Page 45 Review by Stephen
"'Dangles and makes noise' or just 'dangles'? I can't choose."
Does that chime with you? Trying to find the perfect present for friends? Daisy's trying to find one for Susan' birthday.
"A delicately embroidered pashmina?"
"She'd just wipe up a spill with it."
I love John Allison's vocabulary. It's full of pinafores and broaches and Singer Sewing Machines: feminine things of the past which he picked up from his Mum. Being in John's company is like being sprinkled by pixie dust. He's not quite of this world, and I love it.
But whereas BAD MACHINERY is magic realism, GIANT DAYS is essentially grounded in astonishingly well remembered real life at university. Clearly he drank a lot less than I did. It stars Susan, Esther, Daisy, young Ed who's infatuated with Esther and older McGraw who once dated Susan and may now be doing so again. McGraw's seniority is denoted by his surname. John's very precise with his words. The cadence of each sentence is judged just-so.
"Why are you being nice to me, Susan? I know it takes a lot out of you."
Specifically recalled here is the exhausted delirium of staying up two nights on the trot feverishly writing an entire dissertation at the very last minute which you had a whole month to hand in on time. By which point you become a nocturnal, a creature of the night, and Magic surrealism sure creeps in then, full-blown in Max Sarin's giddy art. Her timing is every bit as funny and thrilling as Allison's.
It's a dangerous existence if you linger too long, its more committed, permanent residents lurking like vampiric vultures.
"They're sun-deniers. They think 'daytime' is government propaganda."
In order to rescue Susan, Esther - already attuned to the night and armed with gothic knowledge - embarks on three essays back-to-back including 3,000 words on Ibsen's 'Hedda Gabler' overseen by a framed photo of a certain cinema critic looking ever so erudite.
"That's right, Dr. Kermode, stare the learning into me."
She flies through those 3,000 words at a furious pace (on a notepad, in pencil!) and some of them might be in the right order until ---
"...The End! Wait, do you write 'The End' at the end of an essay?
"I wish I'd actually read 'Hedda Gabler'."
Max Sarin's also on top, manic form in a flashback after McGraw's given Ed Gemmell's sexual secret away to Susan.
"I had to tell Susan. You don't understand, Ed, she's cruel."
The next three panels show Susan extracting that secret with a barrage of "Tell me tell me tell me tell me. Tellllllll meeeeee..." as she attacks McGraw with a skeleton's claw, right in the face.
There's an equally expressive sequence during a sonic obliteration at a Black Metal gig, the audience's hair blasted back as if in a deafening wind tunnel. Her eyes watering, visiting hell-raiser Big Lindsay concedes defeat by scrawling in eyeliner on the palm of her hand, "CAN WE GO BOWLING?"
For far, far more, please see GIANT DAYS VOL 1, GIANT DAYS VOL 2 and the GIANT DAYS PACK of self-published comics which precedes them both.