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:

I understand that two-headed Esther is supposed to convey movement… but what if it didn’t and we just never addressed it?

I like Beard And Glasses’ Star Trek mug.

The Lawnmower Man is a 1992 Sci-fi action horror movie based on a short story by Stephen King except it’s not really, so Stephen King sued to have his name removed from the credits. The plot is way too convoluted to go into here but it involves futuristic cyber stuff and some casual rampaging. 

VR headset make Esther go bonk.

Page 2:

Ed Gemmell is back!

Scoliosis is a curvature of the spine, I don’t know when he means by a scoliosis house. Maybe nerds are more likely to suffer from it than the general population. None of this sounds right to me either but Ed said it. Take it up with him.

Page 3:

Esther is trying so hard to make this easy and Ed won’t even look at her. Bad Ed! No!

I like the touch from Max Sarin that when left alone Ed immediately rests his bad leg on the bed. That’s what we all do with our injuries! – Editor Steve.

Page 4:

Now Ed is trying to make me feel sorry for him with no regard for how I’m still busy being mad at him for being a stupid boy who can’t communicate.

It is kind of a small room to have a crisis in. 

Page 5:

What’s the deal with that big key? Why is it there? Why is it there? What does it mean??

Girls Aloud once sang that Love is the Key. That’s probably besides the point though.

Susan is iconic.

A craft nook sounds nice. I have become one with craft through our various lockdowns and furloughs and there is just wool and junk everywhere.

What does the forbidden talk of men consist of? Is it football stuff? Call of Duty strategy? Christopher Nolan movies? FEELINGS?

Page 6:

That is a nice nook and also the correct sentiments re: landlords.

Oh shit, it was feelings!

I’m not happy with the Giant Days team for revealing the purpose of our secret feelings nooks.

Huh in addition to the giant entryway key McGraw has a key tattoo, which I guess I’ve either never noticed or cared about until this exact moment. 

Ed Gemmell: confirmed mermaid f**ker.

Page 7: 

I have googled hailing skulls and I’m glad to report that it’s a Susan original and not an extremely cool phrase that I have just never heard.

Susan has a filthy mind. Does she not realise this is a Boom Studios comic?!

That… is worse and Susan is right to say it.

Page 8:

Susan is a big cat. A big angry cat. 

What a great location for an electric socket.

I agree that Ed doesn’t need more pity, but I’m not sure that what he needs is to feel like a man. A ride in a monster truck would be rad as hell though.

Yes, decorate his room. That could only go well. 

Page 9:

Before I go on a Harry Potter tangent, which I am going to do, I just want to remind everyone that JK Rowling is a terf. 

ANYWAY, this is very similar to how Daniel Radcliffe lived in Harry Potter 1. That’s the Philosopher’s Stone for UK People and the Sorcerer’s Stone for my friends in the US. And Ed is too old to go to Hogwarts – unless he got a job there as a teacher I suppose. 

Esther has kindly annotated the next point for me but for clarification Equus is a play by Peter Schaffer about a guy who likes horses a bit too much. Daniel Radcliffe did get very nude in it. No horses were traumatised in the making of this play.

I get it Susan, Daniel Radcliffe is cute and funny and weird and these are all excellent qualities. 

Ship’s cabin is certainly a theme. 

Page 10:

It is absolutely a violation of his space and you should never have gone in there in the first place. Who raised these kids, honestly. He does hate it though. Or at least what it represents (which is of course the perceived futility of his feelings for Esther).

Getting drunk and falling off a wall, or down some stairs, or out of a tree, or into a pond is pretty common. It’s weird that there’s not an official word for a beer wound.

Once again, Susan is correct. You cannot even i at the presence of beans if you do not intend to spill them. It’s basically illegal. 

They should have kissed. Ed’s ongoing pity party would be more understandable if they had kissed. 

Page 11: 

I would have told, but then I am trash. Also Ed definitely thinks that Esther has already told everyone what happened.

Page 12:

Smoking is bad for you. Don’t smoke kids. 

Listen Ed, I like you, and I get that Susan just blew smoke all in your face which I agree is super rude but do not get up in her face like that.

Moral of the story: COMMUNICATION

I feel like I should acknowledge ostrich-isation but I absolutely will not.

Page 13:

The gastrocnemius is the main muscle in the calf and not a made up word as I suspected.

Inverters are things you have around the ankle, helping you do… ankle things.

I don’t know if the strip kind of Wrigley’s gum still exists. It came in three not great flavours – spearmint, double mint, and juicy fruit – and it always got too wet and the flavour would go straight away. It was and may still be a terrible gum delivery system.

Hey everyone! It’s Nina, the Australian sports bro from the sports bro house.

Crook is Australian slang for ill, injured or broken. For example, Nina has a crook leg.

Page 14:

Nina is so brazen. I love her.

The cruciate ligaments are inside your knee. They cross over each other and connect the femur (the big bone in your thigh) to the tibia (your shin bone).

British Universities have a lot of balls. Like, a lot a lot. Freshers Ball, Graduation Ball, Summer Ball (ask me about that one some time), Colours ball, club and society balls, department balls: there are a lot of balls. Sometimes they coincide with awards ceremonies, but generally a ball is just a good reason to get dressed up and absolutely bollocksed in a slightly nicer venue than usual. So the rowing club ball would have been a ball hosted by the rowing club to celebrate their achievements and the end of another academic year. You can see everyone is looking a bit fancy. 

Just wanted to step in and annotate the annotations for our non-UK friends: “bollocksed” is a technical term which means “get absolutely plastered”. Does that… help?

The Queen’s Leg of beer is a British take on the German beer boot, which is a boot shaped glass that holds somewhere between 2 and 3.5 pints or 37 and 68oz. Beers of this nature are generally intended to be downed in one – which explains why she thought it would be a good idea to try and lift a dragon boat over her head.

A dragon boat is basically a long boat that is propelled by about 20 people who are called paddlers. A standard racing dragon boat weighs about 250kg or 550lbs. The current world record for the clean and jerk, which is the method I assume someone would use to lift a dragon boat over their head, is held by Lasha Talakhadze who lifted 264kg (582lb) in 2019 so what I’m saying is it’s doable. 

Page 15:

I can not explain this but I saw a video of a man scream at a candle until it went out so I guess there is evidence to suggest that screams are an untapped source of kinetic energy.

Heart eyes!

Again, spunk is Australian for a sexually attractive person and not, in this context, a synonym for jizz. 

Oh lord. Kelly, I didn’t censor you early enough in your early run as Head Annotator and now you’re too powerful to be censored.

Page 16:

Shut up Dean.

I think he’s been watching Westworld, given all this hat talk. 

Daisy no!

Page 17:

OK fine, Daisy yes. 

I find myself comforted by the presence of McGraw. The inclusion of a bff in bedroom decoration shenanigans makes it considerably less invasive. He also seems to have installed a window (and a shelving system) which is frankly incredible.

I think that’s a typo? Stella Mozgawa is the drummer of Warpaint, an indie rock band.

New wall colour is as reported non-repulsive, and I can confirm that the clown on the duvet cover is both large and dangerous. I don’t know if it’s a specific large and dangerous clown, because I only know Ronald McDonald, Killer Clowns from Outerspace, and the great clown Pagliacci – and as far as I am aware none of those are known to wield a chainsaw.

Page 18:

It’s a digital window! Absolute mad men!

Soldering builds character. It’ll put hair on your chest.

ACTUALLY, Aluminium is the most abundant element in the Earth’s crust. 

I’m lost. Me too.

Page 19:

That does explain the duvet cover.


Page 20:

Hey Ed, while I get the sentiment, Esther is a beautiful person not a thing and she was never something you could possess. Don’t be gross.

I don’t know what it is about pinball machines that makes them so alluring. I have never even played pinball and sometimes I sit around pricing them up on eBay. 

Esther probably shouldn’t have taken the big room but it’s really not the same is it?

Gotta love the paint fumes. You know you can get low odor paint now? The future, man.

Make up hugs!

Page 21:

Cutting in the queue and grave robbing are 100% equivalent. The most notorious contemporary case of grave robbing in the UK was committed in 2004 by a guinea pig-focused animal rights group. The more you know etc.

Why the ellipses Esther? What do you mean ~mature?

Page 22:

People have layers, Esther. There’s always more to them than what they have shown you. 

Imagine being as smooth as Susan in this moment.

*GASP* Ingrid!


Giant Days #40

Written by John Allison
Drawn by Max Sarin
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!