Comic Corner: “Sex Criminals”

“Sometimes it felt very real.  Sometimes it felt very silly.  Like a mistake.  Sometimes it felt important and adult.  Some of it was exploratory.  Sometimes it just felt like something to do instead of falling asleep alone.  And sometimes it was entirely forgettable.” 

-Suzie, the main character of “Sex Criminals,” describing her sex life.

 Even though it’s something that quite a few people throughout history have enjoyed, it seems like mainstream culture still doesn’t quite know what to think about sex.

There’s an enormous and ever-present air of awkwardness and trepidation that seems to surround any and all discussions of sex in modern society, yet, most people hold fast to the belief that sex is an undeniable and irrepressible part of human nature.

Despite “sex sells” being one of the oldest marketing cliches known to man, you’d have a hard time trying to find a work of art and/or entertainment that features sex as the primary focus that doesn’t:

(A.) Require you to ask the creepy cashier if you can see the items “behind the counter.”


(B.) Fill your computer’s hard drive with a disturbing amount of viruses.

No matter how you look at it, there’s a massive paradox that permeates modern American media: sex is seen as basically the Holy Grail of the human experience, with all self-respecting R-rated movies and M-rated video games finding a way to shoehorn it in to give off the impression of being “adult,” whereas the rare story that focuses heavily or solely on the act of sex, and/or the emotional politics behind the act (2013’s “Blue is the Warmest Colour” being a prime example), are typically wrote off as pornography.

People today love sex in the media when it plays the role of instant visual gratification or window-dressing to a larger and more comfortable fantasy, but tend to get extremely uneasy when faced with sexuality in its stark, naked glory and asked to form a mature opinion.

This is why we need more books like “Sex Criminals,” or maybe just more issues of “Sex Criminals” (both would be fine, really).

The first in what is hopefully a long series of love-children from comic book superstar Matt Fraction and up-and-coming artist Chip Zdarsky, “Sex Criminals” follows the misadventures of Suzie and Jon, two halves of a hopeful young couple who share a lot of similarities: a love for art, a passion for books, the ability to freeze time itself whenever they have an orgasm, etc.

United for the first time with somebody with their reality-bending orgasms, Jon and Suzie do what any other young adults in their situation would be tempted to do: they rob banks in an attempt to simultaneously get back at the corporate bank that Jon works for and get funds for Suzie’s failing library.

You might think that everything about that sounds ridiculous, and you would be absolutely right in saying that. Whereas most writers seem to feel that writing about sex can only be done by picking one of two extremes: serious, emotional explorations of sexuality, or raunchy, immature farces where the only end result of sex is a flaccid punchline about bodily functions, Matt and Chip skillfully accomplish the task of finding a middle-ground between the thoughtful and the silly.

It’s about that time in the review where I should try to shoehorn in a spiel about how this book is “about more than just sex,” and while that could definitely be argued, I think it would be a disservice to the book to try to make its roots in sexuality sound shameful, especially when the book flaunts its hilarious brand of sexuality so bravely and shamelessly.

“Sex Criminals” succeeds in a way that nothing else currently on the market does: it bridges the gap between serious storytelling and truly-funny humor seamlessly, and it actually makes the intimacy between two human beings interesting again.

“Sex Criminals” is currently an ongoing series:

Big Hard Sex Criminals” (256 pages, collects issues 1-10)

Sex Criminals: Vol. 1: One Weird Trick” (128 pages, collects issues 1-5)

Sex Criminals: Vol. 2: Two Worlds, One Cop” (128 pages, collects issues 6-10)