Comic Book: Sex Criminals
Sex Criminals is an ongoing (2013-present) comic series by writer Matt Fraction and artist Chip Zdarsky. To say the premise is a little out there would be putting it mildly, it's...sort of a crime/romance/sci-fi story.In 1997, Suzie Dickson was a normal middle-class middle-school girl when her father was killed in a random act of workplace violence. In the aftermath of his death, Suzie's mother began drinking heavily and their relationship suffered; Suzie was particularly bothered that instead of talking, her mother would pretend she was fine and then wait until Suzie left the room to break down. Suzie found that if she drew a bath and ducked under the surface, she couldn't hear anything, and took to doing this at night so she couldn't hear her mother crying.And then one night as she submerged herself, Suzie's "lower region" slid a little too close to the running water, if you get the meaning. Having heard the standard gossip, she understood what was going to happen, and then it did. But as she exited the tub, she realized something truly weird had occurred: accompanied by swirling lights and silence, time had stopped for the world and everyone in it but her.Understandably freaked out and guessing that this probably wasn't normal, Suzie embarked on a weeks-long quest to get answers about what does happen after sex/an orgasm, but repeatedly struck out. Finally, she decided on a regimen of "private research" to document the effects of "The Quiet", as she called it. But after compiling a list of results, she had no idea how to organize it until a trip to the local library introduced her to a method of cataloging the data, which began a life-long fondness for libraries. 16 years later, she's drifting in life a bit, trying to buy as many books as she can from her local library before a bank shuts it down. At a fundraising party she meets an interesting man named Jon, who wears glasses and can quote Lolita; one thing leads to another...
Suzie: Boy, that felt nice.Surprise! Jon can do it too. And what better use for their power than to save their precious libraries by robbing banks? Thus begins one of the more original — if odd — plots in recent comic history. The series has been a hit from day one, and won Best New Series in the 2014 Eisner Awards.It was recently announced that Fraction and Kelly Sue De Connick will be producing a television adaption of the series (as well as Kieron Gillen's The Wicked + The Divine) with Universal through their company Milkfed Criminal Masterminds — no creative talent have been attached to the project as of yet.
Suzie & Jon: How are you here?
Suzie & Jon: How are you here?
- Adults Are Useless: As part of her quest to understand why what happens happens, Suzie turns first to a gynecologist and then her mom. Neither are any help. Somewhat justified in that they have no idea what Suzie is talking about, especially since she's not expressing herself very well, and is reluctant to press the point due to embarrassment.
- Anachronic Order: The first issue begins in the present, then loops back to the past, then to the present again, then the past again, and finally back to the present. Issues that introduce new characters tend to follow this process as well to explain their motivations.
- Anatomically Impossible Sex: In the first issue, from one of the 'bad girls,' clearly illustrating she's got no idea what she's talking about.
- Asexuality: In the third arc of the series, we meet Alix, an asexual person. Not only is their story incredibly touching and heartbreaking, but we learn that their orgasm-power is to FLY. They orgasm/get the thrill of an orgasm through base jumping. Way to introduce a great new character who resolutely decides to kill our heroes.
- Bi the Way: Jon is shown in early issues as having sex with a guy named George. While speculated on for a while by fans, in the letters section of Issue #13, writer Matt Fraction cleared up the confusion by stating that "Jon would categorize himself as bisexual. There were more men than George. I don't know if we'll get to all of them. I guess I thought including George in his list addressed his sexuality."
- Black Comedy: Suzie begins her narration with her and Jon about to be arrested, then goes on to relate the story of her father getting murdered, all the while insisting she's going to start joking soon.
- Break the Cutie: Suzie notes that her "whole world" ended when her father was killed. Later, Jon gets hit with this hard: the Quiet detector/Cumpass prevents him and Suzie from enjoying sex, the relationship starts to cool down, he suffers so much stress and paranoia he gets a breakout of shingles - a conga line of problems that forces him to go back on his medication. Even this isn't a positive step; when on his meds, he's coloured in black and white and is completely numb to everything. And then the Sex Police destroy Suzie's library out of sheer spite.
- Cannot Spit It Out: In issue #10, Jon realizes he's fallen in love with Suzie, but is afraid to tell her.
- Commonality Connection: Several. Jon works for the same bank that Suzie's dad worked for; one of the bank's owners is a member of the Sex Police; Suzie's temporary OB/GYN is a childhood friend of Jon's, and all seven of the main characters(Suzie, Jon, Rachelle, Robert, and the Sex Police) live in the same town.
- Creator Cameo: Zdarsky seems to love this trope. Lots of characters have more than a passing resemblance to Chip. Once he (alone, by the way) won the Harvey Award for Humor, he draws himself in the background of a coffee shop wearing a top hat, smoking a cigar lit off of a burning newspaper, and getting a foot massage from co-creator (and not Harvey-award-winning-humorist) Matt Fraction.
- Deadpan Snarker: The letter column in the back features... questionable sex advice.
- Does This Remind You of Anything?: Played with; the series often uses its sexy parts to reflect Jon and Suzie's emotional well-being.
- Exactly What It Says on the Tin: Suzie refers to the totally silent, frozen-time post-orgasm world as "The Quiet". Almost everything for sale in the sex shop Jon visited as a teen. There are boxes marked "Half a Tit: Because Why Not?" and "Sex Elbow: Have Sex with an Elbow!".
- Experimented in College: Going by the mental 'snapshots' of her former partners, Suzie has had at least one lesbian encounter. Jon has had sex with men, at first as a search for people who can enter The Quiet and then apparently explored more off-panel, as he is confirmed bisexual by Word of God.
- Funny Background Event: See Parallel Porn Titles below.
- Genre-Busting: It's a Romantic Crime Drama with elements of Sci-Fi. It's telling when The Other Wiki simply lists it as "Crime" when it's really not exclusively that.
- Good Bad Girl: Invoked; with the books "present" taking place in late 2013 and it having been probably 10 years since she lost her virginity, Suzie's been with around seventeen other people since then, but this isn't presented as out of the ordinary.
- Good People Have Good Sex: Averted and how. Neither Suzie nor Jon are fundamentally bad people, but they are screwed up, and that factors into their sex lives. Played with in Rachelle and Robert's relationship; she's much more experienced than he is(the implication being that he spent most of college actually doing schoolwork, while she was a party girl), and says he's afraid of being too "vanilla" for her. So far, he hasn't been, as she seems to like being able to take it easy.
- Hormone-Addled Teenager: After the first time, Suzie tries to suppress her urge to masturbate until she can figure The Quiet out. This doesn't last.
- How We Got Here: The first few issues are dedicated to what led to Suzie and Jon having sex in the bank bathroom.
- Improbable Weapon User: The Bus Driver member of the "Sex Police" smacks Jon across the face. With a dildo.
- Interplay of Sex and Violence: The first sex scene in the book is Suzie and Jon trying to enter The Quiet to escape from their latest robbery.
- Introduction by Hookup: Suzie and Jon meet at a party she's throwing to raise funds to save her local library. One thing leads to another, and they find out they have the same ability.
- Lemony Narrator: Suzie and Jon at times.
- Living a Double Life: Suzie is a fairly average woman who likes books. In her spare time she uses her time-freezing power to rob banks so she can support libraries. Most of the people in the book, actually. The Sex Police turn out to be little more than self-appointed busybodies, though they do have a point about Jon and Suzie's antics possibly attracting attention.
- Male Frontal Nudity / Modesty Bedsheet: Suzie grabs the sheet when she panics after realizing Jon wasn't affected by her power. On the other side of the bed, Jon now has nothing to cover himself with.
- Odd Friendship: Suzie and Rachelle didn't get along in middle school, but are roommates in the present.
- Pair the Spares: Rachelle and Robert hook up in issue #10.
- Parallel Porn Titles: Surprisingly, they didn't go with the modern title standards of "This Ain't X" or "X: A XXX Parody" but instead have titles such as Hard-On Fink, The Squirt Locker, Fill Bill, Poon and surprisingly enough, Upream Colon to name a few. Issue 9 has a truly weird one in the form of "The Licked and the Divine," which we actually get to see some of.
- Puberty Superpower: In middle school, Suzie learns that she has the ability to freeze time when she has an orgasm.
- Rage Breaking Point: A few months after she first enters The Quiet, Suzie finally snaps and takes the opportunity to angrily scream out her feelings at her time-frozen mother. The narrating older Suzie notes this isn't the last time this happens.
- Rape as Drama: Rachelle was raped in college by a star athlete who got away with it. At least until Suzie went into The Quiet to plant a huge stash of weed on him, leading to him getting his scholarship revoked and the end of his athletic career.
- Sex as Rite-of-Passage: When Suzie sleeps with her high school boyfriend Craig, she thinks it will be this. Turns out all that happens is that she ends up in The Quiet again.
- Sex Comedy: It's about two people who can freeze time when they orgasm and rob banks to use the money to help support libraries. That's not the most serious of premises.
- Slut-Shaming: Played with; in Suzie's middle school there are a group of "dirty girls", but Suzie ends up being the one who's ashamed to speak to them.
- The Talk: Inverted; in her quest for answers Suzie asked her mother, only to get shot down rather brutally.Suzie's Mom: What, Suzie?
Middle-school Suzie: I had a few questions?
Suzie's Mom: About what, Suzie?
Middle-school Suzie: You know. Sex questions.
Suzie's Mom: Great. Now I'm raising a whore. (takes drink)
Present Suzie: (narration) Strike three.