Put on some sultry tunes, turn the lights down low (not too low though, still need to read that comic) and pour yourself a fine bourbon because this week we’re pairing Sex Criminals. Whether you’re flying solo, coupled, tripled or whatever it’s the perfect read for Valentine’s Day.
Written by Matt Fraction with art by Chip Zdarsky, you can buy the first five issues in Volume One: One Weird Trick. This volume is a girl meets boy story of two twenty somethings, Suzie and Jon, that can stop time when they orgasm. They do what any new couple with sex time stopping powers might do and rob banks. But Sex Ciminals is much more than a fun romp in a sexually super powered fantasy. A plot like this could easily go the way of ridiculous, over the top, campy comedy, however creators Matt and Chip portray relationships and sex in a very real and grounded way. It’s that superb character work that keeps readers coming back for more. Overall, it’s a comedic tale but also touches on serious topics such as mental health issues. If you’re looking for comic book erotica this certainly isn’t it, but it definitely has mature subject matter and scenes so please don’t accidentally mix this in with your kids Spiderman comics.
Issues 1 and 2 are about the experience of discovering sex as an adolescent, first from the Suzie’s point of view and then Jon’s. For each, their first masturbating experience lead to the discovery of their time stopping powers and starts their search to understand why. Although their search stems from having a fantastical power, it’s no different than anyone else’s awkward attempts at understanding sex. Suzie tries asking the “sluts” at her school, Jon searches the internet, among other misguided tries. Each believes that they are the only ones that can stop time, until they meet each other at a fundraising party for Suzie’s library.Their relationship quickly blossoms in issue 3 and the two become inseparable. Thoroughly enjoying their powers together, Jon suggests they rob banks to get the money to save Suzie’s library. Everything is going well, until the sex police show up. Cue the foreboding music!
The art in Sex Criminals has great gags in the backgrounds, especially the scenes set in the sex shop. I wish the collection of Mysterious Oils of Eastern Canada truly existed. The dreamy, colourful overlay that’s used when time stops is a bit much sometimes but I find this gets toned down to the right amount as the story progresses. Where Chip really excels is the facial expressions of each character, he just absolutely nails “kegel face”. The writing of Sex Criminals is great and often breaks the fourth wall which I find works really well for this story. The way Matt writes Suzie and Jon’s talk about their sex lives really captures the awkwardness of the moment without ever getting too embarrassing and never once is a character chastised or made to feel shame for their misadventures in sex.
This same respect is present in the letter column in each issue. It’s an open space where fans (we call ourselves brimpers) write in to tell their embarrassing sex stories, to show their appreciation of the comic and to get advice. It’s also damn hilarious. So much so there’s a whole separate book dedicated to the letters people have written called Just the Tips. I got it as a stocking stuffer this past Christmas, it was perfect! I used to only buy volumes of comics because it’s an easier way to purchase and I wasn’t very much interested other letter columns, but I got so addicted to Sex Criminals that I needed the next installment right away. I am so glad I started buying single issues because I enjoy the letters just as much as reading the story.
So what whisky do I suggest for reading Sex Criminals? Nothing goes better with sexy fun times than a nice bourbon. Bourbon is generally sweeter than rye and single malt whiskies which makes it perfect for sweet loving. Bourbon is made with at least 51% corn which is what give it the sweeter taste. The rest of the mash can be made of rye, barley and/or wheat. If you’re more of the cinnamon heart type on Valentine’s day, I’d go for a bourbon with a higher rye content like Basil Hayden’s, Four Roses or Woodford Reserve. If you want to keep it sweet this weekend I’d choose something with more wheat, in which case you can’t beat the classic Maker’s Mark. If you’re feeling adventurous in this weekend of love, try a pickleback. It’s when you chase bourbon with pickle juice. It sounds weird but if you have some really good home made pickles the salty juice pairs perfectly with sweet delicious bourbon.
I can’t recommend this series enough and if you get hooked volume 2 comes out Feb. 25th. I’m sure you’ll fall head over heels for this comic and join the rest of us brimpers!
BONUS: Try to find all the innuendos! Try to guess which are intentional and which aren’t!