By Steve Morris
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 Immortal Editorial Annotator Steve Morris!
The WPS button on a router is typically the button which says “WPS” on it. When parents call you to ask for help with their computer, they don’t really need help with their computer – everything is all there. My opinion is that what they really want is to see their child succeed at something confusing and complicated, thus affirming the good job they’ve done.
Spurt is not a real drink in the UK, just in case you were wondering! I probably would drink it if it existed, though.
A previous-unseen friendship group for McGraw! He’s part of a university cricket team.
You may be wondering why these sports stars, these athletic few, are having beers and fried fish the night before their match. The answer is simple: cricket is bloody easy and you barely have to do anything. If your side is batting, you could spend an entire day asleep in the lodge and nobody would mind.
Nominative determinism is the idea that certain people are drawn to, and talented at, various pursuits because they have a name which suggests they should be. Usain Bolt, for example, is the fastest man on Earth, that sort of thing. Carl Jung coined the term, on what had to have been an off-day.
Look how sharp those collars are. They’re using some kind of advanced Daz here, which us poors can only dream of.
That fish supper isn’t sitting right, you say?
Why do they have a disturbing clown above the bed, Susan?
I hate pork pies. Just saying.
A popinjay is a type of parrot, and the basis for a fairly old fashioned insult here. McGraw means to suggest that they’re dressed up all fancy all the time and are vain for doing so. I don’t know what the parrots ever did to be characterised so.
“A piece of piss” means that something is really easy, a doddle. Something which takes very little effort – like peeing!
Tammy Wynette was known as the first woman of country music, best known for her song “Stand By Your Man”. Her second best-known song was “D.I.V.O.R.C.E.”, so don’t take her as somebody who’ll just let her husband get away with anything.
There are eleven players on a cricket team – so far they have four. Seven to go!
Australia is indeed a cricketing nation. It’s why it was such an inspired idea for the UK Government to hire a retired English cricketer to be our new trade ambassador with the Aussies. Just what they’ll want to see. They love English cricketers.
P.E. is “physical education”, mandated hours of physical exercise as part of school. Things like dodgeball, cross country, that sort of thing.
India is also a cricketing nation, but Susan is profiling here.
This Spurt drink is sounding more and more delicious all the time.
Great outfit choices here, especially Daisy cracking out an Enya “sail Away” shirt. Note how Susan’s pal just so happens to have a spotless cricket shirt with him. We see you! I simply do not remember what your name is, soz pal.
First McGraw, and now Saffy. We now know the way to Susan’s heart: eyebrows.
Rex is showing that indefatigable British fighting spirit.
These are the rules of cricket, explained expertly, so I do not have to. Susan actually does a really good job of things here – she’s been half paying attention this whole time!
The coin toss actually matters in cricket, unlike other sports. Depending on the weather, it could be an advantage to bat first or bowl first – for example, do you want all eleven of your players stood in the pouring rain all day when you could instead have them go out two at a time? There’s also psychology – if you bat first and get a good score, then the other team now have the added pressure of trying to reach it. So losing the toss… not great.
Paul seems to have taken Susan’s explanation a little too close to heart.
Paul is caught out before scoring, and Rex trips backwards into the wicket, knocking off the stumps. Two players out with no score. Typically a cricket team puts all their best batsmen in first, and as time goes on the batting gets slightly worse – so not great to have two of their “better” players out already.
“Skip”: McGraw is the team captain, or “Skipper”.
Always fear a sportsplayer wearing blue sunglasses.
Nina and McGraw have started scoring runs, which gets them off the board. The other team are within their rights to bowl the ball at Nina’s body, but it’s not very sporting. Again, the stumps are knocked off the wicket, so Nina is out, having scored 20 runs.
Susan may not understand the game, but she does understand the important of psyching out her competition. Cricket is particularly famous for players trying to rile each other up and ruin the flow of play, and Susan’s the woman you need for head games.
However: Susan does not understand the game, so she’s bowled out for 7.
Esther’s dramatic outfit reveal makes very little sense, as it includes ripping off the leg protectors she was wearing. That cricket ball is HARD, Esther! You need more layers!
Esther has taken an anime-inspired approach to cricket. It does not go well.
However: she may have been a sacrifice for her team. She scored only one run, but she’s tired out the superstar bowler, who has to swap out for someone else. An old rope-a-dope!!
Daisy’s in, and her savant abilities with ball games help once again. We’ve seen her demolish other people at snooker several times in previous issues, remember. Max Sarin shows a neat difference between McGraw’s side-on, “proper” stance at the bat and Daisy hitting anything however she wants.
McGraw scores a century, which means he must take off his helmet and raise his bat in triumph.
Daisy, no! Do not fall foul to that bewitching bowler!
Elegant devastation from the artistic team. Cricket seems a lot more interesting here than it is in real life, right? Particular shout-out to letterer Jim Campbell, who scatters Daisy’s random poetic thought across the panels at a distance from each other, showing how zoomed out she is whilst the foxy bowler is going full-speed.
With Daisy’s fall comes the traditional batting collapse, which any fan of English cricket in particular will recognise. The later on you come in to bat, the worse you’re expected to be, and these lads all show why they were picked last for P.E. At least Ed gets a run out of it.
Little bit of a hint here – Saffy refers to Daisy as “senpai”, which can either mean somebody you want to respect and like you… or someone you want to like like you. Is Daisy aware??
Very much enjoying the “run run run” sound effects on this panel, and the image of Saffy smashing the ball THROUGH a six. This is the highest score you can get on a single hit – if you hit the ball so hard it flies out of the playing field without touching the ground, you score a six. If you hit the ball, it runs along the ground, and then goes out of the ground, you score a four. Just so nobody can say I’ve not been comprehensive!
Just as Icarus flew too close to the sun and melted his wings, so Saffy has been a victim of her own success. Ouch.
And so that ends the batting for their team! McGraw is the last man standing, with a faintly respectable score of “205 all out”. McGraw is very negative, but 205 isn’t a bad score at all, really.
Why is Esther wearing a “Pan Am” shirt, referring to a defunct airline from 1991? I do not know. Commenters ASSEMBBLLLEEEE!
Partway through the rival’s batting, and their first payer has been caught out by McGraw. The other two seem to be pretty industrious, with a tidy little partnership of 71 together.
“Spitting feathers” usually means that you’re angry, or that you’re thirsty? I think in Australia they call it “spitting chips”, so not quite sure why Nina’s come out with that one.
Even McGraw is using Susan’s terminology now. She’s such an entrepreneur.
Diving catch! Impressive.
Just as English sports fans are used to seeing a batting collapse, a hamstring injury is one of the most notorious (and commonly-seen) injuries in any sport. It can affect you forever.
And Daisy takes out three players almost in a row. One of them is caught out by Ed! Not just hiding on the boundaries of the field, Ed, well done.
I don’t think you understand what Nina means by “do you want a go”, Daisy.
Daisy is bowling underarm! Good lord, get yourself together!
Rex recites Psalm 23 as he marches towards his inexorable fate. Putting all your faith in the lord is not a standard tactic within cricket, and here we see why. Got a result, though!
This is what’s known in the sport as “a plob ball”. Possibly.
So the rival team are now on 202 runs with seven players out. If they score four more runs, then they win – the fielding team, on the other hand, need to get three more players out. It’s a very unlikely situation!
As predicted, Ed and Dean are hiding at the end of the field. This was a common tactic amongst us non-sporty kids at school. I came from a rugby school! I made sure I was picked by the better team every time, so I could pretend I was their defender and could hide at the end of the field where nobody else was.
Paul gets a star in his eye just like Cable! I… don’t think that was the annotation I was supposed to make, was it?
Shipping Paul and Esther so hard right now. Esther’s advice makes so little sense but she means Every. Single. Word.
An LBW! Or “leg before wicket”. If the ball hits your leg, and the umpire decides that the ball would’ve hit the wickets if it hadn’t been illegally blocked by said leg, then you’re out. Bye Pollard!
And two straight wickets for the two remaining players! Our heroes win by a single run! This is just like a sports Manga, although the two rival captains don’t appear to be deeply in love with each other.
Love the image of Nina swooping Ed as she kisses him.
McGraw was the only player not to get “out” on his side, and then he was in the field for the entire second half, so he’s not had a spare moment to check his phone. Nice attention to detail there.
Giant Days #50
Written by John Allison
Art by Max Sarin
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.
This post was made possible thanks to the Shelfdust Patreon! To find out more, head to our Patreon page here!
Not only was McGraw not out, he was not out for 111, a score known as “Nelson”, for reasons we need not consider here, and held as a bad portent in cricket, particularly in England. The well-known vampire, uh, umpire, David Shepherd, took his superstition about this to the point where he would not stand on two feet while there was a “Nelson” on the scoreboard. I think we can take this score as foreshadowing the tragedy that is to come.
“I think I recognise her”, says Daisy (p.11), and Esther writes this off as mere attraction for the rival team’s ringer. But who is that celebrity endorsing Spurt sports drinks in the adverts on pages 1 and 7? Could it be… “Jessie Lyles”?
This one was too obvious to include among the serious annotations, but I’ll just mention that “I’m only human. Born to make mistakes” on page 23 is from the Human League’s hit single “Human”. If you haven’t heard this slice of over-produced, lucky you! And I say that as a Human League fan!