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Meet the sex criminals. Who have orgasms for a good cause

Lamat R Hasan | Updated on: 14 February 2017, 5:15 IST

Suzie Dickson is a normal girl with an extraordinary ability. When she has sex, she can stop time. And then she meets Jon Johnson, a boy with a similar gift. Together they make magic. Such as rob banks.

Sex Criminals - the at-once hilarious and insightful monthly comic series - launched in 2013 is set to publish its third volume, called Three the Hard Way, this May.

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Suzie is a 20-something librarian and Jon, a bank employee. They meet at a party and, after sleeping together, discover that they share the ability to freeze time after an orgasm. As their relationship develops and their sexual histories are explored, they decide to rob a bank.

For a noble cause, of course.

Suzie wants to save her local library from BankCorp, which plans to encroach it. Her mission is to save as many books as she can while Jon works there.

Why does a 'sexy' comic book series matter? Because this, as Wired said in a review, "isn't a book designed to get you off. It's a comedy that deals with how embarrassing, scary, and awesome sex can be for both men and women-as told through the eyes of a modern-day Bonnie and Clyde with a Masters-and-Johnson getaway tactic. And in the comics industry, where sex is primarily deployed as fodder for juvenile titillation, a comic about sex that manages to be both mature and funny is something of an anomaly-and an important one."

Sexy & More

Through the first few chapters of Sex Criminals, Suzie talks about her past. A shooting that leaves her father dead. Her mother who never recovers from that shock. And the joy of masturbating for the first time.

There's never been a predictable moment in the comic series.

Suzie breaks up with Jon. And starts dating her gynaecologist Robert. There's also Alix, who is asexual.

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Written by Matt Fraction and illustrated by Chip Zdarsky, Sex Criminals was a runner-up at Comics Alliance's Best of 2015. Earlier, Time magazine honoured it as the #1 comic series/graphic novel, right after its launch in 2013.

The man who got it right

A recurring theme in the Sex Criminals fan club? That there's finally a piece of pop culture - and more power to the fact that it's a comic book - that gets sex right.

Whatculture.com described the sex scenes as "tastefully presented, playful even and always unabashed, and never feels cheap or exploitative". "Reading Sex Criminals #1 is like discovering sex for the first time - it's new and different but mind-blowingly great and you know you'll be back for more." But to get sex right is not enough - a comic book needs, by definition, to be funny.

This one delivers the laughs in spades.

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"There are two big problems with reading 'Sex Criminals' in public. One: it's a smorgasbord of p's and v's in various stages of excitement, and that's not something you want to show to everybody else on the bus. Two: it's impossible to read an issue without laughing out-loud at least once, thereby drawing attention to you and all the aforementioned naughty parts," said one review.

We have Matt Fraction to thank for that. An A-list comic book writer - he's done Invincible Iron Man among others - his work has a remarkable literary quality if one looks below the surface.

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He has also spoken of how his own confusion about sex, growing up, informed the comic. The misinformation, the awkwardness, the experiences that were both funny and painful - the comic's cult popularity seems to stem from its innate honesty, and that in turn seems to draw off its creator's personality.

It's also why many people have batted for the comics to be used as a sex education tool in schools.

Others are committed to taking it to a wider audience - and that, naturally, means the visual. Matt and Chip recently struck a two-year deal with Universal TV, which means a whole new set of sex adventures is on the cards.

With that - plus volume 3 - to look forward to, talking about sex just got a whole lot more fun.

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First published: 13 January 2016, 3:46 IST
Lamat R Hasan @LamatAyub

Bats for the four-legged, can't stand most on two. Forced to venture into the world of homo sapiens to manage uninterrupted companionship of 16 cats, 2 dogs and counting... Can read books and paint pots and pay bills by being journalist.