Sex Criminals Volume Three: Three the Hard Way – Matt Fraction

Here is another fine volume in this wonderful series. It’s hard to think how this could lose its sparkle.
With another volume comes another character, or more than one as the supporting cast grows. While this is one of the keys to longevity you just can’t get enough of Jon and Suzie and pine a little for when the book was theirs alone.

There is a lot of fourth wall breaking here, so much so it’s surprising the roof hasn’t fallen in. From character’s asides to the reader to full on multipage conversations with the caricatured authors. This can be a little jarring, and also hysterical. It certainly isn’t your average work.

Just as the last volume taught us real world facts about contraception this delivers a dry as a bone(r) lecture on the repression, or at least trivialisation, of female sexuality. It’s hard to image a book where the serious and the sublime have been fused so well.

The art is excellent with new sex powers getting their own unique look. This book fuses the basic lines of a Chris Ware title with the amazing colours of Jordie Bellaire, and out comes something inimitable which fits the emotions of the piece to a T.

Double Thumbs Up!

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Big Hard Sex Criminals (redux) – Matt Fraction

This is a hardback volume that collects the first two trades (or the first ten issues) of the amazing Sex Criminals.

It is only slightly oversized but the hardcover and solid spine is excellent for reading on a table or your lap. Make sure you take the dustjacket off and laugh at the spoof cover underneath.

The extras are all the covers, including reprintings and bookplates and two pages on the artist’s method. There are also two pages of the sex tips – the little one-liners of sex advice sprinkled through the issues. Most valuable of all are close up pictures of the hidden background posters and in-jokes you have just spend the last hour squinting at hard enough to make you blind.

If you already have the issues or trades then there isn’t enough pull to buy this. If you are unsure about getting into the series then pick up the first graphic novel cheaply (you won’t be disappointed). But if you borrowed someone else’s issues and want to own it for yourself then this is definitely a good purchase.

Thumbs Up!

Big Hard Sex Criminals – Matt Fraction

Sex Criminals CollectedThis oversized hardcover collects the first two volumes (issues 1-10) of the series. The stories are wonderful, original and beautifully emotive.

This is definitely what a deluxe edition should be with everything given a good pampering. First take off the dust jacket to reveal a whole spoof book cover underneath. This is the part that all other hardcovers miss and the fake book is hilarious.

The additional bookend and chapter pages are extremely beautiful and everything has a plush feel to it. There are cover galleries and the covers without text are visual masterpieces in themselves. There is a double page on how the art process works, two pages of jokes and a complete detail spotlight from each issue. All those tiny posters and notices chock full of humour you have been squinting at all these issues are blown up and annotated to save you going blind.

Everything a collected edition should be and worth it over the two TPB’s.

Double Thumbs Up!

Sex Criminals: Volume 2 Two Worlds, One Cop – Matt Fraction

Sex Criminals 2So you were blown away by the first volume were you? Well this contains even more goodness continuing the high standards set.

For the story to grow new characters will need to come in and while we adore our pair of lovebirds the new, and some not so new, arrive without drama. It’s both unusual and brave to have a character with a mental illness and it is nice to see that portrayal is realistic and respectful. The humour is still there though.

The art is great and the character’s faces and expressions really bring the emotion to life. It’s great to see the drawings drop realism like a hot potato when abstraction or symbolism will convey the message so much better.

This is a joy to read and has so much potential. It is still head and shoulders about most other titles in terms of originality and emotion.

Thumbs Up!

Sex Criminals: Volume 1 – Matt Fraction

Sex CriminalsGreat literature has always gravitated to universal themes such as life, death, love, etc. It has largely ignored masturbation. Sex Criminals taps into that undiscovered country.

This is an astonishingly original read that starts with a theme we can all recognise, gives us characters we truly care about and makes us laugh as it hooks us in. Everything plays out wonderfully.

There are so many original ideas at work here in everything from the narration to the background details. The fourth wall is broken in spectacular fashion but only in the most appropriate and impressive fashion imaginable.

It is a sophisticated read jumping about in time, not to confuse you, but to allow the characters to flourish and come alive dramatically and effectively. By reshuffling the order of events Fraction uses suspense, foreshadowing and dramatic reveals to maintain a constant and engaging pace so the whole work is so moreish.

The art is like Chris Ware but more Disney, more colour. It is that wonderful warm and human texture that makes you empathise and care for the characters almost instantly. Like Chew there are lots of details hidden in the background and you find yourself squinting to read the comedy video titles on the shelves. It uses digital tools to great effect to create the out of time moments that really contrast the hand coloured blocks of the main narrative. The art knows when depart from reality too, inserting an arrow, diagram or abstract background like a visual wink to the reader.

I don’t think I would change anything about this work. It is original in the extreme, artistic, emotional and addictive, but it might not be for everyone.

Double Thumbs Up!