An X-Rated Comic That's Actually Worth Reading
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE
Because even adults can benefit from some sex ed.
By Fiona Zublin
Superhero powers are always evolving; first it was radioactive venom, then armored suits — and now erections.
How it goes: When Jon and Suzie, the vaguely unfulfilled 20-something protagonists of the comic book series Sex Criminals, say that time stops when they orgasm, they’re not being hyperbolic. Time actually stops. And in that post-ejaculation period of dopey-eyed bliss, the couple can wander through a paused world doing whatever they like, including robbing banks to save Suzie’s beloved library. Then they discover other people can stop time too — and that’s when things get really, um, juicy.
“The whole series is a really entertaining look at some very messy internal territory.”
Sex Criminals, created by Canadian artist Chip Zdarsky and award-winning writer Matt Fraction (he also worked on Marvel’s Hawkeye, Uncanny X-Men and The Invincible Iron Man), is unabashedly adult without being pornographic; it’s filled with dirty puns and ridiculous bank-robbery capers but still manages to gently handle depression, loneliness and the vagaries that accompany teenage sexual awakening, like the sequences that illustrate the numbing but sometimes necessary world of antidepressants or the sad yet exhilarating emotions that come with a breakup. There’s even an advice column in the back of each issue that’s not only a hilarious sexual confessional but also a reassurance that you’re not the only one struggling with these dilemmas. Further proof that the comic, which is two volumes old, isn’t just two dudes making dick jokes: Sex Criminals was nominated for a Hugo Award in 2015 and won the Eisner Award for Best New Series in 2014. “The whole series is a really entertaining look at some very messy internal territory,” says comics critic Douglas Wolk, who has written for The New York Times and Rolling Stone.
There have also been criticisms: the characters are annoying; the plot drags; and the love story isn’t believable. And obviously, Sex Criminals isn’t going to be for everyone. The illustrations depict sexual encounters in graphic detail, which some who consider comics the territory of the 18-and-under say is inappropriate. On the other hand, Wolk thinks the series should be included in high school sex ed.
And since no comic book is complete until it’s turned into a show, Universal TV announced last February that it’s working with Fraction on several projects. First in the queue is a Sex Criminals television series. The producers are going to need some superpowers of their own to make this one cable-friendly.