By Matt Lune
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 Guest Annotator Matt Lune!
Clannad are an Irish band from the 70s, whose genre over the years spanned Folk, Folk-Rock, New-Age and Traditional Irish. Susan’s exclamation “for the love of Robin, the Hooded Man” is a reference to a Clannad song of the same name about – you guessed it – Robin Hood. It apparently captured the spirit of the English legend so much that it was used as the theme tune for the 1984 ITV drama Robin of Sherwood.
I love how Susan and, by extension, Esther, have become the parents in this scenario to Daisy’s very fragile child figure. Uni days were always fun for everyone except the one who has to be the parent/designated driver/person who has to say no to jumping out of the first floor dorm windows because “the tree looks soft” (which actually happened to me. I was the parental figure, not the drunk wannabe Jackass star)
There is nothing worse for someone older than a first year university student than a first year university student. Those CHILDREN. Those absolute CHILDREN!! – Editor.
“Not another chicken.” – just how many times have these tricksy students engaged in such FOWL play? We’ll find out later, as a matter of fact.
There’s a famous end-of-year prank where students took four chickens and set them loose on campus. They painted a “1”, a “2”, a “3”, and a “5” on them. Faculty spent DAYS trying to find out where chicken 4 had ended up!
See how Max Sarin set up the fact Daisy had bare feet in the previous page, so we knew in advance that paint-based shenanigans would be particularly risky for her?
I think we all know who did this. Whenever you’re looking to find out a culprit, pay attention to who is saying the most.
I used to wonder how bad/destructive Uni pranks could get, and while I never saw a kitchen recreated entirely out of paper, I did see a student’s room completely graffiti-ed over. The walls, floor, ceiling, bedding, even the light bulb and the underneath of the chair legs. It was almost impressive.
Look at Saffy in panel three. She knows.
“Such Legendary Bants!” – short for banter, bants was the go-to word for ‘having a laugh’ for a while there a few years back. Masters of the bants were often referred to as the Archbishop of Banterbury, or a Bantersaurus Rex, and even – in rare cases – a “regular Banthony Hopkins”
A “simp” refers to somebody who puts someone else on a pedestal, in turn making themselves wholly dependent or subservient to that person. Usually used in regards to men on the internet who leave comments on model’s twitter photos. It can also be made into something derogatory, as is the case here.
Spread around the room you can see the buckets of paint they used to paint the floor in the hall, and the dismantled kitchen cupboards they replaced with cardboard ones. There’s also a hose pipe for some other unknown prank, and a crudely drawn picture of Daisy viciously scribbled out.
Coralie’s minions take on the form of TweedleDee and TweedleDum in Coralie’s mind, and the explosion of bats only serves to firm up her place as the supervillan of this piece.
“Yeah. On a Permo” – Short for permanent, it’s the feeling of tripping long after the drugs should have worn off. The drugs, in Coralie’s case, being insomnia and hatred.
The uberman method is actually talking about polyphrasic sleep, where your sleep pattern is insane, but completely rigid in structure. Apparently if you sleep for twenty minutes and then stay up for a few hours, then twenty minutes sleep and a few hours, etc etc, you can maintain that pattern forever. It’s… not healthy. Bankers do it.
Look at the face on that student next to Daisy! I love how artist Sarin foreshadows the epic “Shhhhhhhhhhh!” a few panels later. I’m going to miss this series.
19! 19 Chicken incidents! That’s more than a Saturday night in Nando’s. Do Americans still not know what “going for a cheeky Nando’s” means? If so, nobody tell them. We must have explained Nandos by now, Matt. I can’t be bothered checking, but I’m sure we have.
Saffy’s eyebrows were made for situations like this.
“Niebezpieczne lekarstwa grypy” is Polish for ‘Dangerous Flu Medication’*, so you can’t say Daisy wasn’t warned.
Daisy quotes “Three Is The Magic Number” from De La Soul. Then she quotes Simon & Garfunkel “Hello Darkness My Old Friend”. She’s having a day of it.
I was tempted to describe Home Bargains here, but the name says it all really. All you need to know is that it’s a real shop where I have zero doubt that you can buy dodgy cheap flu pills.
*Thanks, Google Translate!
I’m so proud of Esther! John Allison has done a fantastic job of showing the growth of these characters over this series, but perhaps Esther has developed the most. What a feeling to have finished your degree!
I still remember this exact feeling, walking out the exam room early and leaving all that degree stress behind me. Big times, giant days.
Stygian means ‘of the River Styx’ and is commonly used to describe an intense level of darkness.
It’s appropriate that Daisy uses the term ‘Matrix’ here, as she’s seemingly taken the red pill and has undergone a transformation not unlike those unplugged from the Matrix in those seminal movies. As a brief aside, I saw someone recently refer to The Matrix as “one of the finest movies of the late 1900s” and with that I crumbled into dust.
“All Property is theft, Susan. Pierre-Joseph Proudhon.” – A prominent French politician from the mid 19th Century, Pierre-Joseph Proudhon was the first person to call themselves an anarchist, cementing himself as one of anarchism’s most influential philosophers. The fact that Daisy is quoting him here (while heavily implying that she stole a huge monitor from somewhere) leads us to think she’s becoming the very thing she’s fighting against.
Max Sarin is now drawing comics for DC, and this page 100% makes the case for an ongoing Batgirl series, right?
“Maybe she’ll play the brown note over the PA” – The Brown Note has become something of an urban legend about a specific frequency that, when played, makes the listener… poop themselves. Popularised by an episode of South Park, it’s gained a bit of traction as a legitimate frequency, but it’s all bobbins. Bobbins, I SAY!
Villanelle is one of the main characters from Killing Eve, but since I’ve never watched it I’m reluctant to explore further because I DON’T WANT SPOILERS LALALA.
“Salad days” was coined by Shakespeare, I believe! It means the days when you are still young, naive, inexperienced, optimistic. I don’t believe Susan ever had those.
And Saffy finally makes her move! But, alas, Daisy doesn’t realise.
Coralie is DJ’ing whilst wearing a giant electronic helmet, just like Deadmau5.
You have to wonder what Daisy has in all those pouches.
Could Coralie be the most villainous character in all of Giant Days? Literally stealing the most memorable moments from the final days of a person’s Uni experience is pretty messed up. The book is even called Giant Days, for crying out loud! This is a series all about how important this time in a person’s life is, and Coralie has stolen some of them from Daisy.
To cap it all off, the electronic helmet… thing quotes William Butler Yeats to Daisy. His poem “The Second Coming” also says:
The best lack all conviction, while the worstAre full of passionate intensity.
Esther calls her “Daisy Duke”, after the famous character from Dukes of Hazzard.
I believe their last time sat in this spot came in issue #18 of the series, which finished up their first year of residence.
Well, maybe it turned into one of the most memorable nights of Daisy’s life after all!
“To be Concluded” – the familiar send off changes from it’s usual “To be Continued” as one more bitter reminder that this is the penultimate issue, and our Giant Days are coming to a close. As Doctor Stephen Strange once said, “We’re in the Endgame now.”
Giant Days #53
Written by John Allison
Drawn by Max Sarin
Coloured by Whitney Cogar
Lettered by Jim Campbell
Matt Lune is a critic and podcaster who has written for publications including PanelXPanel, The MNT and Multiversity. You can find him on Twitter here!
This post was made possible thanks to the Shelfdust Patreon! To find out more, head to our Patreon page here!
IIRC, John Allison stated that the paper kitchen prank on page 6 was explicitly based on a sketch from The Armando Iannucci Show, but brings to mind the trend in 2020 of ‘surprise! this normal object is made of cake!’ trend heheh
Even in spite of losing the battle with Coralie, I think Daisy wins the war of going up against a bad girl and not falling for her charms – shows how she’s grown past her relationship with Ingrid and previous crushes of Nadia and the mean cricket player – she’s conquered her Kryptonite!
I also love how, as we get closer to the end in this issues, the callbacks to previous Giant Days are out in full force. Susan and Esther ‘mumming’ Daisy as they did in Issue 4, the pep pills Daisy takes being the same ones she takes in Issue 2 (and the same ‘three is the magic number’ doseage as she takes in issue 4), the return of Cross-Dimensional Aphasiac Somnipathy, or Night World Syndrome, from both Issues 11 and 28, Daisy’s consistent and eternal love for post-its and new-age music, Esther wanting to be skinnydip/’be nude in a weird way’ as she did at the end of first year, Susan’s Christmas Ball outfit from Issue 5 repurpsed for this issue’s Last Smash Dance, even the conversation under the tree which Daisy calls back to in Issue 18 – it really does tie the whole story up with a big bow seeing aspects and elements return for one last appearance.
Thanks for spotting and looking up all those callbacks! Nice work.
Daisy really has no way of forming relationships other than someone giving her a surprise kiss on the lips and then walking away, does she? And that’s another callback, to Ingrid in issue 16.