I started this review back in March (EEP!) and it has been my albatross now for nearly two months. Double EEP! I adored the web comics, and when I was feeling down around the Covid-aversary I dug into some good- old- fashioned- comfort- comics. What began as a pick-me-up purchase of the first volume became a “tune it all out” obsession once I realized that more volumes were available on both Scribd and Hoopla. My diversion turned into a marathon reading of volumes 1-12 with little time for breathing, thinking, or reviewing. I’m in a better place now, but that means I have a LOT of reviews to catch up on!
John Allison has been filling the internet with mysterious young people and barks of dry laughter since launching the web comic Bobbins back in 1998. Bobbins was a bit before my time- we might have had a PC in the house then, but we DEFINITLEY did not have the internet. I was brought into the fray by the next series: Scary Go Round. Many SGR folks started out in Bobbins, and when SGR started to wind down, the *new* younger generation of Tackleford Teens took over with Bad Machinery. But then? Another crew emerged from the sidelines: the teens of Giant Days. The trio of Giant Days, Esther, Daisy, and Susan – began as side characters before lurching headfirst into their own university-bound story. Giant Days began as a web comic, and now it is an Eisner Award winner in it’s own right! Allison remains the writer and creator, but artwork is traded off throughout the series. Allison’s artwork changed quite a bit from year to year online, so it isn’t too jarring for me to see the characters morph over time- but now it’s because different creators and artists pop in throughout to add their personal flair to Allison’s signature styles.
Without further ado, may I present, THE FIRST THREE VOLUMES OF Giant Days!
Volumes 1-3 cover a good chunk of the first semester at university. Daisy, Esther, and Susan are roommates and fast friends. Daisy is a do-gooder Granny’s Girl, Esther is a glamorous goth, and Susan is a battle-axe powered by cigarettes and spite. I, of course, love them dearly. The gals are joined by hopelessly-in-love Ed, and his roommate MCGRAW! Why is MCGRAW in caps? Well, he is very handsome. He is also mysteriously connected to Susan, but neither party is willing to tell their friends what that history may be! They brood and glare from opposite pages, but you can guess where they’re going. Much like many first-time-away adventures, the girls all get horrendously ill with the flu and alternate between caring for each other and having their own trippy cold-medicine influenced nightmares. Daymares? It’s all the same when you’re sick as an “adult” for the first time! Illness induced madness subsides, but soon vindictive-rage-MADNESS takes over: creepy dudes on campus are creating their own “facebook” style rating site for new girls on campus, and our ladies are furious. An inflammatory zine is, of course, involved. It wouldn’t be a coming of age story without a literal coming of age, and the crew celebrates Daisy’s 18th with TOO MUCH booze and JUST ENOUGH expression of sexual orientation! Get it, girls!
Volume Two kicks off with what is maybe a British schooling tradition? Are Winter Balls a thing? Let me know! Of course, any group party of young people involves a LOT of drinking and a LOT of flirting; McGraw gets more handsome and Susan gets a litttttle less ornery. Ed is, as always, hopelessly in love. Esther is questioning her role at school. Should she be there? Is she smart? Can she do it? There is so much to relate to in all of these characters, even when they go off the deep end with the silly stuff. Daisy spend a good chunk of Volume Two emulating both Coach AND Tammy Taylor. Blue hats, pep talks, humongous glasses of wine- there’s another comfort property! Feeling icky and nostalgic? Let Coach, Tammy, and Big Tim Riggins take you to Texas, y’all. This volume also gives us some solid connection back to Bad Machinery and Scary Go Round when Suzy goes home for break and comes face to face with one of her many nemeses: an MLM-scamming-club-owning-river-polluting-crime-family-matriarch! The Scooby Do-like inspiration for the old comics lives on!
More throwbacks to old characters pop up in Volume Three, with Esther’s old pal (and former character) Big Lindsay returning to the scene. Can the crew survive her partying ways, and can Big Lindsay help with Ed’s unlucky in love situation? You’ll have to see for yourself! John Allison, for all of his very cute artwork, has a soft spot for black metal and we get to see some glimpses into some dark and gloomy (and intense!) concert going. I love it. Not just because McGraw does some serious thrashing. As with many college adventures, some of our girls stop sleeping and become addicted to THE NIGHT. Only the strength of friendship can drag them back towards the sun! Can it also save Suzy from political machinations? Again we get some Scooby Do-ery as Susan runs a shadow campaign for a student body president who may or may not exist. We close with a camping adventure, where ghosts of Girl Guides past AND past boyfriends (who are still living but ghosts none the less) come out to play.
I cannot recommend this series enough. It’s a wonderful way to reach back to “that teenage feeling”, and if you aren’t familiar with his work already, then it provides a perfect gateway to the world of John Allison.
Welp, 3 down- 9ish to go! I suppose I’ll do another Giant Days update in ANOTHER two months or so!