It has been ages since I wrote something different from music-related content for this blog. Inspiration for a change has found me thanks to a particular obsession I have been consumed by for the past few weeks. An incredible graphic novel series won a spot in my heart forever with its amazing characters, relatable storyline, absolutely hilarious humour, satisfying development, and beautiful artwork.
The series I cannot help but miss after finishing the 55 issues filled with tribute and downfall – Giant Days by John Allison (story), Max Sarin, and Lissa Treiman (art) will be the topic of this blog post.
Since this review got lengthier than I anticipated I find it important to include a TL; DR section for those wondering if Giant Days is worth a shot
Giant Days is an incredibly charming graphic novel series featuring drastically different characters creating an everlasting friendship thanks to mutually supporting each other in the misadventures of college life and early adulthood. The series is mainly comedic but features a lot of serious thought-provoking topics and delicate issues. The relatability and accurate slice of life elements are the main reason it will resonate with you.
Giant Days is a graphic novel series with an irresistible charm. I mean it when I say it is one of the series I truly fell in love with and now that I have seen its final pages I painfully miss everything about it. Slice of life has never been so relatable, funny, exciting, and accurate.
There are many great things about Giant Days (I will go through them in a bit) but probably the best part is that it simply ended when it should have. There is no unnecessary prolonging and squeezing of any left illusionary potential. It is not too short, unfinished, or rushed as well – John Allison managed to find the sweetest spot of storytelling and serve it illustrated beautifully.
The series had a purpose and it lived to see it get achieved- it told the story of three completely different personas who formed an indestructible bond and supported each other in the many misfortunes of college life and early adulthood.
Would I enjoy it?
Giant Days is the definition of slice of life. And before you get the wrong impression – it is not one of those boring, uneventful representatives of the genre. The series is packed with lots of development, interesting storylines, and incredibly funny as well as dramatic situations.
It does contain some surreal elements serving as metaphors and symbolism like for example the Night World students unintentionally enter while pulling all-nighters to finish assignments. However, everything in the comic is extremely close to reality with strong references to actual experiences many college students cannot escape facing as well as internal dilemmas torturing all of us.
Giant Days is also very British and mainly comedic. Chances are if you fancy British humour and like the combination of comedy with sudden dramatic twists and thought-provoking themes getting the spotlight every once in a while Giant Days will become one of your favourite reads.
So what is so great about it, you may ask.
The series is mainly set in the town of Sheffield where the main characters attend University. It also often shows other distinguishable areas of England and plays with their reputation amongst locals and visitors to create exaggerated environments feeding the already high amount of comedy present.
The storyline is heavily centred on university life – classes, parties, internships, fairs and events, music festivals, camping, and everywhere else the average student tends to thrive or suffer. Regular life is well represented with the necessary amount of romance, drama, self-identity questioning, and defining life choices that serve as refreshing breaks from the comedy aspect.
The story of the series could not be simpler and more genuine. Heavily inspired by the everyday life of the average college student Giant Days takes us on a captivating journey through the student life of three young women sharing the same dorm room who eventually form a friendship that will make you immediately reach out to your own beloved mates.
All the stories that unveil on the pages are sure to play with your emotions and call back bittersweet memories of your own life and relationships. This is precisely the reason it is so easy to connect with the series and the development that keeps you wanting to see more of the characters and their misadventures.
The plot is focused on different happenings around the three main characters – their troubles, their navigation in life, wild nights out, won and lost battles, and, of course, heartwarming and heartbreaking moments. This makes the storyline very engaging and easy to consume – uncomplicated and smoothly flowing it seems like there is no grand design behind it but the ending will make you realize it all leads to important takeaways that can be applied in your own life.
Giant Days: As Time Goes By aka issue 55 – The Conclusion
The characters are one of the main reasons I got so deeply attached to the series. The three main acting figures represent three drastically different personalities who, despite their differences, support and push each other through various challenges in order to survive the turbulent process of maturing.
Esther de Groot is a melodramatic goth with an always active “drama field” (we had a whole issue proving that theory) majoring in English literature who is heavily obsessed with black metal. Her easy-going attitude mixed with the sparks of responsibility and dedication towards the causes she cares about makes her incredibly interesting to observe. Esther undergoes a lot of development for the 55 issues just like the rest of the cast but her central role for the majority of the events make her the most memorable and prone to sympathy figure.
Susan Ptolemy represents the tough character that is soft, caring, and emotional deep inside but rarely shows it. Her harsh temperament and anger outbursts are often balanced by the third start of the show – Daisy Wooton. The latter is an unbreakable optimist who together with the supporting Ed Gimmel is responsible for pushing others to sort their mess out and be “adults” whenever everything gets too much (and as we all know it often does).
A wide range of one-issue characters as well reoccurring supporting acts add even more colour to the already diverse personalities and contribute to the fun development of the storyline in many ways. Ex-lovers hard to stay away from, mortal enemies since childhood, quirky relatives, know-it-alls, nerds, and average joes are all presented painfully accurate throughout the series.
A good thing to point out is the character development that leads to major changes in everyone but still allows their essence to remain truly alive. The characters mature notably during the 55 issues and this can strongly remind you of your own personal growth with a vibe of inspiration, empowerment, and encouragement.
The art of Max Sarin and Lissa Treiman is just a charming as everything else in the series. Many interesting details can be spotted if you look close enough – interesting faces in background crowds, references to pop culture and politics, a lot of Death Note and anime culture throwbacks as well.
The attention to detail is impressive and characters are brought to life incredibly well thanks to recognizable elements, accurate facial expressions, manners, and unique style. The world the two artists have created is warm, inviting, and feels at home once you get attached to the story and setting (yes, despite being set in England).
I really found it easy to connect with Giant Days. I blame it on the way the authors have made it easy to relate everything to your own life and the successful implementation of serious themes and thought-provoking issues within all the humour and satire.
It is definitely worth the read, even if you are not the biggest graphic novel fan. And just like in real life after the final bittersweet hangout it will disappear even if you are begging for just one more day with the characters you fell in love with. And this is how it has to be.
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