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

Ohh Valentine’s, the day we celebrate everyone’s favourite patron saint of lovers, beekeepers, plague, epilepsy, and not fainting by exchanging terrible gifts!

Daisy looks especially happy about proceedings, I suppose I agree. Don’t get me wrong, I love love, but Valentine’s is a lot of nothing. Plus I used to work for a well known chain of highstreet stationers and they put out their Valentine’s Day stock on Boxing Day, which for those who do not celebrate is the day directly after Christmas Day. 

There is a card on the spinner, directly underneath Daisy’s speech balloon in the second panel that I originally thought was two penises in love. I have been informed that it’s probably two dachshunds in love but I’m not sure.

Page 2

Valembrines is a pretty good alternative to be honest. 

While I agree with Daisy’s conclusion that it’s hogwash horse hockey, or in regular human english nonsense… bullshit, I don’t think it’s designed to remind singles that they are bad at love. I don’t think it considers singles at all. Singles are beneath the amorous gaze of Valembrine.

You should love yourself figuratively and physically!

Page 3

A roll in the hay is an old timey euphemism for sex.

A garret is a sort of small sad attic room. So I’m not sure what sort of lonely hearts – Mrs Rochester maybe? She lived in the attic. 

Esther getting carried away with a metaphor is something I can relate to. Also, that’s a sick love rocket.

Boots the chemist is a wonderful highstreet pharmacy and beauty retailer. Every child, when they come of age, is granted a Boots card with which they can earn 4 points for every pound they spend. Every point is worth a penny so if you are diligent, by time Christmas rolls around you will have saved enough points to buy gifts for all the people who you only really tolerate at holidays in their 3 for 2 offer.

Frizz-ease is a hair serum made by John Frieda, a British celebrity hairdresser. I don’t think he actually owns the company anymore but his name is still on the bottle. Anyway, it’s pretty good.

Page 4

I don’t like these smug bozos or their romance police schtick.

CRISPR stands for clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats and its some kind of gene editing science thing. 

I’m sure Susan is very unhappy but I don’t understand why that has led to her talking in the third person. Did they gene edit her to talk wrong?

Page 5

I refuse to believe that Susan is only just now finding out that she is not particularly romantically inclined. [But she is physically inclined thanks to that hill she’s climbing! Woo! – editor]

I love it when Esther is extra dramatic. 

Susan, you can not sulk at being mocked and then suggest Esther seeks out a borderline suitable mate.

Oh wow, is that a Doro? Doro’s are designed specifically for people with mobility issues and disabilities but they are sort of marketed toward old people who like to yell about new fangled technology. Anyway they have all sorts of cool accessible features like bigger buttons, and brighter screens, and an assistance button that you can use to alert your family or carers if you’re having trouble. 

Carpal tunnel is a nerve compression issue, if you don’t get it treated properly you can get permanent nerve damage and then your hand will fall off or something. I don’t know, I’m not a doctor.

We don’t give fire an alarm rating in the UK. I’m going to assume it’s out of five, so a five alarm fire is either a really excellent fire or a really bad one. Esther makes me think it is a bad one but I suppose a bad one could also be an excellent one depending on how much stuff you’re trying to get burned.

Page 6

Esther holds herself differently when it’s just her and McGraw. It’s as if she drops her Esther branded facade and can just quietly be. It’s good to have friends who don’t expect you to be on all of the time. 

Dip or dippy means a person is a bit silly and strange.

It is funny that we let 16 years make adult decisions but that has no bearing on whether or not I personally would let a monkey drive a commuter train. Answer the question Kelly!!

Page 7

An apex predator you say? Like the viper Randy Orton?

Page 8

Clannad are an Irish folk band from the 80’s. It’s where Enya got her start, Daisy doesn’t stray far from her first love.

Saffy has such powerful, commanding eyebrows.

Jacksie means bum, and it sits roughly half way along the butt to arse scale of rudeness. You know what it means to be a pain in the arse.

A nice person would not be running a pop up karaoke bar from their bedroom. However, there are worse things than Rihanna that they could be singing.

Page 9

Daisy’s shirt is a crime IMO.

These are mean girl tactics. Coralie is a mean girl! 

Page 10

I don’t know what this man is saying but he’s cute.

Same, Esther. Same.

Page 11

Oh she’s going to that place! Watch out, watch out! OUT OF NOWHERE!

Page 12

A dumb phone? Do we call not-smart phones “dumb phones”? I can’t believe this is a thing and I hate it. You’re a dumb phone.

Now I might just be prejudiced against tech bros – yes even cute ones, I’m not a complete sell out – but harnessing tech for good sounds suspicious at best.

Twitter actually owns the patent to pull to refresh. It was granted in 2013 and so far they have said they won’t enforce it so I think right now Richard Owen is more evil than Twitter. Esther sure knows how to pick them.

Page 13

Croesus was the King of Lydia in 560 BCE and sadly not a cross between Jesus and croissant.

Is it evil Richard? You are the one cashing in on it.

A moon farm does sound cool but how about we put that money towards reducing all the earth inequality first? People first, then hedgehogs, then the moon farm if there’s time.

I do not believe that Esther has heard a single word he’s said since she imagined “croissant Jesus” and I understand.

Page 14

I would not be going anywhere with someone who wouldn’t tell me why I needed a helmet.

Sheffield of course is well known for its wolf population. An anti wolf candle is like a mosquito candle except it smells like things that wolves hate. According to google they hate fire so I guess it would need to smell smoky. I also learned that they can’t climb trees, but that probably won’t help. 

Of course Richard’s been to Nepal. 

Page 15

I hope this isn’t her most romantic Valembrines.

The Don Valley is part of Sheffield. It used to have their football stadium, but since it got shut down in 2013 I have no idea what they do down there nowadays.

On a promise means sex! Esther, as a result of whatever air sport this is, is planning a sex.

No Esther, this is weird and he’s a wrongun and you do not want to tech baby. I will not allow you to be Grimes’d! You could probably live in a castle though.

Page 16

Is it very Frank Lloyd Wright-y. It’s a bit like that one that was dismantled and moved somewhere else because the new owners didn’t like the location. Richard did you dismantle a Frank Lloyd Wright?

A castle and a life free of Dean Thompson, imagine.

Page 17

Esther is so good at this.

I don’t completely understand what a hyperloop is but I think it’s like those tubes that the cashiers at supermarkets put the money up. Except it’s for people. From what I do understand, it’s not Great. 

I think it’s a massive underground loop-the-loop where you launch people up and then the momentum on the way down takes them to Chicago without needing to use petrol.

For the record, I would have made him hairier. 

What an ultimatum!

Page 18

OK… that thing that Esther said about assassins… that is nonsense.

He is the same man who patented and enforced pull down to refresh!

Girl knows how to make a dramatic exit. And she stole his parachute thing.

Page 19

100% love the inclusion of tiny parachute Esther in the first panel.

It’s incredibly unsettling when someone doesn’t blink. It’s considered a way of asserting dominance through trust and it’s working on Daisy but I don’t have the good breeding that would prevent me pointing it out.

Does this girl only listen to Rihanna? You got a problem with that, Richards?

Page 20

To wind your neck in means to quiet down.

Poor Coralie has never been told no in her life has she? 

Bouff is short for bouffant which is long for hair: of which Daisy has a lot. Probably more than her fair share to be honest.

Esther’s big sad watery eyes break my heart. This should be illegal.

Page 21

Susan is like a little grumpy cat.

Remedial class is where they send the children who are underperforming academically or in Susan’s case, artistically but what’s important is that she tried!

True love is a cheap card and a bag of charcoal briquettes from the petrol station.

Brisk means active and energetic. So that’s nice for them.

Page 22

OH NO. Coralie got Grimes’d!

Giant Days #44

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!