Tuesday, January 01, 2019

Book-A-Day 2018 #366: Giant Days: Not on the Test Edition, Vol. III by Allison, Sarin & Fleming

Yes, this is day #366 of last year's Book-A-Day. I've run over; so sue me. As of today, it looks like Book-A-Day 2018 will extend to number 379 on the 14th.

You really don't need to know anything about creator John Allison's extended Tackleford universe to read and love Giant Days -- the connection is very loose and tenuous, and I don't think Giant Days has ever actually shown us Tackleford. But I still ran through the whole world-building story when I wrote about the first two hardcover omnibus collections this May, so people might think that Giant Days is hard to get into.

It isn't. There are these three friends at a fictional college somewhere in England: Esther, Daisy, and Susan. They are written with style and verbal flair, and drawn with panache and energy. Their adventures are just that little bit bigger and more exciting than actual life. They are quirky, distinctive people who are fun to read about. You are missing out on something wonderful if you don't read about them.

Which brings me to Giant Days: Not on the Test Edition, Vol. 3, which collects issues 17-24 of the comics series. The stories here take place at the end of their first year of college, over the summer, and the beginning of the fall term.

(This is a British school, so they seem to be on a trimester system and on track to graduate after only three years. There may be Americans who will be completely thrown by this, but I expect they're already cowering in a cool dark room right now, utterly terrified by the oddities of life.)

As usual with Giant Days, it's character-based humor with everything turned up just a couple of notches from real life -- and you can get to know the characters through any of the stories, so you don't actually need to start at the beginning. (That's obviously the best place to start, but it's not required.) So the three women have further love complications, and house complications when their second-year house rental turns out less nice than they'd expected. There's a plagiarism scandal, that music festival, a horrible housemate for McGraw and Ed (their male friends), new unpleasant neighbors, a brush with the criminal underworld, and an extended visit from Susan's father.

The big draws are Allison's sprightly, crackling dialogue and the energetic art from Max Sarin (pencils), Liz Fleming (inks), and Whitney Cogar (colors), all of which add up to a thoroughly entertaining, wonderful set of stories about a group of quirky, believable people.

Also included is the third (of three) self-published all-Allison Giant Days stories in the back of this book, which Allison made a couple of years before starting the min series with collaborators. [1] So, to my mind, not only is Giant Days one of the very best comics series out there, but the Not on the Test Editions are the best way to read that series. Period.

[1] Some might say they are prequels; those people are wrong. Prequels are works made later but set in an earlier time period. Works made earlier are just works made earlier.

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