Friday, January 20, 2017

Giant Days, Vol. 3 by John Allison and Max Sarin

First up -- no, you don't have to have read volumes one and two to enjoy this one, nor do you have to have read any of Allison's loosely related series of webcomics about the odd small British city of Tackleford. All you have to know is this: three young women are all in their first year at the fictional Sheffield University. They, and a few others, are our central characters.

And that gets us to Giant Days, Vol. 3, written by John Allison and drawn by Max Sarin (with covers by original series artist Lissa Treiman).

We're hitting what I think is the end of the women's first year at Uni -- it's late winter here, past the holiday but with everyone still bundled up and with finals not quite on the horizon yet. The focus in these stories is the corrupt, nepotistic student government, which several of our characters battle against in different ways, without much success. It's mostly played for laughs, but there's a deeply cynical vision of government underlying the jokes -- that the rulers are from a distinct, different and self-perpetuating class and will always work only for their own interests, while the best any of the rest of us can do is to stay out of their way to avoid getting hurt.

But it's not all serious, of course. We have the joys of sleep deprivation and the agonies of love ignored, the thrills of camping and the ritual of getting hugely drunk repeatedly with old chums from high school. It's about people in college, again -- not so much the studying and learning academic things side (though there's a small piece of that) but the getting-out-into-the-world and finding-your-place-in-life side.

I do wonder how long we'll follow these few people through university -- the point of that time is that it's transformative but also limited. Afterward, it seems far too short. (And, in the UK, the standard is three years rather than the four on my side of the pond, making it even briefer.) It looks like it might take twenty issues -- or even a few more -- to get through one full year, which would make for a pretty long series to cover the whole college experience. But I'm confident Allison will find stories to fill it -- and that Sarin, or the return of Treiman, or even someone unexpected, will draw those stories to keep them as compelling and true.

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