[NSFW] Sex Criminals Review: Porn Queen Professor

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Sex Criminals #9 Chip Zdarsky December 2014 Image ComicsSex Criminals #9

Matt Fraction (W), Chip Zdarsky (A)
Image Comics

Oh, Sex Criminals. How can a comic about orgasms that has a letters section constantly referencing brimping (go ahead, Google that) make me have all these feels?

This issue introduces us to Ana, who has appeared in the comic before as Jon’s porn fixation, Jazmine St. Cocaine. Due to a childhood accident, Ana has little feeling in her genitals, and the beginning of the comic focuses on relaying her journey from fast food worker, to stripper, to model, to porn star. It turns out she’s another person who can stop time with her orgasm, and she eventually ends up a professor of horology, or the study of time.

Let’s take a closer look at her backstory. By introducing Ana as a sex worker whose genitals don’t work normally, Fraction is perpetuating the stereotype that “normal” people don’t work in porn, although he is sympathetic in that portrayal. Her lack of sensation leads Ana to search out greater rushes, indulging in drugs and sex.

She has her first orgasm while filming a scene, and Ana then chases that feeling through 80 some-odd other movies. This is a common portrayal of the female porn star, a woman so empty that she can’t be satisfied, an unending hole begging to be filled, and I’m a little disappointed. You see this trope in Rollergirl’s character in Boogie Nights, Bunny Lebowski in The Big Lebowski, and the heavily edited interview Sasha Grey did on the Tyra Banks show. Ana transitions into a respectable role as a professor at Princetown University before being introduced in the comic, but I would have loved to see a profession closer to Annie Sprinkle. We’d get a voluptuous love goddess to balance out Kegelface, and the porn star would still be involved in sex work instead of academia. On the other hand, I do love that Ana had brains and ambition as well as a willingness to do sex work. It’s important to show sex workers as fully realized people, and Fraction does that — just after portraying a porn star as sexually numb, in a comic that has otherwise portrated sex as a normal part of life. Ana mentions in an off-handed way that she did get recognized for her sex work, but she treats this as no big deal, merely transferring from college to college. I didn’t find this realistic either, both the claim that it didn’t bother her as well as the ease with which she left her sex work behind.Sex Criminals #9 Chip Zdarsky December 2014 Image Comics

We see Ana losing her virginity, caught in the headlights of a car as she lays on a blanket, a precursor of the lights and camera to come. Her characterization of herself as “easy” and a “party girl” lacked any of the repercussions or difficulties you usually see associated with high school girls. She was in the top of her class and worked hard. Ana has it all, until her father refuses to pay for college, so she vows to pay for it herself. There’s a definite parallel to how the Quiet is depicted and the lights and colors used for the strip club. Hidden in Ana’s porn sequences is a tribute to The Wicked + The Divine, another Image book, that’s really fantastic (both the book and the reference). The sex between Ana and the woman playing “Clit Eastwood” is really sweet, and Ana’s Quiet is achieved.

Sex Criminals #9 Chip Zdarsky December 2014 Image ComicsJon and Suzie get back together, kinda sorta. There’s a bad argument where Robert Rainbow’s name is thrown around, and at the end, Jon does the jerk thing and says exactly the one thing that makes Suzie doubt herself. This page doesn’t show their whole argument. It’s broken up by black panels with white text, that seem to be from an omniscient point of view. Someone who can hear all of their words (which we can not see, and I thought was probably meant to be the reader’s voice) reacts to them, and it is really effective as a one-shot joke. Rather than reading the accusations, you have to imagine what’s being said based on the reaction, and that works great. It made me fill in that feeling of arguing with a loved one, and how it feels when it gets nasty.

They make up, which means the Quiet/Cumworld is visited. They use that time to go to the demolition site that was Suzie’s library. She comes up with a plan for revenge, and it finally looks like all these threads are coming together when Jon and Suzie pay a visit to Ana. She is intended to be important, moving from Jon’s porn queen obsession to a scientist who may be figuring out exactly what the Quiet/Cumworld is, and why some people can access it. Hopefully the next issue will show whether she’s successfully moved from symbol to an interesting addition to the cast.

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About Author

Sarah Richardson is a graphic artist living in Chicago. In addition to illustrating and laying out tabletop RPGs and zines, she burns through comics and books as fast as her eyes can move. Sarah swears a lot on twitter as @scorcha79.

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