I was so caught up in the fun and adventure of Esther, Daisy, and Susan’s lives that I forgot they were in college and that time was limited. With their days at university over, we pick up one year later with Giant Days: As Time Goes By, an oversized one-shot that I wasn’t quite ready to handle. Esther has drifted away from the others, wrapped up in her new job in the city. Could this be in the end of this ride-or-die friendship?
Giant Days: As Time Goes By hits at that in-between time, transitioning from child to adult. While Daisy and Susan seem to have some things figured out, Esther is still struggling to understand what she really wants to do with her life. I can completely understand this as I question that every single day.
This issue also shows how easy it is for friends to drift apart. Even though you shared so much time together during those formidable college years, you can get wrapped up in your own world and lose touch with those you once considered best friends. Daisy and Susan go through a range of emotion. They’re happy to see Esther again because they still care deeply for her, but they’re also angry and upset that she’s ghosted them for months.
Writer John Allison balances this impressive amount of character drama with the same signature humor we know and love from Giant Days. There were many times during this oversized issue that I laughed out loud. Part of it does come from the fact that we know these characters so well and for so long that it feels like we’re part of their inside jokes. The other part is that it’s just really funny.
A good amount of the humor comes from Max Sarin’s artwork. He has a beautifully expressive style that brings out the feelings of every character, highlighting their thoughts and emotions. You get an immediate sense of who a person is based on how they look in a given scene. This can range from the quiet and serene to the absurd and wacky.
I also love how Sarin updated the designs for some of the characters, particularly Daisy. She has this great new haircut that shows how she’s grown and matured. While I will always love her big curly hair, the shorter look works really well for her. Esther looks more grown up as well, which is an odd look for her. At one point she says she’s laid Goth Esther to rest and I let out an audible gasp. You can see how she’s left her macabre roots behind in how she looks now.
Although the characters are always very expressive, Sarin often adds these little highlights around them to really seal the deal. For example, when Daisy is thinking about her girlfriend, Saffy, little hearts float around her. Similarly, as Susan broods, skulls are surrounding her head.
The story comes to a head in a rather bizarre fashion that reminded me a bit of Scott Pilgrim. It goes from normal reality to a bombastic battle between good and evil. Esther’s work “friends” crash this reunion of the university mates, showing their inner darkness. While this felt a little weird and I’m not entirely sure what is real by the end, it does serve as a good way to tie up a number of story elements. The characters face manifestations of their fears and fight them back through teamwork, friendship, and good old-fashioned attitude.
The color shifts for these sequences to match the imaginative landscape on display. Colorist Whitney Cogar fills the page with bright shades, like something out of a video game. This contrasts well with the earlier scenes which took on a more somber tone as the friends have some heart-to-heart conversations. Letterer Jim Campbell adds to these climax with some big bold fonts, underscoring the size and scope of this final battle.
I cannot tell you how much I love Giant Days or how much this book means to me. It’s been a truly special comic filled with heart, laughs, and drama. This finale ties up the plot threads for each of the main characters and even checks in on a number of supporting ones, like a victory lap of sorts. While I’m sad that we won’t be seeing them each month, I’m happy to see they’re in a good place. More importantly, I’m glad that their friendship has withstood time and distance, staying just as strong as ever. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go finish crying over there.