WARNING: The following list deals with subject matter not appropriate for children. Reader discretion is advised.
To call Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky’s Image series “Sex Criminals” irreverent would be like calling the Red Wedding from “Game of Thrones” a mildly unpleasant event. In other words, it’s a massive understatement. For those not in the know, “Sex Criminals” follows John and Suzie, two people who can stop time when they orgasm. Yep, that’s the premise, and believe us when we say it only gets weirder (and ruder) from there.
Sure, the series may be one of the most honest and sincere explorations of sex and sexuality to ever grace comic book pages, but that doesn’t stop Fraction and Zdarsky from cramming as many sex jokes and as much toilet humor as they can into each issue. Whether it’s in the form of Chip Zdarksy’s hilarious background jokes or Matt Fraction’s snarky dialogue, “Sex Criminals” is all about pushing the envelope. With that in mind, the team at CBR have compiled the series’ edgiest, cheekiest and downright hilarious moments for your reading pleasure.
15. THE QUEEN COVER
Much to writer Matt Fraction and Artist Chip Zdarsky’s surprise, the first story arc of “Sex Criminals” flew off the shelves leading to multiple printings. With these printings came (you guessed it) more covers, including a third cover of “Sex Criminals” #3 that spoofed Queen’s legendary “Bohemian Rhapsody” video clip.
The cover featured series protagonists Jon and Suzie; Suzie’s Flatmate Rachelle; as well as series villain Myrtle Spurge (yep, that is her actual name), all dramatically bathed in black. Fittingly enough, Suzie took the place of Queen front-man, Freddie Mercury, on the cover.
Easily the least sexually charged item on this list, the Queen cover is not only great to look at, it also happens to be another offence in the comics’ short history of ripping off Queen. Given Fraction and Zdarsky’s already legally questionable use of a Queen song in issue #3, the cover wasn’t merely a homage; it was a cheeky poke at the bear.
14. THE “READING IS SEXY” POSTER
Well before he was writing “Howard the Duck” for Marvel, “Sex Criminals” artist Chip Zdarsky was busy working on another animal, a very different sort of animal. That animal, for those of you playing at home, is the very, very creepy frog that adorned the wall of Suzie’s classroom in “Sex Criminals” #1.
Emblazoned with the timeless motto “reading is sexy,” this buxom amphibian brought with it only questions. Piles and piles of questions. Questions like: “why is reading sexy?”, “what does a frog have to do with reading?”,”why on earth does it have boobs?” and “wait, is Chip off his medication again?” At the time of writing this, we have yet to have any answers to these important questions.
13. ASS JEEVES
Unable to resist pandering to all the Ask Jeeves fans out there, Fraction and Zdarsky gave the obsolete search engine their own respectful homage. Gracing the pages of “Sex Criminals” #2, the adult search engine “Ass Jeeves” can bring you anything your filthy mind desires and all at a whopping 14.4k speed. The future is here!
Touted as the “world’s BEST search engine for erotic googling,” Ass Jeeves features the titular butler wearing what can only be described as a classy pair of ass-less chaps.
The saucy search engine was featured in Jon’s story of sexual awakening and was a hilarious metaphor for the difference between male and female sexuality. In “Sex Criminals” #1, Suzie discovers her sexuality in a relaxed and private setting, but for Jon and his friends, their discovery takes place in the form of using Ass Jeeves in the school library. In a series filled with countless dirty puns and memorable background gags, this one stands out not only for its solid pun work, but also for its importance to the story.
12. HARD-ON FINK
Coming in at number 12, it’s the porn version of the movie Chip still hasn’t seen, “Hard-On Fink.” A playful send up of the Coen Brothers 1991 period film “Barton Fink,” Hard-On Fink is exactly the same, only with sex and hilarious innuendo filled dialogue. In fact, “Sex Criminals” writer, Matt Fraction, had so many ideas for the “Hard-On Fink” dialogue that he included a whole page of outtakes in the first collected edition. Turns out he is a bit of a fan.
Although memorable, the appearance of “Hard-On Fink” is a rather short moment that facilitates a larger pervy montage. Suzie and Jon use the film to get freaky and stop time before proceeding to cause havoc in a sex shop. Cue sex-toy throwing, blow-up dolls, boob glasses and more fake porn parody titles than you can take in at once. For allowing that hilarious montage to occur, we owe “Hard-On Fink” a heartfelt thank you.
11. SUZIE AND JOHN’S LAST NAMES
“Sex Criminals” can be many things. It’s funny, honest, edgy and at times even thoughtful. However, one thing it certainly isn’t is subtle. Yep, who would have thought a book with the word “sex” in the title could be a tad bombastic and over the top?
This lack of subtly occurs in many places. Places like the background gags and the countless phallic symbols Zdarsky manages to sneak into each page all feed into this; however, none are more on the nose than the jokes hidden in Jon and Susie’s last names.
Johnson and Dickson, Jon and Suzie’s respective last names, are obvious phallus jokes. Yep. It certainly isn’t subtle or clever, but it’s there; another dirty Easter egg waiting to be found in the pages of “Sex Criminals.” Admittedly, these two not-so-secret phallus jokes are hardly surprising given the series’ strong focus on exploring every aspect and detail of Jon and Suzie’s sex life.
10. JON’S THERAPIST RESEMBLES SERIES ARTIST CHIP ZDARSKY
“Sex Criminals'” #8 introduces a new character in the form of Jon’s unconventional therapist. This therapist, by complete coincidence I am sure, just happens to mildly resemble the series artist Chip Zdarsky. To clarify, by mildly resemble, I do mean he looks exactly like Chip Zdarsky. Well except for all the grey hair, but give it time.
While struggling with depression, Jon encounters the Zdarsky look-a-like eating chicken fingers in a shopping centre food court. After a helpful discussion in which the therapist angrily points a chicken finger at Jon, Jon decides to go into therapy. Although a critical plot point in the story, the scene also raises the question as to whether this was how “Sex Criminals” creators Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky met. Was Matt Fraction sadly stumbling through a food court when he met Chip Zdarsky? Was Chip Zdarsky eating chicken fingers at the time? Was he even wearing pants? So many questions!
9. THE TERRIBLE SEX POSITION MONTAGE
If there’s one scene that encapsulates what “Sex Criminals” is all about, it is the scene in issue #1 where a teenage Suzie asks Rachelle, the “most popular girl” in East View Middle School, about sex. What follows is the now infamous montage of bizarre sex positions all brought to life by crudely drawn illustrations. This scene brought us all kinds of fake maneuvers and positions, but it’s brimping that would go on to become the series’ biggest contribution to comic book (and possibly sex) culture, with fans of the series referring to themselves as “brimpers.”
Apart from a truly inspired array of off-putting sex positions, this scene reminds us just how terrible being a teenager is when it comes to sex education. It’s like being trapped in a sea of misinformation where the only people willing to tell you anything don’t know anything themselves. Instead of learning about the intricacies of sexuality, you will probably just walk away with a list of made up sex moves.
8. THE SEX TOY SWORD FIGHT
When John breaks into Myrtle Spurge’s sex dungeon, things end the only way they possibly could: with a high-stakes sex toy fight. Taking place in the pages of “Sex Criminals” #7, Jon’s one man war against the sex police climaxes (no pun intended) with our horny hero fighting a sex police stooge. Jon’s weapon of choice was of course an oversized sex toy that he wielded as a sword.
In what we can only assume was intended to be another respectful homage, Jon’s combat dildo resembles Darth Maul’s lightsaber from “Star Wars: The Phantom Menace.” The hilarious phallic fencing that ensues carries a surprising amount of emotional gravity as Jon vents his pent up frustration, anger and confusion on the sex police goon, one wallop at a time. The fight soon degenerates to down and dirty wrestling, with smaller toys and other bizarre implements flying across the room as Jon and the sex police goon grapple across the floor.
7. THE BRIMPCEPTION COVER
It all started with one innocent “Sex Criminals” cover. In an attempt to keep up with demand, “Sex Criminals” #1 went to a fourth printing, and with it came a new cover. This new cover featured series creators Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky posing awkward family photo style while holding a first print run copy of “Sex Criminals” #1. Simple enough right?
Things took a turn for the complicated when two brimpers (fans of the comic, not the move), Julliet and Heather, took a picture of themselves mimicking the fourth printing cover while holding a copy of said cover. Things only escalated from there when Fraction and Zdarsky took a photo of themselves holding the picture of Juliet and Heather while mimicking their original pose from the “Sex Criminals” #1 fourth printing cover. Confused yet?
The saga eventually resulted in seven photos, the most impressive being an official “Sex Criminals” #6 brimpception variant that featured a picture of Juliette and Heather holding a picture of Zdarsky and Fraction holding a picture of Juliet and Heather. To really drop the mic, Zdarsky and Fraction only had 100 copies of the cover printed, all of which they shipped to the comic store where Heather and Juliette worked.
6. THAT CERTAIN IRON THRONE HOMAGE
The phrase “winter is coming” took on new meaning when Zdarsky and Fraction decided to work in a subtle little “Game of Thrones” Easter egg into “Sex Criminals” #7. I’m kidding of course. In true “Sex Criminals” style, the reference is anything but subtle.
Sitting in the corner of Myrtle Spurge’s sex dungeon, amongst all the horrifying sex toys and countless dirty puns, was a life size iron throne. Only, instead of being made from melted swords, Myrtle’s throne was made from piles and piles of, well, you can see what’s in the picture. In what is no doubt the least hygienic way to store your adult implements, the toys were arranged into an exact replica of the most sacred of chairs from HBO’s popular fantasy series.
5. THE ANIME ANGEL
In a book about people with weird sex-based powers, it doesn’t get much weirder, or creepier, than the sex power manifesting in Douglas D. Douglas. When we first meet Douglas in “Sex Criminals” #11, he seems like a regular guy. He works a normal job, drives a normal car and lives a normal life. Also, his seed happens to turn into a sparkling anime angel.
Douglas’ anime angel is a powerful being, for lack of a better word, that possess the power of flight, a childish giggle and a whole mess of powerful tentacles. Not surprisingly, things do not go well for Jon and Suzie when they try and fight Douglas’ “semen demon.” Imbued with super-human strength, the angel’s’ gooey tentacles throw Jon and Suzie around Douglas’ house, ripping through wood and plaster. Our sticky heroes eventually win the day by electrocuting the beast, reducing it to a disgusting puddle.
4. THE POSTER OF CHIP ZDARSKY WITH A MULLET
In what we can only assume is an attempt to draw himself into the series as many times as possible, “Sex Criminals” artist Chip Zdarsky makes a cameo appearance in Jon’s apartment in the opening pages of “Sex Criminals” #6. Appearing only for a brief two panels, Zdarsky’s divine visage adorns Jon’s wall in the form of a poster. Completely superfluous, the poster adds nothing more to the scene than the inclusion of Zdarsky’s face.
On the poster, Zdarsky appears in a side profile, staring off thoughtfully into the distance below the word “life.” In an improvement on the actual Zdarsky, poster Zdarsky has a glorious mullet flowing down the back of his head. There’s a party in the back alright.
What makes this moment particularly cheeky is its brevity. Blink and you will miss it. It’s a fun little reward for the attentive (and possibly Zdarsky obsessed) reader as well as a reminder that Zdarsky is having a whole lot of fun drawing this series.
3. THE LICK-ED AND THE DIVINE
In their never ending faux-feud with “The Wicked + The Divine” creators Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie, Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky took things in a saucy direction with their porn parody, “The Lick-ed and the Divine.”
For the uninitiated, “The Wicked+ The Divine” is another Image comics series written by Kieron Gillen and drawn by Jamie McKelvie about celebrity worship and the gods of various mythologies. The “Lick-ed and Divine,” on the other hand, is something else entirely.
Appearing in “Sex Criminals” #9, the “Lick-ed and the Divine” was the first shoot Jon’s adult movie crush, Jazmine St. Cocaine, ever worked on. The scene features Jasmine dressed as Amateurassu, a “clever” play on Amaterarsu, and a Lucy look-a-like going at it while a very focused Kieron Gillen looks on.
2. THAT TIME MATT FRACTION AND CHIP ZDARSKY APPEARED IN THE THIRD STORY ARC
No strangers to breaking the fourth wall, Matt fraction and Chip Zdarsky took their meta jokes to a whole new level in “Sex Criminals” #14. When writer Matt Fraction is unable to write a tricky scene in which Suzie and Jazmine St. Cocaine have a heated argument, artist Chip Zdarsky comes to the rescue by drawing the phone call between himself and Fraction, in which Fraction laments his problem. That’s right, instead of writing and drawing a scene the “Sex Criminals” creators depicted themselves talking about how they couldn’t write and draw that scene.
In the exchange, Fraction details what would have to happen in the scene mechanically to move the story forward while Zdarsky brags about how much money he is making writing “Howard the Duck” and “Jughead.” The real kicker comes right at the end of the scene when it is revealed that Zdarsky was sitting on Fractions back during the entire three page conversation!
1. THE LEGALLY SHAKY USE OF QUEEN’S FAT BOTTOMED GIRLS
“Sex Criminals” #3 featured a rollicking musical number, all without any actual music. In a whimsical bar scene, Suzie dances and sings the lyrics of Queen’s “Fat Bottomed Girls” while Jon watch’s on, love-struck. Only thing is, Suzie doesn’t sing the actual lyrics because Fraction and Zdarsky couldn’t get the rights to the song in time. But instead of giving up, the “Sex Criminals” creators found a loophole; they just replaced the lyrics with an apology for not being able to secure the lyrics in time.
All the drama and rhythm of “Fat Bottomed girls” is in the scene, except instead of “Oh, you gonna take me home tonight,” you can read about how hard Fraction and Zdarsky tried to get the lyrics and how much they both love Freddie Mercury. They may not have gotten the lyrics, but their apology is comedy gold. Regardless, “Fat Bottomed Girls” has become the closest thing “Sex Criminals” has to a theme song.
What’s your favorite cheeky scene from “Sex Criminals?” Tells us about it in the comments!