Tuesday, October 02, 2018

Book-A-Day 2018 #275: Giant Days: Extra Credit, Vol. 1 by John Allison and various artists

Every serial story in a popular medium about a group of friends eventually does the "what if they didn't become friends?" alternate-world story. It's required, whether by some iron law of the universe or just because there are only so many ideas and a writer inevitably will grab that one in a moment of desperation. The rule is clear: these people must become friends. No matter what else happens in the universe, they will be true and loyal and special to each other...eventually.

For Giant Days, that time was the first Holiday Special in 2016, with the epic-length (and I don't just mean the title) "What Would Have Happened If Esther, Daisy and Susan Hadn't Become Friends (And It Was Christmas)." That story also saw the welcome return of original series artist Lissa Treiman to drawing Ether, Daisy and Susan -- and also to drawing an amusing Daisy-as-the-Watcher character who intermittently narrated the story.

Because, you see...writer John Allison knows the "these people have to be friends" story is silly. I think he likes it because it's silly. And he's always willing to lean into the silly in any of his interlinked comics; they're set in a world of bizarre occurrences and strange manifestations, but where a good (and appropriately British) self-deprecating remark will get you out of anything.

Giant Days: Extra Credit, Vol. 1 is the first collection of sidebar Giant Days stories -- it has that 2016 Holiday Special, another similar special from 2017, a third holiday-ish story sandwiched between the two longer ones that maybe was a backup in one of those specials (it's not really explained, and doesn't have a cover attached to it), and three shorter stories entirely by Allison at the end. Let me back up and tackle them each separately.

First up is that "What if?" story, and it goes the way all such stories must go -- they all settle into their separate lives at Sheffield, a little less happy and fulfilled than they are in the "real" continuity, and have friction with each other until Fate throws them together and they team up to defeat the obligatory Mean Girls. (Oddly, there only seem to be Mean Girls at Sheffield in alternate-world stories -- they showed up in one other similar story -- but not in the main continuity.)

Next is an oddball tale of Desmond Fishman, one of the quirkiest character from Allison's online comics, who joins Esther's family for the holidays, in a story drawn by Caanan Grall. How does it go? Well, if you don't already know Dez, let me say the title is "How the Fishman Despoiled Christmas."

The other long story is from the next year's Holiday Special, drawn by Jenn St-Onge in a nice style that felt more realistic than I was comfortable seeing these characters (at least at first). It has the horribly punny title of "Love? Ack, Shelly!" and sees our three heroines go up to the Big Smoke to visit with Shelly for the holidays and try to fix her love life along the way.

Filling out the end are three stories drawn by Allison himself -- two short ones in comics format from various Giant Days ephemera, and a "Destroy History" sequence that launched (and subsequently ended) a spinoff strip from Scarygoround about Shelly and her work for the Ministry of History. Webcomics are the purest expression of Allison, so this is some of the best stuff in the book. He has a distinctive sense of humor, which you will either love or completely fail to get. I'll leave you with the first strip to see how it affects you:

No comments:

Post a Comment