Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Read These Comics! - Giant Days

I'm not sure exactly why I picked up the first issue of Giant Days. I don't think that I'd fit into what one might describe as the target audience for this book aside from the fact that I simply love good comic books no matter what they're about. Apparently, it used to be a webcomic by writer/artist John Allison. The print edition is written by Allison and drawn by Lissa Treiman (an awesome talent if ever there was one). I never heard of it before, so it wasn't that which made me pick it up. Essentially the story is about a group of college girls in England and their relationship with each other. If you're familiar with Strangers in Paradise it's like that minus all of the darker moments and detours into crime/suspense. So, I'm sure that the creators were thinking that their main audience would consist of 41-year-old men.

What can I say? Good stories are good stories, and good comics are good comics. I'm guessing that it was Treiman's art that caught my attention and made me want to give this series a chance. That's probably true for the most part whenever I pick up a first issue of a new series. I care about the writing too, but it's harder to get a sense of that when you're just flipping through a book at the store. With that said, it's the story that's keeping me coming back for more, and it's also the reason why the latest issue was near the top of my stack when I sat down to read today's new releases. (They're up to issue four of six, by the way. If you can't get a hold of the back issues, I'm sure that a collected edition will soon follow when the entire series is released.)

I've been reading a lot of comics lately, which isn't a problem because I'm also really enjoying what I'm reading. However, I find myself reading a lot more creator-owned books, which means that I'm being introduced to a lot of new characters. In other words, I can't name the characters off the top of my head, as the superheroes of Marvel and DC Comics have filled up that particular bit of head space for learning the names of comic book characters. While I may not remember the names (but you can find out by looking at the image up above). I do remember each of them by their looks and personality types. Even though we're only on the fourth issue, they're all quite familiar to me by this point, and I can count on them to be true to their unique personalities.

What's also great about this series is that even though my head is cluttered with various characters, stories, and plotlines, I feel like I can easily get back into the swing of things with each issue. Pretty much every issue is self-contained, and I imagine that if you picked up the third issue, you'd be able to follow along just fine and not feel too lost. While I'm sure that this series will reward me even further when I sit down to read all of the issues in one sitting (which I very much plan to do) it's nice to be able to enjoy what's going on without having a very good recall.

All of this is, no doubt, an attribute of the writer, but let me gush about the art again. There is just so much life and personality to each one of these characters. The storytelling is always very clear, and it's never confusing as to what's going on from one panel to the next. Each character also has her own body language, and even if they all looked exactly the same, I could probably tell them apart based on that alone.

Perhaps I'm going too far, but I'd put the sense of timing and the fluidity of perceived motion up there with the likes of Bill Watterson (Calvin and Hobbes) and Carl Barks (Uncle Scrooge). I'm not sure whether John Allison describes in detail exactly how he wants everything laid out or whether Lissa Treiman makes those decisions, but either way it captures that special something that only can be done in comics.

I don't know what's next for this particular pair of creators. I wouldn't mind seeing more Giant Days. I also would be interested to see what else they can do, either together or apart.


Brad said...

Hi Lance,

Fellow "Giant Days" fan / probably not the target audience - here. For anyone who enjoys this series, John Allison has a tonne of stuff in a similar vein (albeit drawn by him) at You might want to try from the start of his latest story "Space is the Place" here: although there's several book-length "cases" under the "Bad Machinery" banner which I find delightful. His "Scary Go Round" and "Bobbins" stories share some characters but since they stretch back to the 90s, the backstory and slowly evolving art-style can be a little daunting).

And you have a great eye for artists, Lissa Treiman (who I first saw years ago
doing "Scary Go Round" fan art) has an exceptional grasp of body language and dynamic movement that's head and shoulders above the industry norm. She's also a storyboard artist for Disney and I've felt that her animation background really shines through her work!

Anyway - just glad I'm not the only one championing this really talented team, as I would dearly love to see more work from them in the future!

- Brad

Lance Johnson said...

I read about how she works in animation - not so shocking that I compared her to Carl Barks (who worked in animation before moving on to all those Duck books).

Glad to see it's not just me out there who's digging this stuff.