like Dean has fallen in love with a steampunk – someone whose choice of fashion is heavily influenced by a love for industrial machinery. That usually takes the form of cogs and gears and goggles and stuff.
Ed is possibly rocking a Team Rocket shirt! They’re the antagonists of the Pokemon franchise, who want to rule the world through various Pokemon-related shenanigans. They’re beloved because they’re so incompetent.
As they look through the window, Esther has brought theatre binoculars to ensure she gets a good view. The old man and his dog stood behind them…. he must be from somewhere, but I can’t think where! Answers on a postcard please.
There’s not a comic called Lady Transgressions, but there is a rich history of sex comics. Zenoscope still operate, and that was their whole thing – sexy versions of Snow White and that sort of thing. You’ve got Tarot,
and you’ve got Lady Death. There’s a bunch of them. There are also a lot of comics which mixed their ink with… bad things. Someone once took vials of Stan Lee’s blood so they could autograph comics using it as ink. Ugh.
Comics are worthless once you buy them. Speculating is only a thing because the comics industry lies to you. There are only a few comics which are actually worth anything, and that’s only because they’re in pristine and bagged condition, locked away in vaults. Don’t buy comics as a speculator: it’s a waste of time.
This is all very unnerving. It’s hard to tell if Posy is just milking Dean of all his money, or if she actually likes him but also likes spending money? It might be that every woman reading these annotations is yelling right now about how it’s clearly the former and I’m being ignorant.
Daisy is drinking a cup of tea whilst everyone else has a beer. I’ve become obsessed with these small habits.
Esther’s disinterest in comics factoids is charming. Rogue is that one out of the X-Men who, if you make skin contact with her, she’ll absorb all your memories and abilities and you’ll be knocked out for a few hours. Y’know, the one with the white streak in her hair? Says “y’all” a bunch?
“Jack into a node” “destroy the host”. Esther has become Sandra Bullock in a movie from 1994.
On the wedding day Ed has chosen to be half man half lion, Daisy is a unicorn, Susan is a dwarf and McGraw is… McGraw. Telling choices, all.
Ed doesn’t actually know the references he’s talking about, which makes him… uh… me, actually. It’s “n00b” (which means newcomer) and “pwn” (which means defeat).
In-game purchases: it’s not enough to buy a game now – once you start playing, the game will give you added bonuses, costumes, equipment etc if you make “small” additional payments.
Max Sarin must have loved drawing this page.
The Universal Life Church is famous because anybody can log onto the site, fill out a form, and then be formally ordained as a minister. I did it when I was thirteen! Anybody can do it! You get a little silly certificate you can print out as proof, and it’s legally binding I think only when you step into a Universal Life Church. The moment you walk out again, you’re no longer actually married. I think!
“Fruit and loom” refers to Fruit of the Loom, a clothing company with a weird biblical origin story.
“Warp and weft” are terms used for weaving yarn.
Hootie and the Blowfish are a band from the 90s. You can listen to a song here, although I personally chose not to.
Esther interrupts, dressed as a Valkyrie, which is just disguise enough in that there are no skulls literally in her clothing for once.
Dean is wearing a nutso kimono here. What a choice.
It’s interesting how Posy leaves as soon as she considers herself unworthy – that seems to cut off the whole “golddigging” angle, doesn’t it? Posy is a character I can’t really get my head around…. but again, I’m sure you’re all reading these annotations with full understanding. For once, you don’t need to tell me in the comments.
Giant Days #26
Written by John Allison
Drawn by Max Sarin
Inked by Liz Fleming
Coloured by Whitney Cogar
Lettered by Jim Campbell
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