Review: Giant Days #18

Can I just take a moment to reflect on how rare it is to find a book that consistently brings me joy. I don't mean a perfect book (those are rare too) but one that is somehow joyful the first to the final page. Despite loving comics, I find my default reaction to them is ambivalence, and even the books I do like can sometimes become a chore as the issues go on. Loyal readers (who may or may not be imaginary) will remember that I wasn't thrilled with the last couple of Giant Days issues. As such, it pleases me to say that Giant Days #18 reminded me why I like the book so much in the first place. John Allison's series pairs confident wit with an excellent ensemble cast as he once again allows his characters to bounce off of each other in a manner that is energetic but never frenetic. GiantDays_018_A_MainIssue 18 has a looser story than the previous two issues, centering a variety of small plots around the central theme of the last days of school and the impending demolition of the old student dorms (Daisy dejectedly notes that 'living in a 1970s-style youth prison made her a better person'). Esther and Ed are still trying to figure out the legal ramifications of being involved with a essay-fabrication scheme. Wisely, they choose to involve resident crime expert Susan who takes them to a 24-hour law office that would make Saul Goodman proud. This plotline wisely plunges fully into its own ridiculousness, ending, somehow, with an absurdly overblown press conference by the schemes original culprit.

Meanwhile Daisy comes to terms with the end of a school year and the emotions tied up in such things by having a good mope (a method I use on a daily basis). Having just enjoyed 17 issues of school adventures, one can't help but get on board with Daisy's anxiety about saying goodbye, even if it's just for a little while. And on the outskirts of these two main points, the characters interact with each other with the fast-paced patter that defines the book's sense of humor. Special mention goes to a scene that has Daisy and McGraw playing billiards. As far as I can remember those two have never shared a scene, but it's credit to the strength of the characters that they immediately appear to have a warm, familiar chemistry.

Issue 18 also raises my estimation of the work of Max Sarin. While I have been indifferent to some of her cartooning in the past, I'm starting to warm up to Sarin's style, which can be whimsical and energetic. I still don't like all of the facial expressions (which can come off as over simplified and over-exaggerated in equal parts), but Sarin has a grasp of comedic body language that brings a lot of life to the proceedings. One moment sees the three main characters stop mid-dance when the music is turned off and displays three entirely different, hilariously awkward dance poses.

Nothing makes me happier than to see a book I thought was slipping have a strong issue (and it doesn't always happen, see this week's Batman review). Giant Days  #18 is a delight from start to finish, and, most importantly, promises more of the same going forward.

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Giant Days #18 Writers: John Allison Artist:  Max Sarin Colorist: Whitney Cogar Publisher:  BOOM! Studios Price: $3.99 Format: Ongoing; Print/Digital


Oni Press Announces BAD MACHINERY Pocket Editions

Oni Press, Portland’s premier independent comic book publisher, is excited to announce the Pocket Editions of BAD MACHINERY, the widely acclaimed series by Eisner-nominated writer John Allison (Giant Days). Allison’s witty series about English schoolchildren solving mysteries is re-releasing in a new, easier-to-read (and easier to shelve) size.

Allison spoke with School Library Journal's “Good Comics for Kids” about the decision to re-release Bad Machinery in a new, smaller format: “The large format is divisive. They’re great-looking library books. Kids love the big books, adult readers don’t so much, and Bad Machinery has something for both groups. I’ve met readers aged six, and aged 70. I think smaller versions will play well with a large part of that range.”

Originally printed as large 9″ x 12″ books, these smaller 6″ x 9″ books will contain the same content as the larger editions, and will feature brand new covers illustrated by Allison. Bad Machinery will continue to print in both the original larger format and as the Pocket Editions.

The Pocket Edition of BAD MACHINERY VOLUME 1: THE CASE OF THE TEAM SPIRIT goes on sale March 15, 2017, and will be priced at $10.00. It will be available to order through Diamond, Ingram, and Baker & Taylor.

The Case of the Team Spirit introduces readers to Jack, Linton, Sonny, Shauna, Charlotte, and Mildred: six kids navigating the treacherous waters of school and adolescence while also exploring the strange mysteries that abound in their peculiar English town of Tackleford. Jack, Linton, and Sonny look for cures to their football club's unexplainable woes, while Shauna, Charlotte, and Mildred try to find a way for compassion and justice to triumph in the face of die-hard sports fanaticism. But all of them should probably be more concerned with keeping on the good side of their history teacher, Mr. Bough. That is, if he has a good side...