Page 45 Review by Stephen
"This next place is great. It's the ultimate. It has the answers we seek."
"Please no more boutiques, Esther. I can't take my clothes off again today."
"All these fancy shops. There are so many clothes. So many garments. And they're all... they're all made of stars."
That's a perfect opening page, neatly encapsulating one aspect each of Esther, Susan and Daisy: up for adventure, bewildered by fashion, and away with the fairies, respectively.
It also kicks off the first chapter's challenge immediately: prep for, then survive a university ball. Survive means 1) not snog your best mate's face off, 2) not cop off with your ex and 3) not make a fool of yourself in front of the beau of the ball. Umm... that'd be a great big whoops, then.
But first they need to dress for the occasion and Lissa Treiman does each of them proud, although Susan was always going to be traumatised now matter what she ended up in.
"You look amazing!" gasps Daisy, hands clasped with rapture as is tradition. "Esther is like a wizard."
"First she squeezed my blackheads. Then she trussed me up like a turkey. Then she aggressively blow-dried me for twenty minutes."
One of Allison's many seemingly simple skills is lobbing in one extra word like "aggressively" and making it work for him like a 'Q' tile in Scrabble placed on a Triple Word square, maximising the comedic value of entire paragraphs.
"She said she worked out I was the exact same shape and height as Bette Midler."
"After that, she looked at me the way Stephen Hawking looks at a Black Hole. She knew too much."
Both Treiman and Sarin succeed in squeezing out the maximum drama from every line, whether it's Susan staring into the distance there as if having undergone some profound Lovecraftian trauma, Esther's gleeful self-satisfaction at building then delivering a kidney-kicking pun, or Daisy's wide-eyed worry at where it will all end. Here's Susan's ultra-practical ex, McGraw, bypassing some bouncers and flourishing his gadget like Zelda levelling up:
"I had to get in... with this 12-in-1 multi-tool. I pried the beading off a uPVC window casing and removed the sealed unit."
"What if you used those powers... for evil?"
This is the thing that daunts me about BAD MACHINERY's John Allison: how does he even know about uPVC beading? How did "meniscus" end up in his vocabulary? And what does this even mean?
"Lovely use of the flat felled stitch on Susan's seams, by the way."
"Sir, you're making me blush."
Esoteric is inherently funny, I think. Of course there's also room for slapstick and I for one wholeheartedly side with Susan, having lived on top of Nottingham's tallest knoll above the Arboretum Park, and attempted to scale its glacial 3-in-1 winter summit wearing Cuban heels.
"There's nothing wrong with my shoes! It's this hill that's wrong. They built this city wrong!"
There follows the suicide slide I know oh so well right back down to the bottom of the hill.
Previously in GIANT DAYS SELF-PUBLISHED PACK and then in GIANT DAYS VOL 1: Susan, Esther and Daisy experience the joys of communal kitchens etc at university for the very first time.
Now it's the Student Ball, Christmas Break, Exams and Bad Boyfriend Decisions. Susan has a secret! Daisy becomes a Life Coach! Ed Gemmell bears his soul - then quickly covers it up again but is he in time?!?!
John Allison knows exactly how old couples rekindle their flame, loudly, arms flailing:
"Best record! Best songs!
"I agree completely!"
All three panels are too, too funny.
Also, watch what Treiman does when Esther hits the dance floor in Northampton to attract / distract every boy in sight. She succeeds, of course, but as anyone who's seen such a show will know, half the lads are checking out each others' moves, not the luring lady's.