Giant Days #48-49
Giant Days remains one of my favorite ongoing comics, and these days, that’s bittersweet. I want Susan, Esther, and Daisy to keep having college adventures for a long, long time, but time won’t stand still for them. Creator John Allison has them growing up and preparing to venture into the “real world” — or he has the world infringing on their university bubble.
Giant Days #48 is illustrated by Allison, who normally writes. To my eye, that makes everyone look a little more sharp-edged, without the softening Max Sarin gives them. (Both covers here are by Sarin.) Since this issue is about a return home, as Susan and her boyfriend McGraw have gone back to the wedding of McGraw’s brother, that fits, that things look like a little bit of a throwback.
Unfortunately, McGraw’s brother is marrying into a family of Susan’s enemies, so she gets to be backed up by her friends Esther and Daisy. Help is needed when everyone wants to know when you’ll be the next getting hitched or telling you you’re not good enough. Staying at home with lots of family is a struggle, so the friends spend much of their time at the pub or the wedding reception. These situations allow for plenty of sometimes silly, sometimes ridiculous dialogue, a strength of the series, accompanied by active illustrations that keep the story moving.
Giant Days #49 turns the spotlight to Esther, who is trying to write her dissertation on the Great American Novel (which explains the cover). Sarin and Allison split pencilling, but since Sarin does all the finishes, it’s hard to tell where one stops and the other begins.
Esther’s gone home for Easter to allow her to focus on her work, but she winds up babysitting an 11-year-old proto-goth to distract herself. She doesn’t fit in there any more, and an encounter with one of her few old friends still in town doesn’t satisfy.
I have the feeling that, if I’d read some of Allison’s previous webcomics, I would see references and allusions in this story to things that happened there, but it’s never obvious enough to make me feel left out or not wanted as a more recent reader. What I do get is some wonderful thoughts on wanting to go back home but being uncomfortable with how things have changed. It’s something everyone has to deal with as they grow up and go out on their own, but few people crystallize it as well as Allison does here, while still keeping things entertaining.
(The publisher provided digital review copies.)