Comical Amateur: ‘Giant Days’

Comical Amateur: A weekly column where I parse through comic books as someone that has read very few comic books. 

Giant Days Cover

When you think of comic books, chances are fairly good that the first thing that comes to mind is either Marvel or DC. This is perfectly natural, but ultimately unfair to the very idea of comic books as a medium.

Comic books can be very exciting. They can get your blood pumping, jumping from panel-to-panel with a super hero bashing a villain to submission. Giant Days  operates in a completely separate sphere. It is a comic entirely about characters and the mundane yet exhilarating nature  of college.

Created and written by John Allison, Giant Days follows three freshmen women — Esther, Daisy, and Susan — at the University of Sheffield in the fictional town of Tackleford.

The thing that I most often come back to with Giant Days is the strength of the trio of characters and the sharp, witty dialogue that is so consistently strong. Like I said in the previously with Lumberjanes, there’s no real overarching that could keep you coming back. It’s not like a Marvel comic where you buy the next issue to find out how Captain America got out of whatever situation with the Red Skull (I’m just spitballing. That isn’t a reference to anything).

Instead, what will have you buying the next issue of Giant Days is the joy you feel existing in the — at times — absurdist yet undeniably, and sometimes depressingly, real world the trio exist in and the lively banter between them that fills the panels.

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Even when insane, but entirely plausible things are happening, such as the gothic and boy-crazed Esther unexpectedly finding herself on a fratboy page meant only to objectify her and attractive women on campus, it’s the friendship that grounds you in the hysteria. Friends attempting to help other friends in the best way they know how to.

The biggest, and perhaps the thing that propels the comic to being truly important, is the way that it lets every character — including the secondary male characters — feel not exactly broken, but certainly wonderfully flawed in very human ways that allows them to screw up in ways that college kids do.

Esther is defined as a character for a good deal of the run as someone that is utterly incapable of getting out of her own way. It’s fun in the first year to watch the multitude of ways that she comes up to inadvertently make her life more difficult than it should need be. But witnessing a character that we love and is able to display less-than-solid judgment on things like going to class or dating a teacher’s assistant (seriously, Esther, come on) is good to see. Particularly in a landscape where we don’t see college-aged women all that often and when we do, they have to be the embodiment because god forbid that a young person make a mistake, but Giant Days lets them screw up.

It allows the gruff and cynical Susan to blow up her relationship with her boyfriend McGraw by getting too sucked into the political landscape on campus and neglecting her relationship. These are characters that mess up and there are always consequences with enough space in the story to ruminate on what those consequences actually mean for them as a learning opportunity while always coming from an emotional space that never ceases to be relatable.

That’s the real point of Giant Days: even when parts of it are ridiculous, there’s more than enough realism that it fully echoes to the reader, regardless of personal experience. Even if we’ve never known a guy like Ed, we still know what it would be like to be in love with someone that doesn’t love us back. It all comes from a real space.

It’s not necessary to have gone through a sexual realization like the one that Daisy does for that to resonate. She’s confused and we’ve all been confused, even if it wasn’t exactly like that.

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The great thing that Allison does is create characters that feel like people you’ve met and were friends with. They’re so grounded, so realistic that the fact that they are all fictional feels almost secondary. Their world is crazy, but not so much that it feels like it could never happen to you.

Even if you took away all of the relatability and depth from the series, you would still still be left with the Sorkin-level dialogue that never feels anything less than intensely smart and funny. Some of the most fun you can have in a friendship is gently and lovingly lobbing well-placed jabs and this comic completely gets that.

As I’ve said before, I haven’t read a great many comic books. Even with that being said, it’s hard to imagine that I’ll be able to find other comics that are better well made than this one or that I’ll more readily recommend to people in the future.

 

 

 

 

 

Game of Thrones Review: Eastwatch (Season 7 Episode 5)

Game of Thrones Season 7 Episode 5 “Eastwatch” is doing a delicate balancing act of competing pacing urges.

In the past, Game of Thrones has been doing one of two things: laying down track for what’s to come and then taking that buildup and blowing everything up (sometimes literally).

Now, Game of Thrones can’t decide which of the two realms it wants to exist in. The show is fully aware that it only has eight episodes left after “Eastwatch” and can’t really afford to dilly-dally the way that it used to. Every scene has to be precise and purposeful.

Continue reading on Tell Tale TV.

Sunday Best- Week of August 6-12

Introducing “Sunday Best” — a weekly column that will discuss the best episodes of the week. 

1. Game of Thrones, “The Spoils of War”

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This can’t always be said, but Game of Thrones has been really solid this season. Despite some minor pacing issues — that just comes with the baggage of a shortened season and the endpoint on the horizon — these first four episodes have worked really well so far, but none so much as its most recent, “The Spoils of War.”

What works most often about Game of Thrones, but not necessarily something that people point to most often when discussing the series in a water-cooler fashion, is the smaller, more intimate character moments that run throughout. This episode had that in spades — whether it’s Jon and Dany discussing the logistics of a possible alliance; Team Targaryen, plus Jon and Davos, debating their next strategic move in battle; or various reunions among Stark children — while still having that other thing that fans of the series talk most animatedly about: an epic battle at the end featuring Dothraki, Lannisters, and a Dany-ridden-Dragon.

Read my full review at Tell Tale TV.

Game of Thrones is currently airing its seventh season on HBO. 

2. Rick and Morty, “Pickle Rick”

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Rick and Morty, practically since its inception, has been a show that structures itself in such a way that tackles genre tropes and familiar story beats in, quite frankly, insane ways while still often managing a sense of emotional profundity.

Very rarely has this been achieved in the series more thoroughly and, well, destructively than in “Pickle Rick.”

What starts as an episode where Rick, the ostensible mad scientist, turns himself into a pickle essentially to get himself out of family therapy. What follows is a madcap dose of insanity following Rick’s wacky descent into the sewer where he kills a cockroaches and controls its dead body through the exposed brain with his tongue (Yes. No, seriously) and subsequently kills a rat and creates a rat-suit. (Again, completely serious) He then makes his way into a toilet, which just so happens to be in a Russian black-site. A very bloody Die Hard homage takes place.

Finally, Rick makes it to the therapist’s office to get the serum from his family and the monologues that are exchanged between Rick and the therapist have such a pang and heft to them that it’s all the more devastating that they have absolutely no impact on Rick or his daughter.

Genuine slow-clap for Rick and Morty, guys. Well done.

Rick and Morty is currently airing its third season on Adult Swim.

3. Wynonna Earp, “I See a Darkness”

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As previously discussed, Wynonna Earp has been killing it all season. From multiple demon possessions to Wynonna being pregnant, the SYFY series has been throwing a lot of genre deconstruction at the wall and so much of it has been sticking.

Now, with this week’s episode “I See a Darkness,” we get an episode that is firmly rooted in the emotional connection that we have for Nicole and our investment in the relationship between her and Waverly. It’s the best kind of ticking time episode in that what’s anchoring us through the scenes is the character emotion and not the plot itself. We want Nicole to be okay and to live on and not become another example of Bury Your Gays, which the show has promised us will never happen, but this is television so who knows what will happen.

If other shows want tension in character survival, they should take notes from “I See a Darkness.”

Wynonna Earp is currently airing its second season on SYFY.

 

Game of Thrones Review: The Spoils of War (Season 7 Episode 4)

Game of Thrones Season 7 Episode 4 “The Spoils of War” marks the halfway point of the season — and oh, how the time has flown by. But these things do happen when a season is only seven episodes long.

The shortened season can really be felt, too. Gone (for the most part) are the scenes where characters share dialogue where the sole purpose isn’t pushing the narrative along.

Continue reading on Tell Tale TV.

5 of the Best Episodes from July 2017

Every month brings a collection of great television to add to the lexicon. This a non-exhaustive list of some of those episodes.

1. Adventure Time, “Abstract”

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The ever wonderful Adventure Time returned with a quick Adventure Bomb and it was delightful throughout.

The Standout, and most emotionally potent, was “Abstract,” which dealt with Jake’s (voiced by John DiMaggio) abrupt change in appearance from small and yellow to large, blue, and now has five eyes.

It was all deeply unsettling on an aesthetic level but, in typical Adventure Time fashion, took this as an opportunity to explore the ways in which we ought to respond to the changes that we see in our old friends.

Watch it on Cartoon Network.

2. Wynonna Earp, “She Ain’t Right”

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While the second season of Wynonna Earp has been exceptionally solid, its best episode so has been “She Ain’t Right,” which — I know — was in June, but just barely and I make the rules here.

The way in which this season has explored Waverly’s (Dominique Provost-Chalkley) demonic possession and the amount of ridiculous fun and winking that resulted has been a joy. Plus, Chalkley displaying all of her singing chops was a real treat.

Watch it on SYFY on Fridays at 10/9c.

3. Rick and Morty, “Rickmancing the Stone”

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Rick and Morty is the type of show that you feel you have to watch it at least twice to get all of the jokes and references that are thrown about willy nilly. “Rickmancing the Stone” was no different.

Doing a fantastic riff on Mad Max and other post-apocalyptic films of it ilk, it mined great comedic moments while still working at something emotional at its core.

Watch it on Adult Swim.

4. Danger and Eggs, “The Trio”

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Anything that I could possibly say about “The Trio” has already been said by Kristy Puchko at Pajiba much better than I ever could so I would encourage you to just read that. What I will say, however, is that the subtle politics of this episode is ever-so-important and will be viewed as such with enough time. It is truly exceptional, as is the rest of the series.

Watch the complete first season on Amazon.

5. The Bold Type

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Picking just one episode of The Bold Type feels cruel and something I refuse to put myself through when the entire series so far — and this is helped from all of the episodes airing in July — has been quite excellent.

Serving as an exploration of modern-day feminism, female friendships, and the emergence of political activism in female-centric magazines — a la Teen Vogue’s recent coverage — the best thing you can say about the series is how well it moves. It’s the type of show that the forty-odd minute runtime has come and gone and it feels like you’ve only watched ten minutes. That is a feat in-and-of itself.

The point is: go watch The Bold Type.

Watch it on Freeform and Hulu.

Game of Thrones Review: The Queen’s Justice (Season 7 Episode 3)

Game of Thrones Season 7 Episode 3 “The Queen’s Justice” is at the point in the series where plot points are just occurring with almost reckless abandon.

  • Jon Snow (Kit Harrington) meets Daenerys (Emilia Clarke): Check
  • Sam (John Bradley) cures Jorah (Iain Glen) of Greyscale: Check
  • Sansa (Sophie Turner) reunites with Bran (Isaac Hempstead Wright): Check.

You get the idea.

This is something that could potentially present a problem for the series if the individual scenes themselves weren’t so enthralling and compelling to watch.

Continue reading on Tell Tale TV.