Comic Close-Up #1: Sex Criminals (Vol. 1 & 2)

ABOUT THE COMIC

sex-criminals-vol-01-releasesSex Criminals is an ongoing, monthly comic book written by Matt Fraction and illustrated by Chip Zdarsky. The publisher is Image Comics and, if you’re like me and enjoy reading volumes rather than issue-to-issue, you can currently purchase Volume 1 & 2. When I asked people for comic book recommendations, Sex Criminals was one of them. The premise, however, made me wait a bit before I took a chance on it. It’s simple: a comic about two people (Suzie & John) who stop time when they climax; they use this power to rob banks. Um okay. 

WHY I….
enjoyed it and think it’s important

Enjoyment
Narrative voice
The narration of Sex Criminals is personal, humorous, and breaks the 4th wall–in this way it reminds me of Saga. And that’s my aesthetic. I’m a sucker for that kind of thing. A personal favorite moment of mine was the “post-it notes” placed over the song lyrics to fat bottom girls, explaining that the copyright issues were never resolved.

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Panel detailing
There’s humor in the dialogue but I find the panel detailing the funniest aspect of Sex Criminals. Inspect each panel carefully for signs, posters, etc. I was skimming through the volumes today and came across things I’d never noticed before. The photo on the left is a perfect example. It wasn’t until today that I took the time to read the details on the “Single? Looking for love” poster. Well done. And this is just one of many examples.

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Importance
Everything has sex in it and by sex I (almost always) mean the objectification of women: from female super heroes in swimwear to “hot” female NPCs in video games and women in low cut shirts selling me things on television. But few things are ABOUT sex; Sex Criminals is.

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We enter Volume 1 and get Suzie’s perspective, eventually getting John’s as well. Both of them talk about their experiences in sexual discovery (i.e masturbation and having sex for the first time). It’s an extremely honest depiction: discussing the shame/awkwardness of wanting answers and receiving nothing but rejection, judgement, or misinformation. The breadth of sexual experiences included in Sex Criminals is great as well, particularly Jazmine St. Cocaine’s narrative in Volume 2 about her inability/struggles to achieve orgasm.

RECOMMENDED FOR…

  • those interested in a thought-provoking text about sex (in a non-titillating way)
    As I mentioned above, this comic gives us a lot to think about when it comes to sex. As far as sexual content: there’s definitely a lot of nudity (BOTH male and female for a change) but no superfluous sex scenes or anything. Women are never dressed provocatively just to give readers something to gawk at.
  • those looking for humor (regarding relationships and self-discovery)
  • those who want more “*realistic” comic books
    (*I put an asterisk because the word “realistic”is a complicated word. I’ll try to explain what I mean as follows:) Like most series comics, Volume 1 is an origin story. But unlike other comics, our “heroes” don’t get their powers; they discover their powers in tandem with their sexualities, making it “realistic” because all of us can relate to that self-discovery. So if you’ve shyied away from comics because you’re “not into super heroes, scifi, magic etc etc” this one might be grounded in reality enough for you to approach it. Yes, the stop time when you orgasm component is pretty fantastical (i.e not “realistic) but the fact that this story takes place on earth, discusses “mundane” relationship and personal issues, and is about the characters figuring their situation out rather than using their power to, say, fight crime makes it more “realistic” in my opinion.

In closing, I’m not completely in love with the series just yet, but I’m entertained enough to continue with it. I’m not emotionally attached to the characters but I’m curious about how the story will unfold. And in a world where sex is everywhere it’s nice to have a text that unpacks it a bit, giving it a human side. Plus, it’s a flat-out fun read! Overall, Sex Criminals is worth checking out. So put your skepticism aside and pick up Volume 1. You can tell Matt and Chip had way too much fun making this comic book, and we (the readers) reap the benefits.

Bonus: Volume 2 includes two pages of joke sex tips that evolved into a full out book, created by Matt & Chip, called “Just the tips.” Absolutely brilliant. 

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One thought on “Comic Close-Up #1: Sex Criminals (Vol. 1 & 2)

  1. Pingback: Comic Close-Up #2: Ex Machina Volume I: The First Hundred Days | College In The Cornfield

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