Title: Giant Days #2
Written By: John Allison
Art By: Lissa Treiman
Published By: Boom! Studios
Release Date: April 15, 2015
John Allison is back with another colorful issue of Giant Days, this time spotlighting an all-too-familiar drawback to university life: the dreaded flu. This second issue is relatable to anyone who’s experienced life on campus, surrounded by hoards of adolescents expressing their newly-acquired independence by being as unclean and unwashed as possible, spreading bacteria and viruses at the rate of a ravaging wildfire across Yellowstone Park. Even Esther de Groot’s supposedly imperishable immune system is overtaken after the girls are coughed on by an infected stranger, opening the issue with their descent into the feverish nightmare of influenza and filling its pages with the laughable situations they find themselves in.
As someone with an easily compromised immune system, I couldn’t help but titter empathetically as the trio struggled to deal with their debilitating illness in various ways; Susan quits smoking, Esther suffers fevered, hallucinatory dreams and Daisy begins talking to pigeons after consuming Ed’s unregulated Polish “medicine” which acts more like an extreme stimulant than just a symptom suppresser. Their acute differences in personality are what makes each journey to recovery entirely separate, and Giant Days #2 does a clever job inserting notable interactions that are imperative to a larger story arc between its woozy, congested lines. For instance, Susan’s trip to the drug store to replace her cigarettes—cancer sticks bound to exacerbate the soreness in her throat—with a coveted supply of nicotine patches lands her face-to-face with an enemy. After storming away from the pharmacist, exclaiming the cost of nicotine patches were on par with robbery, she runs straight into McGraw and another heated conversation ensues. Despite their cold encounter, we learn that their history must have had a soft and squishy side, as Susan finds a box of nicotine patches outside her door the following day.
Like its predecessor, the familiar cast of characters in Giant Days #2 are crazy and utterly loveable, giving no second thoughts to their ridiculous behavior as a normal person would be apt to do. Esther concludes to visit the doctor after enduring a fever-dream that people with hallucinatory dream experience will especially relate to (“the world is made of concrete and wire and I must divide it by three”) but she can’t smell which clothes are clean and which are “contaminated” in the mounting laundry pile. Yanking back the hangars of her closet, staring beyond the dark scarves and ruffly tutu skirts, she targets the speckless outfit stowed squarely in the back. Lissa Treiman’s artwork shines in this hilarious scene, depicting a sickened Esther gliding down the hallway in full gothic lolita attire like the ghost of a Victorian-era aristocrat—complete with petticoat and top hat—and a scared student pins himself against the wall as she moves past. Treiman creates a wave of sickly green and purple skulls that follow the gothic beauty down the corridor, and you can spot tiny, buzzing flies if you squint hard enough. It’s this kind of attention to detail that is so particular to the series, as Treiman is known to litter panels with these kinds of easter eggs, willing you to hunt for small bread crumbs of humor across the pages of Giant Days #2.
We also get a handful of Daisy in this issue, too. Ed’s foreign stimulants blanket her flu symptoms, and she spends her recovery period hyperactively writing a novel on a typewriter. Realizing she’s out of the foreign tablets (due to rapidly consuming them all day) she resides to stick her feverish head out of the window. Here she spots a pigeon and—in true Daisy style—strikes up a conversation with it, her eyes hollow and unblinking. You can almost hear Willy Wonka singing, “there’s no knowing where we’re rowing.” Daisy is always a fun character to follow, and I love that John Allison tends to write her innocence and naivete as a strong suit rather than a weak point. Excitingly enough this issue ends on an interesting cliffhanger, one that appears to be setting up delectable portions of drama for the subsequent issue, though you’ll have to read it yourself to draw your own conclusions.
John Allison’s world of malady and campus drama feels almost like a Cartoon Network show, on par with Regular Show or a more grown-up Adventure Time, but the series sustains a notably British flavor that hasn’t been replicated elsewhere. With no flashy or impressive visuals like giant monsters or flying spacecraft, Giant Days must rely on its unique characters and witty dialogue to keep it afloat, and the second issue manages to do this with incredible ease—even amidst a dilemma as commonplace as the flu. From hallucinations to screaming cigarette cartons to talking pigeons, John Allison’s theatrical characters really flourish to life in this hilarious slice-of-life comic book. Despite the self-contained nature of its story, Giant Days #2 still ends with the promise of a juicy, drama-filled third installment. You won’t be let down.
- Relatable humor
- Continued dynamic between Susan and McGraw
- Colorful and contemporary artwork
- Not much of a larger story arc