Thursday, January 28, 2021

Giant Days: Vols. 8-10 by Allison, Sarin, and Cogar (with Madrigal)

Giant Days ended a little more than a year ago, which eventually spurred me to stop waiting for the probably-never-coming fourth hardcover collection and actually read the back half of the story in the paperbacks that do exist. So, once again, as is inevitable with comics, I'm writing about a huge chunk of middle today.

It's not inevitable that I do it eighteen months late -- Vol. 10 came out in June of 2019 -- but I am hoping to get to the end in the next few months, if that matters.

Anyway: this is the middle. Esther and Susan and Daisy met in the first issue of Giant Days, back in 2015, as they started their studies at the fictional Sheffield University, somewhere in the UK. (My guess is that "somewhere" would be Sheffield, but writer John Allison can be tricky.) Their stories are funny but grounded -- Giant Days is pitched somewhere between slice-of-life and sitcom-wacky, or maybe wanders through both of those territories, depending on the story and the circumstances. But these are real people depicted mostly realistically. Most of the series was drawn by Max Sarin, and colored by Whitney Cogar. (Julia Madrigal drew two issues in the middle of this particular batch, and the first six were drawn by Lissa Treiman. Oh, and Liz Fleming was the inker over Sarin's pencils for roughly the second year.)

My posts on the earlier stories: onetwothree, and fourNot on the Test 1 & 2Not on the Test 3Extra Credit, and seven.

And so today I have twelve issues of comics, originally published between August 2017 and July 2018 and then collected as Volume Eight and Volume Nine and Volume Ten. (Do I need to tell you that each volume collects four issues? I hope you can do simple arithmetic.)

This batch of stories covers the end of their second year -- when the three women lived together in one house, which arrangement is breaking up in various complicated ways in Volume 8 -- and the beginning of their third and final year at Sheffield. (Giant Days is published out of the US, but, like most things Allisonian, it presents a distinctively British view of the world and never goes out of its way to soften or explain that. I imagine there were a lot of American readers confused why everyone at Sheffield is only there for three years.)

Some of the volumes focus mostly on the women's academic careers, some on other activities, but most of them -- and these three fall into that -- are mostly about their interpersonal relationships: with each other, with their chosen boy- and girl-friends, with housemates often horrible and sometimes just overwhelming. You know: living with other people, having mostly-adult relationships with other people -- the kind of thing most of us really learn to do when we're in college and off on our own for the first time. (Note that "being in college" and "off on our own for the first time" are separate things that are often encountered together, but not necessarily. They are here.)

The tenth volume also sees the world of work looming, at least for Esther and Daisy. (Susan is pre-med, so she has several more years of school ahead of her.) And that presents new concerns and complications, in ways that may be familiar to readers of Allison's other stories. (His main characters tend to be young and fiery, and as they age and settle down, they turn into background characters in the next story.)

This is the point of Giant Days where the end comes in view, in just the same way that the start of the last year of college prefigures the end of that year (and of college in general). So there's a bit of bittersweet starting to come into the emotional mix here -- this is a time of life, and those never last forever. But endings are what make stories: without an ending, all you have is random moments. (Insert your favorite drive-by superhero-comics insult here.) So I'm looking forward to the ending: Allison is good at endings; he's done a lot of them. And there's still four more books of stories for me to read.

No comments:

Post a Comment