Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

The Giant Days team reunites to do Wicked Things in this exclusive first look

All images: Boom! Studios

Giant Days captured the hearts of comic readers when it debuted in 2015, telling joyful, hilarious, and deeply relatable stories about young people at university discovering what they want for their futures. Written by John Allison with art by Max Sarin, colorist Whitney Cogar, and letterer Jim Campbell, Giant Days earned major industry accolades with two Eisner Award wins this year, and the team isn’t wasting time getting back together after the title’s ending in October.

Cover by Max Sarin
Advertisement

In March 2020, Boom! Studios debuts Wicked Things, a limited series starring teen detective Charlotte “Lottie” Grote, now an adult navigating a twisty new crime plot. “This has been brewing for a long time,” says Allison. “It’s not so much crime noir—though there are pulpy aspects—as a kind of salute to the crime TV that helped shape me as a writer. There are far too many police dramas, and I feel like the balance for them was lost when the writing brain drain to premium cable away from the U.S. networks began. When you could show anything and say anything, they stopped being simple entertainment and became a little too brutal for me, while the network shows don’t have the subtlety of presentation to use the form as a box for good storytelling any more. I wanted the feeling of an ’80s or ’90s crime drama, an ensemble story that was about bad things but also brought you back safe into the warmth of the television squad room. It’s also a bit like The Mentalist. Or Monk. In short: don’t get me started.”

“I love how overly dramatic you can make everything [in crime noir],” says Sarin. “It has these certain cliches that are fun to break. I blame Star Trek: The Next Generation for this. Captain Picard’s adventures on the holodeck were an absolute pleasure to watch.” Sarin is most excited to draw Lottie Grote and her jet-black, straight-banged head of hair, but a big part of this new project’s thrill is seeing what wild idea Allison comes up with next. “I am eager to work on anything new John throws at me, be that chase scenes or horses. Thanks to his writing I have been able to grow as an illustrator. Perhaps a bit greedy, but I am looking forward to the next curveball with eagerness.”

Wicked Things takes place seven years after Lottie’s last appearance in Giant Days, continuing a character journey that began over 10 years ago in Allison’s Scary Go Round webcomic. “Arguably [Lottie] hasn’t changed at all,” says Allison. “She hasn’t had to change. She is incredibly robust and has bulled her way through situations with the ultimate confidence of someone who is right more often than they’re wrong. But she’s stayed in her comfort zone of teen mystery solving, and not engaged with the painful rituals of growing up that she might have had to negotiate. In the last Bad Machinery story, Lottie is 16, and she’s reached her final form. She’s started dressing like Margot Kidder in the first Superman movie and sitting on people’s desks as if she was in a screwball comedy. When I wrote those scenes, the die was set for what I wanted to do next. But no one needs to have read those stories to start on this one.”

Variant by John Allison
Advertisement

Giant Days is a comic about the mainstream path to adulthood,” says Allison. “Wicked Things is a story about that path being cut off, suddenly, by events, and how Lottie Grote deals with that. Giant Days was a bright, colorful comic about friendship. This isn’t a sitcom. It’s still fun, and it still takes place in that world, with those rules, but it’s not as safe, or cosy. The guard rails aren’t there.”

As Sarin’s first ongoing series, Giant Days taught them to value progress over progression. “I started off drawing things that I thought looked flawless and thanks to this very bad habit I rarely had any backgrounds,” says Sarin. “I used all my time for a single ornament in a panel. I quickly got advice from my editors and colleagues how to add character into the background without too much effort. It took me a long time, but I am slowly starting to follow the rule ‘Draw it how it feels, not how it looks.’

Advertisement

“I also learned that I need to open up when I need time or help,” says Sarin. “For a reserved person it was a damn important lesson. The team has been a lifeline in many ways. Without them I doubt I could have gotten this far. Thanks to the stories in Giant Days, I have also learnt to laugh more at my mistakes. John’s writing has been so down to earth and many of the conflicts met by the characters have touched some aspect in my life. Having drawn the characters’ lives through them has taught me: ‘Dude, it’s fine. Those guys survived it. So can you.’”

The A.V. Club has an exclusive first look at Sarin and Allison’s covers for Wicked Things #1, along with interior pages that highlight Sarin’s outstanding expressions as well as how far they have come with environmental details. Every panel is overflowing with personality, and the creative synergy of Giant Days is still completely intact. “It’s a privilege to work with an artist who can do so much,” says Allison. “Max adds enormously to my ideas and never sounds a false note. I can draw, and while I can’t draw everything perfectly, I can pretty much get what I want out of my scripts. I only started writing in the first place so I’d have something to draw. So to give up my scripts is a little painful, but I never regret giving them to Max, I know that what comes back will be beyond anything I could ever do. They are operating on a super-high level. It’s all you can ask for in this job.”

Advertisement

“[John] is such a nice guy and his writing is fun-tastic,” says Sarin. “He is warm and down to earth and thanks to that he is easy to approach. He gives me a challenge to draw, but also sends his apologies when throwing a crowd scene at me. When we were finishing Giant Days I knew I would do any project with him. He is the perfect partner in crime...I mean, comics!”

Advertisement

Share This Story