Mark Allen reviews Giant Days #20…
The second year begins! When Esther, Daisy and Susan discover that every piece of furniture in their new home was destroyed by the previous occupants, they head to IKEA, where things get complicated.
As a chronicle of contemporary British student life, Giant Days is as close to the real thing you can get without actually having a hangover and feeling the weight of three essay deadlines in the next week. In their first year Esther, Daisy and Susan tackled all sorts of educational, romantic and social dilemmas from the relative squalor of university halls, but in issue #20 they graduate to their very own rented home, complete with trashed upholstery courtesy of their previous tenants. This leads them to face their greatest challenge yet: IKEA.
Writer John Allison and series artist Max Sarin bring the fun as ever, letting Esther enact her upper-class fantasies of being a bored, stable boy-ravishing housewife fantasies in fake luxury while Daisy and Susan look on in pity (and later become accessories to false cuckoldry) being a particular highlight. Though Sarin’s the third artist to take on drawing these characters, by this point her art feels like an integral part of Giant Days‘ DNA, incorporating things like Susan’s trademark fang-teeth and Esther’s goth-chic fashion sense into a cartoonish, often manga-inspired style that’s all her own yet fits the hysterical/laid-back tone of the book perfectly.
I stated in a previous review that one of the book’s many joys is that each issue can be read on its own, delivering a neat little story with laughs aplenty. And that’s still true; anyone who’s ever attempted building flatpack furniture without so much as a handy bone in their body will sympathise with the plight of Daisy’s blistered fingers and the taste of sweet swan flesh contained in IKEA’s meatballs. (Oh, wait a minute.) But at this point having an understanding of the histories between characters really pays off, as Susan stakes her pride on not running to ex-boyfriend and carpenter extraordinaire McGraw for help with the girls’ furniture hell while he and new housemate Ed settle into their own accommodation two streets away, sipping artisan coffee.
In another universe, Giant Days would be a TV show akin to Gilmore Girls or Dawson’s Creek (except better than those two because there are sometimes fights where people get kicked across rooms). The point is that readers relate to the characters in Allison and Sarin’s work to ‘shipping levels, and there’s likely no higher praise for a comic book about teenagers. Here’s to Esther, Daisy and Susan’s second year: let’s hope it’s as messy and delightful as the first one.