Written and Illustrated by: John Allison
Colors by: Whitney Cogar
Letters by: Jim Campbell
Warning: Mild spoilers.
Giant Days has already covered the holiday season several issues ago and has left Valentine’s Day in the rear-view mirror. But for the December issue we get to find out what happened during Ed Gemmell’s Christmas break in Australia.
Ed travelled across the world to meet up with his new girlfriend Nina; a very athletic, very strong, very Australian girl he met during his extensive physiotherapy sessions. The ‘problem’ is that Ed is not very athletic, or very burly and is not really made for Australian life. His mother says the ominous words “Australia is no place for a Gemmell” and Ed wholeheartedly embraces this motto.
The issue is full of fun and ridiculous Australian escapades and customs, some very specific to Nina’s family. Nina might seem bold and a little rough around the edges in the context of the English, but in Australia she makes a lot more sense. And she does nothing but make Ed feel at home and is very aware of the fact that this is an intimidating place for him to be in.
Ed meanwhile manages to sulk throughout the entire issue. There isn’t a single panel in which he cracks a smile. He is too jet lagged to show excitement about meeting Nina, he is too scared and humiliated in all family situations, and he is unable to enjoy any part of his trip. Not once does Nina get angry about his attitude, she just reassures him, tells him he’s doing fine and even tells him that he gets credit just for showing up.
Let’s quickly remember that Nina’s dad paid for Ed’s return ticket to Australia. So how does he repay this man who wanted to make sure his daughter’s boyfriend could spend his Christmas break with them? By constantly sulking and making a big deal about how he isn’t good enough. In the end he manages to form a bit of a bond with Nina’s dad by helping him with some technical issues. And at the end of his trip he apologises to Nina, not for the way he’s behaved all this time, but for having failed at being properly Australian. Not a great attitude from Ed.
My hope is that the comic addresses some of this. Because so far in this relationship, Nina has been very clear about how into Ed she is. She makes it clear she finds him physically attractive and that she is crazy about him. When there are other men around who are into Nina, she makes it very clear that Ed has nothing to worry about. Yet Ed is constantly intimidated and insecure, constantly feeling like he’s failing to meet her expectations. He seems to completely miss the fact that this girl is into him for him. Which is a common thing for English geeks in their early 20s to feel, and would be interesting if it was explored a bit more. I just really hope John Allison doesn’t let Ed get away with this wallowing in self-pity just because he’s an awkward geek. I’d love to see someone call him out for this.
However, besides the character development of Ed Gemmell, this issue is great fun. Nina’s family dynamics and the rivalry between Australian towns is great. I enjoyed exploring more of Nina’s background and seeing how her life in Australia is full of ridiculous politics and sausages. Because nothing says ‘Christmas’ like a giant barbecue event.
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