Review by Frank Plowright
A great opening page tells you so much you need to know about Giant Days. It introduces university room mates Esther de Groot, Susan Ptolemy and Daisy Wooton, with John Allison’s brief captions sketching their character. This is reinforced by Lisa Treiman’s illustration, depicting each in a pose displaying their personality, and Whitney Cogar’s bright colouring catches the eye and cements the overall style. It’s very effective in doing what’s intended, establishing the three main personalities in what’s the comics equivalent of character based sitcom material.
Four episodes feature in this engaging first collection. The opener supplies further information about the main cast while also introducing Susan’s hate figure McGraw. It’s only at the end, which comes too soon, that it’s apparent how much Allison has packed into a story of three girls hanging out. In the second story a bad cold is doing the rounds, followed by a plot dealing with online shaming and then Daisy’s eighteenth birthday. Allison brings a light touch to the events, and comes up with neat, inventive and funny solutions to the problems he’s set, foreshadowing them well in previous episodes. Early in the book there’s a good joke around Daisy quoting her grandmother, depicting her as eccentric, and in the final episode the lady herself turns up, which is also an indication of the unpredictability of the scripts. The chapter where everyone’s sick lapses into fever dreams, and McGraw, in this collection at least, is the very epitome of pious concern rather than anyone who should be despised and vilified.
Perhaps the male members of the cast aren’t extended enough, but then they’re the secondary characters, and besides, it seems as if the nerdy Ed is going to have some of his dreams fulfilled in Volume Two.
Lissa Treiman has worked on high profile Disney films as an animator, and has a lovely loose way of defining everyone involved in Giant Days. There’s not a stiff figure to her cartooning, and she makes you want to love the entire cast, this despite their personality failings being integral to the material. Her facial expressions are great, and life just springs from the pages.
As with the best comedy, Giant Days is instantly accessible to a wide audience who’ll recognise the character traits, even if they don’t know someone similar. Behind the scenes both creators put in a lot of work to ensure this is the case, work well beyond that fantastically crafted opening page. Giant Days is a winner.