In September 2016 I started graduate school, and I was immediately stressed. I had papers to write, long research articles to read, and lectures to watch. I handled my stress by eating massive amounts of Reese’s Pieces and by reading. One day I decided to read a comic that had been sitting on my bookshelf for years, a comic that would support me through all three years of graduate school. The comic was Giant Days by John Allison.
Giant Days started as a webcomic in 2011, before it was picked up by Boom! Studios. The first issue was released on March 18, 2015, and 54 issues and four specials later it came to end on October 30, 2019. Giant Days tells the story of three college students, Daisy, Esther, and Susan. Daisy is sweet and positive. She’s always there to lend support to her friends. Daisy is the type of character who will take care of baby birds after seeing their mother killed by a cat. Esther is confident and strong. She’s not afraid to stand up for herself and those she cares about. She’s the type of character who won’t just accept being called a drama queen by her friend. Esther also appears in Allison’s comic Scary Go Round. Susan is smart and a bit grumpy. She might not say all the right things to her friends, but if they need her, she’s there. She’s the type of character who will stand up for her friend when a gross website posts pictures of her without permission.
Giant Days appealed to me as a stressed-out student for a few different reasons: one was the wonderful friendships it shows. This comic has some of the best female friendships I have ever seen. I would love to be friends with Daisy, Esther, and Susan. I want to be friends with them because they joke around, they listen to each other, and they support each other. But I appreciate that the comic also shows the more challenging parts of friendship. It shows how Susan’s grumpiness can sometimes lead to her unintentionally hurting her friends’ feelings. Esther’s protectiveness of Daisy is well intentioned, but she doesn’t always understand that Daisy can take care of herself. Friendships are complicated and Giant Days show that. At the end of the comic, it shows how challenging it can be to remain friends with people when school ends. It can be hard to open up to friends from a distance, but Daisy, Susan, and Esther show that if you make the effort to reach out, friends will be there to listen and help.
I’m a big fan of romantic comedies and Giant Days features some entertaining love stories. Susan has a classic “will they won’t they” with her old friend, McGraw. Their relationship hits all the classic “will they won’t they” road blocks, past hurt, new love interests, and the inability to admit how they feel. I loved every second of seeing if Susan would one day realize that McGraw is a good person who genuinely cares about her. Susan and McGraw might not always be the best at communicating with each other, but at the end of a long day McGraw will always be there to make Susan lasagna. Giant Days also shows Daisy exploring her sexuality; she starts to wonder if maybe she is attracted to women. Daisy’s romantic storyline has many ups and downs, but she always has the support of Susan and Esther. Susan and Esther never run away from Daisy when she asks questions about her sexuality; they always offer advice and support. The comic shows how important it is to have friends who will listen and not be judgmental when you are trying to be honest about who you are.
The final reason I love Giant Days and why it helped me so much as a stressed student, is that it shows how challenging it can be to be a college student. Daisy goes to class while suffering from the flu because it is hard to take a break when school keeps you so busy. Esther has to learn how to be responsible with money and realize that she can’t spend money on everything she wants, like fancy boots that look like monsters. I love that the comic talks about the importance of doing stress relief activities. Daisy can teach readers to embrace the unique ways people deal with stress when she talks about her habit of watching napkin folding videos to handle her stress. Most importantly the comic shows you don’t need to know exactly what you want to do when school ends; there is nothing wrong if it takes time to find the right path.
Giant Days is a comic I recommend all the time because I truly believe everyone will find something to love about it. It doesn’t matter if you are the same age as Susan, Daisy, and Esther, you can relate to their friendship challenges, their relationship struggles, and their journey to find out who they are and what they want to do. Giant Days can teach everyone about being a better friend and not being afraid to let those friends see the good and bad sides of you.
If you are interested in reading Giant Days, you can check to see if your local library has it. If you have a ComiXology Unlimited account, all 14 volumes are available. If you want to try it out before reading a full volume of it, the Boom! Studios website has a free preview of it available.
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