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
I have good news and bad news. The good news is that if you’re looking for a Jeff Goldblum shower curtain just like the girls have, well, you can find several of them on the internet for sale. The bad news is that I couldn’t find the exact one you can see here and the ones I could find are all out of stock.
Assuming Esther isn’t referring to an episode of Inside No 9 which I didn’t really like very much, the Harrowing usually refers to the time when Christ was sent down into Hell when he died. Which, pretty harsh. If I remember correctly he took all the sin in hell and ate it or something, and then there was no sin left anywhere. Because nobody had sin anymore they all went up to Heaven and so did Jesus – popping up on Earth for a few days to do a quick farewell tour just like David Tennant’s Doctor – and that’s why nowadays anybody can do anything they want without repercussions.
Carrie is a 1976 horror film which follows a young girl called Carrie who has telekinetic powers – but is also the subject to abuse from her horrifying mother and the other kids at school. At her Prom the other children plan to drop a bucket of pig’s blood on her… which doesn’t go well considering her trauma and superpowers.
It’s not clear why people would need to use a jug to wash themselves between the wars rather than during the wars, but Esther’s not in a great place so we’ll let it go.
Great shirt from Susan.
I do enjoy an efficient narrative box. “The landlord is summoned” and thus we are saved. You can tell that there are fantastical elements to this series because landlords never come when you ask them to and never even pretend they’re going to do anything to fix your property. I never met any of my landlords in person.
Just like Susan, I’m in a position where I look at a solution like this and all I can say is “cool cool”. Maybe that’s the right way of doing things? How is anybody expected to know things like this. Cool cool maybe that’s right then, okay, thanks.
Rubbing down the pipes also sounds just plausible enough to be something that’s real, but… I dunno. Cool cool, thanks landlord.
The cupboard under your stairs is a vital and useful part of your home and it’s irresponsible for the girls to not be using it. Where are you going to put your heater during the Summer? Where do you put your fan during Winter? Where does the ironing board go??
Daisy’s landing posture looks like something from a Jean-Claude Van Damme movie. That’ll kill your knees if you keep doing it, young lady.
The thinking bath includes actual melting candles (not just tea lights in a holder?!) a full English, a pot of tea, and a book which is called…. Elm for Disbalming? Christ knows. If you look carefully you can also just about see a potion of some kind in the far left corner.
Dean killed the coffee machine back in issue #20 after mistaking it for a smoothie maker and smooshing a bunch of old bananas into it.
Professional wrestling is a noble sport which traditionally has been owned operated and performed by the most evil men in the world. It’s getting better, sort of.
See how the newspaper is subtly guiding them? “Love yourself” “you are loved” – see the surreptitious ways the media is always trying to LIE TO YOU?!
McGraw has never lived with a woman before if he thinks he’ll have access to the bathroom whenever he wants.
This sense of the word beard refers to when somebody dates a member of the opposite sex as a way to throw people off the fact that they’re actually gay. Like when Elton John married a woman for a bit – publicly it made him look like he was heterosexual, but obviously he’s actually gay and the marriage wasn’t what either party needed. Here Daisy needs somebody who looks like they are trendy so she can fit in with other trendy people.
I like the smiley Jason Aaron-alike who runs the shop.
Which one is Onion?! This is going to drive me mad all day.
Chickpea pancakes? Oh god.
Dickon is the one with massive earlobes, which leaves three people who could be called Onion. We’re getting closer to cracking this mystery. This whole thing is my actual nightmare, by the way.
Here’s a recipe for how you make Peach Crisp, just in case you needed it.
This all seems awful but in fairness they do keep a clean kitchen.
Funko Pops! Bane of the comics industry, but also financial saviour of the comics industry. My local comics shop took out a wall of comics to replace them with Funko Pop toys – but then they made so much money off (presumably) selling Funko Pops that they then bought the shop next door and could reinstate the comics wall. That seems to be what’s going on here, going by the background work being put in by the shop owner throughout their conversation.
Little Lord Fauntleroy was the Harry Potter of the 1980s: a little boy dressed up in all the finery of establishment money. I don’t think he was the villain? I think he was a boy from relative poverty who falls into money and persuades everybody around him to be nicer and kinder. Something like that.
Oh no, poor Mika. Max Sarin tells the whole story immediately.
In some respects, if you don’t rent out the house then Mika won’t have the money to go back to Finland and find a way to repair his life. Sooooo morally they have to take advantage of his pain and rent out the property?
Finland is routinely named as the happiest country on Earth, because they have things the UK can only dream of like human rights. Mika will probably benefit from spending more time there.
Is it great to have a sauna? It sounds good but think of having to clean all the… fluids out of it. Ugh. Sweat stains everywhere – and don’t even get me started on the heating bills! Nope, nope.
The hyperloop looks very similar to the Tube Transport system which they have in the TV show Futurama. It does seem to be the next logical step for Sheffield’s infrastructure planning.
Daisy’s trick of yogo levitating may seem strange, but she’s actually demonstrated it in the past – way back in the original John Allison Giant Days comics which he self-published about a decade or so ago. If you want to learn more about that era, catch up with Claire Napier’s guides!
If somebody ever asks you to pull their finger, you should definitely do it.
Just like with disembowlled Ed from last month, Max Sarin proves that they’re able to get some truly disturbing imagery into a comic series which you’d think would be all sweetness and light. Jim Campbell’s lettering quickly becomes nightmarish, too.
Pipes? Spiders? I think we can all tell what Esther’s dreams are actually about. It’s a very clever trick to put in a strange and disorientating dream sequence where you can actually work out why somebody is dreaming those particular things, isn’t it?
I feel genuinely upset for Ed here.
And OF COURSE Dean is somebody who washes down his takeaway pizza with a carton of coconut water. What an actual monster he is, unthinkable.
Fare thee well, sweet coffee machine. May your next journey be restful.
The counterbalance of Ed’s resigned and upset posture against Esther’s bright and bouncy interest makes for a fascinating balance across the course of the page. Esther is strident and bold in her poses, which are exaggerated and sily – just look how big her eyes get – and that matches the way Ed seems to shrink back into the wall.
Another effective narrative box, delivered in that classic Campbell style.
Esther is so upset she’s had to put her pyjamas on – or Susan preemptively warned her to. Wise and comforting. This brings up something which people were wondering about at the time the comic was put out: Susan is a medical student, whereas the other two girls are doing three-year courses and will leave University before she does. So in that respect you can also see that Susan has to think more about the future than the other two: if she sticks with them for a third year, she’s going to screw over her fourth year options.
All Tomorrow’s Parties was a London-based music festival which ran until very recently in 2016, when financial difficulties ended the festival permanantly. It focused on alternative and indie music and seemed to be a favourite for members of the comics scene – the name is referenced in The Authority, The Invisibles, and Matt Fraction’s first issue of Uncanny X-Men.
I honestly really hate Ingrid. It’s hard to read some of these pages because I just want to grab a piece of paper and crumple it up into an anger ball. She acts like she knows Susan and McGraw better than Daisy does and then storms off immediately when she isn’t getting her way – she’s not willing to actually talk to Daisy about things, and instead wants to go off in a huff as soon as she gets the least bit of resistance.
Ingrid has a Jack Skellington skateboard, taken from The Nightmare Before Christmas.
Daisy – the only one who seemed to really be sympathetic towards Mika in the episode – is also the only one to have taken in anything he said. She seems to be mistaking “I did not compromise” for “sacrifice everything to please your partner”.
Daisy seems to be having a great time at dinner. Another understated but simple way to convey her mood right now, without having to draw any attention to it. It also shows her separation from the other two right now: she might have mae a peace back with them, but she’s still very much distanced by them because of Ingrid.
This scene is pure fantasy. Landlords like Sandy don’t exist!
The girls still have their neighbour’s stuffed animals on display in the kitchen. Looks like that one is a pretty angry squirrel?
From this conversation it seems like Daisy has told the others that she’s going to be moving out to live with Ingrid, as well? Oh dear, Daisy, please reconsider…!
Giant Days #32
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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