By Kelly Richards

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, provided by our Head Annotator Kelly Richards!


Page 1:

This is already better than anything that happened in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.

Disrespectful to Cate Blanchett IMO – Editor Steve.

Page 2:

Horny priestess! Look, Daisy is technically right but that doesn’t mean she shouldn’t lean into the fantasy a little bit. She’s too young to give up on the potential of horny priestess catacomb adventures. 

Why is Esther dressed like a flight attendant?

There is nothing wrong with working in retail Esther. It’s hard work, it pays the bills, and sometimes you get the good luck of being flashed or threatened at knife point. I wish I was joking… be kind to your local retail staff, kids!

University really does set you up to believe that you will be catapulted into your dream career directly from graduation

If you have never been to one, a graduate job fair is sort of like a comic convention except it’s full of dead eyed corporate shills who have nothing but branded pens and stress balls to offer in exchange for your eternal soul. I think they may actually be the world’s greatest source of branded pens and stress balls.

So the only difference is the stress balls?

Page 3:

See what I mean about it being kind of like a comic convention? And do you see all the free pens?

Excellent Rhinestone Cowboy reference there. Rhinestone Cowboy was a big hit for the multi talented Glen Campbell in 1975, it won a bunch of awards and everything. 

Page 4:

I’m sure Daisy means she’s going to a CV clinic. 

Do you think Daisy is confusing videos of cats, people failing over and/or episodes of buzzfeed unsolved for videos of how to succeed because if not I just can’t relate.

Page 5:

Dangerous magical thinking is the only thing keeping me going anymore.


This conversation reminds me of Jean Grey and Cyclops for some reason

Page 6:

A boy’s sewing machine is just a sewing machine. This machine is a lathe. It spins wood really fast. I think I would like to use a lathe. 

I too would like to know what kind of odd jobs McGraw is imagining.

Page 7:

I see.

Wait, do we know what McGraw actually wants to do? I know he’s studying engineering… but what’s his goal? 

I like that he takes his goggles off as he accepts reality. Beer goggles are one thing, but those lathe goggles were really distorting his perception!

Page 8:

Is that the correct answer? Is that the sort of thing you learn from “how to succeed” youtube videos? I have conducted numerous interviews and I didn’t know that that’s how you’re supposed to answer!

Kell, did you know that the ball bearings industry is projected to reach a value of US$ 44.5 Billion by 2024? And that I’ve been single for many many years?

Page 9:

Esther is correct. The world of work is saying that you’re passionate about things that no one in their right mind could be passionate about. For example; data management, spreadsheets, representing the brand, and providing exemplary customer service. 

Daisy’s sigma pupils is a good choice. 

Page 10:

Letterpress is a printing method by which individual letters are arranged in a frame and inked before paper is pressed onto it. It’s time consuming as heck but it’s dead fancy. 

Look! It’s the CV clinic! Although still called the resume clinic in the script…

GSM or grams per square metre is how we measure the weight and therefore the quality of paper. Generally a higher weight means a higher quality. Printer paper, for example, is usually about 80GSM, whereas the sort of headed paper you would expect to receive from a business would be around 130GSM. Isn’t it great when I get to put that entire degree I have in graphic design to use?

I don’t know what Daisy means by the corporate equivalent of termites but it sounds super cool.

Page 11:

Attention readers! Esther’s skirt has pockets. 

Oh no, it’s time for a lesson in identifying your transferable skills. But… we’re comics bloggers! Oh no!!!

Page 12:

I don’t understand why we have to work from 9 to 5. Not all of us have kids! Why do we have to follow the rules just because of parents?


Page 13:

Susan getting at those free pens!

This issue is speaking deep truths and giving me weird undergrad flashbacks that are making me a bit emotional. 

I looked into the Balling (Hydrometer Scale) gag and it has something to do with measuring alcohol content in brewing… maybe? I’m not really sure. Google it if you’re really that interested, NERDS

Page 14:

Those Youtube videos are really paying off.

I very much enjoy Daisy’s visible annoyance at the eagerness of recruiters.

Page 15:

The Octagon Centre is a multi purpose conference centre and music venue at the University of Sheffield and it looks just like that.

There is more to life than corporate graduate schemes. Square pegs unite!

I think Esther might be referring to Mushroom Management theory here which suggests that in order to keep employees in line managers need to treat them like mushrooms i.e. keep them in the dark and feed them shit. I know that keeping them in the dark part means not telling them things that they don’t need to know, but I like to think that it also refers to the way that most standard office jobs will prevent you from seeing the sun at any point during the winter. It’ll be dark in the morning when you get there, and it’ll be dark again when you leave.

Page 16:

Why do all these medical students look like they’re alert and happy?

Is Esther about to get kidnapped by the corporate equivalent of the little puppet fella from Saw?

Page 17:

Everything about this exchange is so menacing. I can’t explain why. It just is.

Is moat marketing a thing? Do moats need marketing? Ask the Tories, they’re the ones who keep charging us for them.

Page 18:

Vapourware is a product that is announced to the public but is never actually manufactured. You may have encountered some on kickstarter.

Susan is a good and powerful friend.

I’d get out of bed for £35K! Which bed would you like me to get out of?! I am available!!

I hope Daisy doesn’t go work for military avionics. She’s better than that. This one is quite clearly a reference to Northrop Grumman, the company Marvel got into bed for. I wonder if they got £35K?

Page 19:

I need Susan to negotiate my contract. 

Military bro fist bump.

Page 20:

A liquid lunch is when you replace all of your lunch time food groups with booze.

McGraw is so wise. If you are a young person (or an old person) you should listen to McGraw. You don’t need to know what you want to do with your whole entire life when you are 21 and finishing up your undergrad (or in my case 33 and finishing up my PHD – please someone help me). 

The novelty of unpredictable hours wears off so fast. 

I wonder when the novelty of international murders wears off.

Page 21:

Yeah Daisy!

A masters degree is a typically a year long course that allows you to specialise your area of study and its such a solid choice, especially if you have no particular plans. I did it!

Oh god, that’s romantic. STOP!

And that’s 100% the correct response from Susan.

Page 22:

Lewes is a town in East Sussex. Lewes Castle, where Ed Gemmell does not actually live, was originally called Bray Castle and it was built in the 11th century. Castles are awesome.

Ed’s mum is so cute. I bet she makes really great cups of tea and gives excellent hugs.

Hivemind please help identify the models on the shelf and the plushy on the floor. Thanks!

Ed Gemmell I can not believe that you are leaving Esther on read like some kind of Lad™, you are a good boy and I won’t stand for this.


Giant Days #39

Written by John Allison
Drawn by Julia Madrigal
Coloured by Whitney Cogar
Lettered by Jim Campbell


Kelly Richards is an Eisner-winning critic who has written for sites including WomenWriteAboutComics and Sidequest. You can find more of their thoughts over on Twitter here! 


This post was made possible thanks to the Shelfdust Patreon! To find out more, head to our Patreon page here!