Thoughts: Giant Days, by John Allison (vols 1-4)

Probably going to be a short one, but if you don’t want to read my inane thoughts, take only this away: Read Giant Days, it is lovely.

I don’t think I’ve written about a graphic novel here before, so this will be fun. It feels a bit like homework (my inner child squirming on the chair and saying “I just liked it, what am I supposed to say?”), which I’ve decided I’m going to take as being Character-Improving.

So. I liked Giant Days. Spuggy got me into John Allison’s work through his webcomics, especially Bad Machinery. We met the man himself at Thought Bubble in Leeds (and he probably thought I was a huge weirdo because… I am, and he seems like a very perceptive chap). He does fantastic Eurovision sketches on his Twitter (though not this year, which I was very sad about, because they were a particularly good Eurocrop this year).

He does small town Yorkshire extremely well, and I’m a sucker for the touch of supernatural weirdness he brought into some of his webcomic arcs. His art style is distinctive and very expressive, in sort of a Kate Beaton way, but not. His dialogue has a sort of unique cadence that works perfectly (hard to explain, but it’s all in the use-or-not of contractions, and a great mix of dialect words and grander old-fashioned words which make you think “More people should use this word” whenever you see them).

Giant Days is lovely, a pure comfort read for someone like me who’s trying to pretend that it’s not over a decade since she went into halls. I have to give credit to the artists as well, retaining that Allison style through their own.

The characters are brilliant, and though Esther (the character everyone thinks they are but are not) does threaten to overshadow everyone, Daisy and Susan get plenty of screen time. Daisy’s mostly off-screen arc with Friday Night Lights was a bit of a bum note for me, but I didn’t even mind. I enjoyed spending time in the company of the characters, and their dynamics with each other, and, frankly, the fact that they were allowed to just be lasses who were friends, whose dramas didn’t come from silly misunderstandings between each other, whose friendships were never really jeopardised. Boy drama, pigeon drama, exam drama, weird cult drama, all this is infinitely more preferable to me than girls who can’t maintain friendships.

The end of volume 4 brought in a couple of new twists that I’m looking forward to exploring (and a bonus mention of Stockton-on-Tees! We do exist! We do!) and totally confident that Allison will make it heartwarming and silly and fun.

There were a couple of weird word-things that I noticed, and I mention them here only for reference really. Allison is very “local” in his language use, but there were a couple of Americanisms in Giant Days that jarred me a bit (bearing in mind I am a very word-oriented person, and my job specifically requires hyper-alertness to British v non-British English – this is not something that everyone would necessarily be bothered by). “Band-Aid” is the only one I remember off the top of my head, but that sort of thing. He left in words like “pash” though, which I (a Brit) hadn’t actually come across before, so it was a bit weird that he wouldn’t say “plaster”. I wonder if it was because pash was contextually explained or understandable, whereas the plaster/Band-Aid reference was throwaway and therefore not glossable. I don’t know, and probably never will. The mean part of me, however, wonders why it should be made so palatable to Americans anyway, as it is clearly not primarily for them. It was just a thing that I noticed.

One good thing though, that I am pleased to be able to tell Mr Allison, is that though Cosmo (correctly) points out that you have to go to Boro to go to Starbucks (I must note here that someone wrote it “Middlesborough” which as we all know is incorrect), Billingham has recently acquired itself a Costa Coffee, so we are going up in the world!

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