Review: Giant Days #23

giantdayscover“Adulting” is the theme of Giant Days #23 as Esther is between jobs and feeling a bit bored so she invites her entire circle of friends and acquaintances to a kind of fancy dinner party. Writer John Allison continues to juggle a cast of about a half-dozen characters and plotline ably cutting to a new scene just when thing seem to be slightly less exciting. Some of the secondary characters like Ed’s semi-disgusting, programming major flatmate Dean and Daisy’s girlfriend Ingrid have their own shining moments through boldly honest toasts and debates about superhero battles, which end up playing a big role in resolving a long-running subplot. And artists Max Sarin and Liz Fleming with colorist Whitney Cogar mine a tragic vein humor through the crazy gestures and sick state of Susan, who is suffering from a cough as well as struggling to see her ex-boyfriend McGraw with his new, Spanish guitar playing girlfriend Emilia.

Giant Days is ostensibly about everyday life as a university student in Sheffield, England, and the hijinks that follow. However, the comic has a bit of a surreal side and could definitely be the third in a sort of trilogy of bonkers flatmate British comedies, like The Young Ones and Spaced. Sarin and Fleming do some fun cutaway gags in Giant Days #23, like Susan turning into a being of light blue flame after a long complaining session about her cough preventing her from practicing to get her scooter license. There is also the world’s most complicated Venn diagram when Daisy and Esther try to work around Ed’s dietary restrictions while planning the party.

But Giant Days‘ surrealism really pops up in its settings, like Cogar’s ghostly green color giantdays23interiorthat she uses for Ed, McGraw, and Dean’s flat after Dean had an all night coding session. You can definitely smell the sweet aroma of nerd sweat, leftover pizza, and half-drunken energy drinks and beers through that color choice. It’s the complete opposite of Emilia’s well ordered, stocked with pesto and angsty poet’s apartment that Sarin gives us a glimpse of in a neat nine-panel grid. As usual, McGraw is the crux between chaos and order as well as being in the awkward position of being Susan’s ex while still being close to most of her friends’ group. But he doesn’t get stuck playing peacemaker, and Allison and Sarin give him a beautiful romantic moment of kissing Emilia by the Guy Fawkes Day bonfire where she calls him by his real name “Graham”. (Maybe one day he’ll grow up to be the guitarist for Blur or a fun chat show host.) The yellow flames from Cogar makes the scene even more touching.

Giant Days #23 gives two of its three leads a release from tension. Daisy is starting to grow closer to Ingrid and starting to meld her introversion with Ingrid’s energy as they work on a jigsaw puzzle instead of going clubbing all night. Esther has employment again plus a slight sense of satisfaction that she pulled off a dinner party with not a whole lot of drama while wearing an adorable skull apron. But life is still very difficult for Susan thanks to the two-pronged assault of sickness and seeing her ex-smooch in front of her, and Allison goes full sadist at the end by making her storyline part of the issue’s cliffhanger.

The dinner party is a time-honored sitcom setting to have different sets of characters bounce off each other and also create change, but John Allison, Max Sarin, Liz Fleming, and Whitney Cogar put a bit of a Giant Days twist in it with plenty of awkwardness and over the top jokes. Giant Days #23 is worth picking up for the interactions between Ingrid and Dean alone, which are truly “avant-garde cabaret” and for finding out the amazing reason why the cops get called on it.

Story: John Allison Pencils: Max Sarin Inks: Liz Fleming Colors: Whitney Cogar
Story: 8.5 Art: 8.5 Overall: 8.5  Recommendation: Buy

BOOM! Studios provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review