Comics Vitae: Matt Fraction Part II, Iron Man through Sex Criminals

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Sex Criminals
Illustrated by Chip Zdarsky
Published by Image from 2013 to Present

Paste: You’re back with Image. It’s not with Icon. What’s the advantage to working with Image?
Fraction: I don’t think Icon would want anything to do with a book called Sex Criminals. It’s a better deal, and I can go to Eric Stephenson and tell him what the book is about, and his response is, “oh my god, that sounds amazing!” So they’re incredibly supportive, super into it and it’s great.

Paste: So it’s about sex without being sensational about it.
Fraction: Yeah, it’s about sex, but it’s not sexy.

Paste: That first issue is realistic and matter-of-fact about sexuality, which is rare not just in comics, but in most media. Why do you think it’s rare to find something that deals with sex in a mature way?
Fraction: Because tits sell. Because mass media is predicated upon exploiting women’s looks and bodies to make money, even while tut-tutting and acting scandalized. We get the Miley Cyrus we deserve. To be brutally frank about it, sexy sells, but sex doesn’t. But sex is funnier.

Paste: So you’re not dealing with superheroes here, but there’s a paranormal aspect, and it’s also kind of a crime story. Do comics need a genre hook to be successful?
Fraction: I didn’t want it to be a genre hook. I wanted to give it a visual hook, and that kind of lent itself into the genre part of it, I suppose. I hate comics that are clearly screenplays that didn’t sell. So I wanted something that didn’t look like a movie that we just drew because we couldn’t make it into a movie. I wanted something that took advantage of comics as comics, that played with what comic books can do with time and space and color in a way that film can’t, or TV can’t. I really just wanted to make a comic that couldn’t exist in another medium that well. At least, if there’s ever a Sex Criminals movie, it’ll look completely different than the comic. It’ll move and act differently. I just wanted to make a comic that celebrated being a comic, and I suppose the genre stuff came secondarily to that desire.