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

Dinner parties are extremely civilised. I think it’s because you’re expected to dress up fancy. If you all just sat around eating dinner in pajamas no one would call that a dinner party would they? That’s just having some people over for food.

A creme caramel is a delicious custardy treat that is sometimes called flan or caramel custard. You may remember it from the Custard microgame in 2004’s Nintendo DS hit WarioWare: Touched! Smack that pudding! [I cannot find a video proving that this microgame exists, Kelly may have gone rogue here – Editor]

Whitby is not so much Dracula’s home as the scene of a series of unfortunate events that eventually ruin his first big holiday in centuries.

Page 2 

I would never call Nina a liar so I will not comment further on this page.

Ok… I will comment., but only to say that snags is Australian for sausage and that while 47 is an impressive number Ed is still a ways off of Joey Chestnut’s (world) record of 75.

Page 3

You may recall that Nina broke her leg during a drunken attempt to lift a dragon boat over her head. Ed on the other hand broke his ankles during a drunken love confession in which he fell off a wall. 

What is physiotherapy if not the cutest meet?

If you didn’t  want to be civilised you shouldn’t have put the fancy dress on. A lesson for the future.

Delightfully smug McGraw.

Page 4 

Susan makes both a compelling argument and venn diagram.

Nina’s not just into sports, she’s into university sports. The most competitive, life consuming, brain-addling kind of sports that exist.

“Pish”, “posh”, “tish” and “tosh” in any arrangement are old timey English grandad speak for “nonsense”.

Page 5

Sarsaparilla is a soft drink. A bit like root beer. It kind of tastes like vanilla-y mint and I’m fairly certain I have never seen it for sale in the UK. Maybe she can pick up a dandelion and burdock instead.

He is a good boy.

I don’t know boat references. Apologies.

Page 6

I also don’t know about cars but can confirm that that is what they look like. Putting suds over some of the difficult bits is a smart move from Sarin. This is why they’re top of their game!

Proton according to the internet is a Malaysian brand and ‘Proton’ is a Malay acronym for Perusahaan Otomobil Nasional (National Automobile Company).

Daisy has just described the interior of my nan and gramps’ car. Those beaded seat covers, my god.

Page 7

Frankly I feel the same way as Daisy, and the handful of driving lessons I did have usually ended with the instructor shouting and me crying so the less said about that the better. Daisy should do the same thing as me and put all her effort into being cute because then people will want to drive you places.

No one passes with ten lessons anymore because it’s become important that the instructors bleed you dry first. I could’ve bought a car with the money I spent on learning to drive a car.

Page 8

By total class, Esther is exclaiming that she thinks her picture is very cool. I like that Esther is taking the initiative and putting together some sketches. I’m not sure more skulls is the correct direction though. 

Do we know the names of the other boys who live in this house?

I’m surprised that everyone didn’t come armed with their bed weapon. People have bed weapons right? The weapon you keep by your bed. For intruders, etc.

Page 9

My guess would have been poltergeist. Maybe a demon. 

At no point does Esther consider the wolves to be anything but adorable fun.

Would an oculus rift fit on a wolf head? 

You know I haven’t had an opportunity to talk about how much I dislike Dean of late so its nice to see him back to his slimy ways. 

A hero for hire? Dean’s not exactly Luke Cage, is he?

Page 10

Oh a big drunk Angel. Did she come in through the window or just break it on her sandwich mission?

Okay for a start, NERDS! But secondly, why are they talking about her like some kind of escaped rhino that they need to take down?

Correct, Esther. John Allison has always had an affection for She-Hulk and it’s madness that it hasn’t been indulged more. 

Page 11

I love Nina and I love the chaos that follows a drunk person trying to be quiet.

That is no way to care for your drunk girlfriend. Take off her shoes! And her jeans if you think you can manage it. If not, you’re going to need to try and empty out her pockets because it’s bad enough waking up in jeans without having spent the night being slowly skewered on your keys. Get some water too, and whatever you have the passes for a sick bucket. You’ll thank me in the morning.

I do not actually want Susan to get to say, or even think, I told you so. 

Page 12

I know that the rules are no sympathy for self inflicted but look at her little face!

Ed really could have just flipped her on her side and slept next to her. But then again he also could have taken her shoes off.

Page 13

The sneaking and the post destruction clean-up. I’m glad that she is cleaning up but she is also sneaking off before anyone wakes up and I have a suspicion that this is not the first time she has done this. 

Page 14

What does it represent, Todd? Don’t leave me hanging. I need to know the significance of the sports Christmas tree. 

Ed looks a little worse for wear. Kids these days. No stamina. All he did was sleep in a chair.

Grog is an olde timey pirate word for alcohol so you could say that yes, Nina is most definitely back on the grog.

So the trail of destruction isn’t a fun new thing she’s trying out, it’s her general state of being, which to be honest isn’t great – however putting her room near the door is such a solid system. I am extremely impressed. 

Page 15

Everything about this exchange makes me weirdly uncomfortable. Nina’s obvious shame, Ed as the arbiter of forgiveness. Have I forgotten a previous deep conversation about Nina’s drinking habits? 

Page 16

Abstemious is an incredible word that means to indulge only very moderately.

Susan is wearing a shirt that says “no”, which we should take as a sign of rebellion after being forced to host a dinner party.

Is everybody else as uncomfortable as I am? McGraw has been driven to drink so I assume he also feels profoundly uneasy about Ed’s role in this relationship.

Page 17

Yes Ed, that’s why people in pubs chant your name. Definitely won’t be because she’s doing something stupid, dangerous, or both.

Both, excellent.

So Nina has a drinking problem and it looks like it’s that specific kind of problem where the people who are supposed to be your friends work to get you extra drunk because it’s fun for them to watch you climb the ziggurat, for example, and it’s fun for you to hear everyone chant your name.

Page 18

Minesweeping is when you go around the bar/pub/club swiping peoples forgotten drinks and dregs. It’s disgusting. 

Oh no. 

I don’t like any of this.

The guy filming on his phone is a nice artistic touch. 

The thing is, if Nina was a boy this is the kind of behaviour that would live in infamy. She would be a legend. People would try to recreate the ziggurat/minesweeper combo. Nina, however, is not a boy, she is just a messy drunk and people will be talking about her in the group chat tomorrow. 

Page 19

Not just messy, mean too.

If you look closely you can actually pinpoint the exact moment when his heart breaks.

What do you think he’s got in that big tube?

Why would there be a wolf sobbing in there Esther? Why? How? Explain yourself.

Page 20

An ugly crier. We are all weak to an ugly crier. 

It’s good that she recognises that she has a problem and it’s even better that Esther is able and willing to signpost her toward people who can help.

Page 21

This page won’t load. This is not a joke. I can not access this page.


Esther shuts down Ed’s plans to dump Nina immediately, which is a huge shift from her previous minor crush on Ed. Has Esther… grown more than any other character in this series?

A booze sump is a pump which filters up all the alcohol in a factory so it doesn’t flood. It’s quite a mean thing for Ed to say.

Page 22

I appreciate Esther’s growth as a character, as a person. She was in love with Ed, and maybe she still loves him in a way, and she could very easily take advantage of this situation but she doesn’t. 

I also appreciate that we take this moment to remember that Nina is more than a drinking problem. 

Page 23

The civilisation of Susan Ptolemy almost makes me as uncomfortable as the mid issue relationship talk avoidance. 

Sin City envelops Susan, as we all knew it would if she were forced to pipe buns for too long. 

See, this is what happens when you try to domesticate a feral creature, they go all Rorschach on you. Is that what you want? Another Rorschach? That’s what DC’s marketing keep telling me, Kell, so…..


Giant Days #45

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!