Daisy and Esther’s university days are coming to an end while Susan still has the rest of medical school ahead of her. This quirky trio is breaking up to begin the next phase of their lives. They’re becoming adults and leaving the petty trials and tribulations of college life behind them. I’m not crying. You’re crying.
Giant Days #54 is bittersweet. It is another solid entry that makes me smile from ear to ear, but it’s the penultimate chapter in the lives of these characters that I’ve grown to love. I think writer John Allison understands that, carefully adjusting the emotional elements of this issue so as not to overwhelm the audience. There are times where I definitely teared up and there are others where I was laughing out loud.
Allison works to tie up so many loose ends in this issue. We see Esther’s last day at the comic shop, hopefully the final time we see Dean Thompson, and a rekindling with Emilia. That’s all mixed in with a heartwarming dinner among the group as a whole, a humorous summer spent with the three girls in a single apartment again, and an emotional encounter between Esther and her parents.
This last one really stands out as it shows how much Esther has grown as a person over the course of the series. Here she is graduating with a first class degree (which is a term I had to look up. It’s basically honors.) and her parents are freaking out about her back tattoo. All three of them are having trouble coping with this next stage in Esther’s life. It leads to a beautiful moment with the trio.
This situation also leads to some of the best artwork in Giant Days #54. Esther usually looks aloof and carefree, but when she’s questioned about the tattoo she quickly reminds her parents why they’re there. Artist Max Sarin twists Esther’s face into this angry scowl as she spits out some words. Skulls spiral out of her. This happens once more when she walks across the stage to accept her degree.
Letterer Jim Campbell adds to this with a pitch perfect delivery. You instantly understand the menace Esther is putting forth by how the words are displayed. They’re bold and precise.
Sarin brings an emotional depth to every image in the book. There’s a slight cartoonish quality to some shots, but that only serves to enhance the characters’ personalities. This adds to the personal investment with these folks because you can better identify with them based on how they’re acting. It’s hard not to get swept up in their lives and conversations and that’s attributed in no small part to how Sarin portrays them.
This unmistakable warmth is brought on by colorist Whitney Cogar. The characters feel more real because of the welcoming palette used for them and their world. Anything can happen in this place, not because of magic or technology, but because of the sheer will of these people.
While I was teary-eyed reading Giant Days #54, I’m probably going to be balling while reading the true finale, As Time Goes By. Daisy, Esther, and Susan mean a lot to me so it’s hard to come to grips with the fact that this is one of the last comics I’ll see them in. Fortunately, this is a beautiful book that helps soften the blow that the series is coming to an end. I hold Giant Days up as a shining example of what the comic book medium is capable of. It’s wonderful in every way.