Review: Giant Days #1

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Cover for Giant Days #1Last week, BOOM! Box released the first issue of Giant Days, a new miniseries written by John Allison and drawn by Lissa Treiman, with colors by Whitney Cogar. It’s a fun little college story of adventure and friendship, built on a universe with a long pedigree.

I’ve been reading John Allison’s comics for a long time. Actually, let me Google… Good lord, I’ve been reading John Allison’s comics for over fifteen years. Since 1998ish, he’s written an array of webcomics with shifting titles: Bobbins, Scary Go Round, Bad Machinery, and recently back to Bobbins again. The series have different styles and formats, but their casts are composed of an interconnected group of characters who hail from a strange English town called Tackleford. At first, Bobbins appeared to be a somewhat wacky slice-of-life strip, but at some point the cast acquired a recovering superspy, and from there things just got weird. Good weird. Various cast members have been dead or undead at different points. There have been goblins, bears, yetis, all sorts of things. Life will be going on normally for a long time and then you’ll see a merman or a skellington and say “oh right. That’s part of this comic sometimes, too.”

Giant Days follows Esther de Groot, who started out as the belligerent queen of the high-school outcasts, before learning the nuances of dark fashion and becoming aware of her personal charisma. The Scary Go Round website has a little feature on some of her earlier stories and appearances for those who’d like to catch up, but it’s really not necessary.

The original Giant Days miniseries accompanied Esther to college and introduced her to some new friends: Susan the world-weary cynic and Daisy the granola-fed homeschooler. That first run really captured that college feeling of discovering a social ecosystem that is radically different from what you’re used to, depicting that familiar transition with the character and absurdity I’ve come to expect from Allison’s work.

The new BOOM! series is a direct sequel to that miniseries. The art is great, and Lissa Treiman’s expressive style highlights our girls’ contrasting personalities. I enjoyed it thoroughly, but I’m not entirely sure I can recommend it to readers who are new to the series and characters.

The book does its level best to deliver the requisite backstory in an engaging way, but it’s really hard to replicate a hundred pages of personal interaction with a few flashback panels. If you read the first BOOM! issue by itself, I think you’d get the gist of the relationships, but not the depth. At one point, a character delivers a line that perfectly captured college romantic angst; that scene broke my heart a little, but I doubt it would have the same impact if I hadn’t read earlier stories.

Combing through several thousand pages of webcomic isn’t necessary to enjoy this book at all, but I feel like you’d be doing yourself a disservice by skipping the earlier issues that he now calls Giant Days: Year One. Pick it up on Comixology or in print at Topatoco, and then dive into the new BOOM! Giant Days.

And if you do decide to go back and read the webcomic, you could do worse than stating with this story about Esther, her friends, and the wickedest man in England.

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