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.
By Steve Morris
Advice dictates that you should eat before you go to a supermarket, as being hungry affects your judgement and makes you spend more money than you should. Listen to such dictated advice, Esther!
I get very upset at supermarket sandwiches. Here I am, £3 in hand, wanting something simple – give me a plain cheese sandwich, a simple ham sandwich, and here they are offering me prawn with cress, mayonnaise, anchovies and, I dunno, pineapple or whatever. Just give us the basics! Why won’t supermarkets let me be basic? Jam sandwiches on supermarket aisles by 2021 please.
Oh, right, the annotations. Esther refers to “the man who introduced the triangular sandwich packet to the UK” – that’d be her neighbour, who passed away a few issues back.
Other comics which are available in the shop include “wow” “super super!” and “stab”.
There is NO money in comics. I hope the artistic team on the comic, working for Boom Studios, were okay with placing that line into this story.
Esther is pricing up Locke & Key, and standing next to a display that features several comics by friends and contemporaries of the creative team – there’s Hark a Vagrant by Kate Beaton; Carry Me by Dan Berry; Through the Woods by Emily Carroll, and Deep Dark Fears by Fran Krause.
Ambient death metal? That’s… a thing, it seems. Although maybe I’m conflating it with “Dark Ambient” music, which is an easy mistake to make, probably. Obviously I haven’t bothered listening to either because I only listen to Ashley O.
Daisy keeps dropping these small hints that she knows she’s in a comic book, and it’s very unsettling.
This is possibly the first reference to Wendlefield in this series – Wendlefield being the rival town to Tackleford, which is where most of John Allison’s characters and stories come from. It’s most famous feature is a series of 16 nested mini-roundabouts (I believe they’re called “rotaries” in America) which is otherwise known as The Endless Gyratory.
Satan does exist in this world, and deals have been made with him previously. I don’t think Esther needed his help in this case, however.
Welcome to gentrification, Esther. As a middle-class white person, I understand your situation.
Daisy is the ultimate friend. She takes Esther off onion-chopping duties, gently pushes her chair under the table for her, and tries to help her resist Belial the Ultimate Destroyer. What more could you want?
That stuffed raven Esther “inherited” from the man next door has taken pride of place in the kitchen.
Did we know that Ed and Esther have a creative writing element to their English Degrees?
The protest against the BestFresh is taking place in Sheffield’s Aung San Suu Kyi room. Aung San Suu Kyi is a Burmese politician and Nobel Peace Prize recipient. For 15 years she was one of the most famous political prisoners in the world, going on to win the country’s elections in 2015 and taking on the role of State Counsellor.
Should we all worry about agribusiness consolidation? Read this article I’ve not bothered to read, and find out!
Father John Misty is a very prolific musician who has been a member of several bands (including Fleet Foxes) and seems to release a new album every year.
Posca Pens are amazing: they can write on basically anything, and they have this big chunky vibrant quality to them which feels very striking and powerful. If you’re making a placard, they’re probably the pens to go for.
Schlager music is the kind of happy-go-lucky music you’d hear from someone like a Tony Christie, or Engelbert Humperdinck. Yeah, I’m bringing out the Engelbert here. I’m not a fan, and apparently the German version of the same is the reason why we got DJ Ötzi. Ugggghhhh.
Ingrid is disrespectful in the sort of blatant way where you feel like her actions are so on-the-nose that they’re some kind of performance you’re not aware of. She does something which is classically self-centred and then turns things quickly onto your own insecurities… so her initial disrespect feels like some kind of punishment rather than her just being a dick for no reason. It’s very calculated and coordinated?
I’m not sure that Dani is doing the best thing here by pushing Esther straight into being the centre of attention. I wonder if we’re meant to consider her as being kinda manipulative in the way she’s trying to aim Esther, here.
On the flipchart in the first panel is a list of various alternate plans for their protest, the first of which is “Jeff undresses”, which seems to be Esther’s suggestion. Again, the joke’s there, but also – Esther was the first person to make a suggestion. She’s setting herself into the centre of this group very quickly indeed.
Good lord, who is this person dressed in green? Mothballs and badges.
Dani’s response here indicates that she’s well aware Esther is getting distracted by hot boys rather than focusing on mindful protest.
I don’t think retailers usually look this calm as they read the previews catalogue.
The girl in the shop seems to be wearing a Steven Universe shirt. Max Sarin strikes again!
Speaking of clothes, is Esther’s outfit meant to be a reference to some famous image of protest in years gone by? I’m not caught up on my Jane Fonda photo catalogue, so I’m not sure if she’s designed to look like someone particular.
In fairness, Eamonn probably has a point. Is that too cynical? Maybe so. But complaining that you find protest inconvenient – as Ed also did before – isn’t particularly useful either, is it? Sitting on your hands isn’t going to change anything, and just because you’ve decided you’re fine with knowing you’re sitting on your hands and not changing things… doesn’t mean it’s a great decision for you to make?
Opprobrium! What a word. It means “harsh criticism”, although you probably already guessed that.
“One woke week later” says everything it needs to, I think. Esther’s jumped into this whole thing a little too hard. Once more, Daisy has unwittingly created a monster. Notice how Esther throws the carton into a bin rather than recycling it? She’s focused on one particular cause rather than having made a fuller understanding of why she’s making the chocies she’s making.
Daisy’s mug says “best mom” on it, however, which is true.
The cowering bug in the final panel of this page is my candidate for sensational character find of the year.
Bin juice is the gross liquid which forms outside the bin liner, and sometimes solidifies into a gross stain on the inside of your bin. Apparently it’s also a name given to rookie rugby players, who have just started playing the sport and haven’t graduated into being respected yet.
Ingrid’s mural is yet more blatant disrespect for everything: but more worrying is that she’s got a screwdriver to hand and also seems to have been disassembling parts of the house? Why is there a plank in the main room?
This scene reminds me of the protests that took place in London one morning where climate change protesters stood on top of a train taking workers into the city. They got pulled off the roof and beaten up, because what’s the point in speaking truth to power by disabling those who have no power within the system? Workers are doing their job because they have no choice if they want to help their families – surely protest should be aimed at the people who choose to force these decisions, rather than those who are compromised into helping with those decisions? I don’t read the comment section on these pieces.
Sure enough, here comes someone from the council – somebody with actual power, who should probably have been facing the protests rather than some poor construction workers.
They tried to build some supermarkets in my home town, but whenever planning permission was withdrawn, it was because the one supermarket which is already in place did the protesting. Didn’t want the competition, you see, and they had the money to force through their continued monopoly.
Is this our first confirmation of the existence of Leeds?! LEEDS MASSIVE!!
The Dremel is a multitool which can be used to do various things to, usually, wood.
Susan’s hair bunches up into tiny little devil horns when she’s mad. I don’t think it’s intended, but they DO.
McGraw is on very dangerous ground once more. Dean’s decision to go LARPing (live action role-playing – he’ll be dressed up and taking part in some kind of war simulation somewhere) is another opportunity for McGraw and Susan to push the boundaries of their “friendship”. Poor Emilia.
Joshua walks and talks the eco-friendly lifestyle, doesn’t he? Like we said earlier, Esther is passionate about a particular thing that’s in her direct line of sight, rather than taking in everything at once.
Nothing is more romantic than a partner who leaves the teabag in.
I don’t believe Ingrid’s biological knowledge is watertight.
Daisy is at the Buddhist Centre – did Esther find that out from Instagram? That doesn’t seem right. Oh! I guess she might have just texted her about it, phones can be used for texting people I guess.
Norovirus is a winter vomiting bug which usually goes away after a few days. It’s disgusting whilst you have it, though.
Oh Susan, no, you’re not a good enough actress to get away with this.
“There is no ethical consumption under capitalism”… so maybe you should just accept that and eat some quinoa fruit cups and stop thinking about it.
Giant Days #27
Written by John Allison
Drawn by Max Sarin
Inked by Liz Fleming
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.
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