Sex Criminals - Matt Fraction, Chip Zdarsky (Review)

Amazon Summary: Named one of Time Magazine's top 10 graphic novels for 2013! Suzie's just a regular gal with an irregular gift: when she has sex, she stops time. One day she meets Jon and it turns out he has the same ability. And sooner or later they get around to using their gifts to do what we'd ALL do: rob a couple banks. A bawdy and brazen sex comedy for comics begins here, by Matt Fraction (Satellite Sam, Hawkeye) and Chip Zdarsky (Prison Funnies, Monster Cops).

"On the surface, this is a hilarious story of two people, Suzanne and Jon, with the power to stop time after they orgasm, and then rob banks while (almost) everyone else is frozen in time, which is an amazingly original idea. But underneath that, this is a story of the beginning of a relationship: its exciting newness, its terrifying possibilities, its ups and downs, its secrets and understandings, and, of course, its sex." - PW

Rating: 2.5 - 3 / 5

Review: I feel alone. Alone in the world of comic fans when it comes to Sex Criminals. I'm not trying to say I absolutely hated it or anything - but imo there's plenty here to criticize. And I have the utmost respect for the creative idea and the work that was put into this. But it just was not for me, in addition to their being bits I refuse to support that, I'll speak about towards the end. I don't know if it was a case of mismatched expectations while going in - but realistically I will probably not continue reading this run.

The idea behind Sex Criminals is simple (and cool!) enough to understand - our two main characters have the amazing ability to stop time temporarily whenever they orgasm. When I first heard about it I immediately declared "THIS IS A COMIC FOR ME!" I mean, it's an inventive idea that flawlessly allows for discussion of sexuality while still giving us the excitement and mystery of a standard comic. I began to imagine all of the creative directions an idea could take you in, and I created a sort of dark, edgy, sexy comic in my mind. You know, with dark colors and semi-abstract art and really serious discussions about the nature of human sexuality.

Lo and behold, this is not at all the vision that Fraction and Zdarsky had. The art in Sex Criminals is bright and colorful and there's very little angst or darkness to wallow in. And so you can see going in why I was a little thrown. Not that it's anyone's fault that I let my imagination selfishly run wild. This usually wouldn't be a huge adjustment for me either - I really like bright, feminine, bubblegum art. But Sex Criminals never managed to tickle that side of me either. As I've noticed, a lot of newer comics (not the big superheroes) tend to have less polished art and I didn't find Sex Criminals to be an exception. Most of the reviews I've seen really enjoyed Zdarsky's art but it just never hooked me. It felt unfinished, too cartoonish (for my taste) and I never found myself really wanting to stare at a scene longer than I needed. Something about their faces turned me off. I do quite like all of the cover art though! It always could come down to different preferences though.

Suzie and Jon, our main characters meet and quickly discover that they've finally found another person with their unique 'power'. For obvious reasons, this leads to a relationship between the two. After sharing stories about their childhood and the discovery of their skill, they begin to devise a more serious plan to help rescue the library Suzie works at from financial crisis. They decide to freeze time and rob a bank - only to find out there are other folks who can enter their frozen time zone. And they're not happy about their rule-breaking. To be honest, this portion of the story held my interest somewhat. If I were to pick up another issue in the future it would be primarily to get some answers about the frozen-time police, dammit.

But I disliked both the main characters and their voices. So watching them fall in love and reminisce about their life wasn't very fun for me. There are two specific moments in Sex Criminals that made me really fall on the "meh" side of the spectrum. There is a scene in which Suzie and Jon are at a pool hall where Suzie decides to lip sync "Fat Bottomed Girls" on top of the pool table in front of everyone? And this was supposed to be the moment Jon thought she was "REALLY SOMETHIN ELSE!" I guess? I don't know - like I got bad secondhand embarrassment reading this scene and the whole thing was very manic-pixie dream girl. And to make matters 100x worse - Fraction and Zdarsky were unable to get the rights to the song. So instead of picking a different song or cutting the scene out, they made an attempt at humor by overlaying each speech bubble of lyrics with a post-it note of themselves talking.

First of all, this scene goes on FOREVER. Like if I pay for a comic book I don't want to see multiple pages filled up with lyrics to a song I already know that lends itself to very little character development. And I especially don't want to see your self-indulgent attempts at being funny instead. Ick.

The second incident comes during a discussion Jon and Suzie are having about the type of porn he watched as a teenager. He shares that he really liked a specific porn actress, "Jazmin St. Cocaine". This already left a bad taste in my mouth - even as far as porn star names go, that's a little much. While looking her up online, Suzie literally comments "It doesn't say which of her uncles touched her, but it's Wikipedia. They have pretty high verification standards". 

But then - something even more bizarre happens. I'm still unsure if this was an attempt at humor, an apology, a commentary - I have no idea. But the scene then proceeds make the "internet version" of Jazmin speak directly to Suzie in a fantasy sequence. Jazmin (in the computer screen) says "That's not cool. That judgmental bullshit of yours. I'm a real person y'know. And just because I'm a sex worker, you don't get to shame me or insult me or insist I came from a background of molestation and abuse. And even if I did -" to which Suzie closes the laptop on her and replies "Jesus, god, you called yourself 'Jazmin St. Cocaine'. Talking a little shit was inevitable" before going up to Jon and mockingly saying "Hiiii Jonny. It's ya girl, Suzanne DeQuaalude-Handjob and I want you to rrrruin me". That's right. They had their main character shame sex workers, and than I guess to let us know that they knew that was bad, they gave the sex worker a fake voice for 3 panels to refute it - only to have Suzie close the laptop on her and walk away with no mention of it again.

This scene was the one that really made me say "what the fuck"? If you knew that you were going down morally questionable ground by reinforcing a harmful stereotype about sex and sex work in general (and making your female character seem catty and competitive to boot) enough so, that you had to put some type of "disclaimer" in there than DON'T WRITE THE SCENE IN! Unless it was an attempt at saying "how ridiculous" that attitude is and Suzie should be allowed to say whatever she wants about Jazmin. Either way - yuck, gross, not digging it. Not to mention, it's just sloppy writing if I'm actually that confused over the point of a scene. I've had multiple people read it and none of us have come to a conclusion.
Look, I even took a picture cause it made me angry.

Final Thoughts: Eh. I think I gave you enough information to decide if Sex Criminals is for you or not. I was put-off enough by the above that I most likely will not continue supporting this comic.

Saga - Brian K. Vaughan, Fiona Staples (Review)

Amazon Summary: Winner of the 2013 Hugo award for Best Graphic Story! When two soldiers from opposite sides of a never-ending galactic war fall in love, they risk everything to bring a fragile new life into a dangerous old universe. From New York Times bestselling writer Brian K. Vaughan (Y: The Last Man, Ex Machina) and critically acclaimed artist Fiona Staples (Mystery Society, North 40), Saga is the sweeping tale of one young family fighting to find their place in the worlds. Fantasy and science fiction are wed like never before in this sexy, subversive drama for adults.

Voted one of the top graphic novels of the year by the NYT, IGN, the Examiner, and SF Weekly. Voted Best Comic of the year by MTV Geek and Best New Series by Paradox Comics. Voted a finalist in the GoodReads Best GN of 2012 contest. Named one of Time Magazine's top 10 graphic novels for 2013.

Rating: 5/5

Review: If you're looking for 'THAT' comic - you know what I mean, the comic that is going to make you passionate about stories & art again, look no further. Everything you're reading now is good and all, but it does feel a little mundane and nothing's really punched you in the gut in a while or gotten your breath to catch. As much as I love picking up my New 52 trade issues when I visit my comic shop - I hadn't read anything gush-worthy in quite a long time. A big thank-you is getting thrown out to my buddy Mike for recommending this series in the first place and lending me his first copy.

To be honest, I was instantly intrigued once I saw the cover of the first Trade Paperback featured two main characters of color in an obviously sci-fi setting, with the female protagonist openly breast-feeding her baby while holding a gun. Despite the fact that the "Romeo and Juliet" love story didn't seem like the most thrilling plot, I was utterly sold. I'm happy to say, two books in and I still haven't been disappointed. Whether I'm considering the series through a political lens, a feminist lens, a creative lens - it hits every mark.

While it definitely has star-crossed lover elements, for the most part Saga's overarching plot is complex enough to stay interesting throughout but easy to follow due to the phenomenal writing. The story begins with the main characters, Alana and Marko, giving birth to their first child. We quickly find out Alana is from the large planet of Landfall, while Marko is from Wreath, the moon of Landfall. It's a simple setup that allows for some amazing innovation and gripping storytelling as you begin to explore this Universe.

This book is for mature audiences, absolutely. Sex and violence abound, Saga still manages to navigate these topics in an original manner. Without spoiling too much, one of my favorite scenes had to be The Will's brief exploration of the planet Sextillion (a brothel planet to entertain the soldiers) and the amazing scenes Fiona depicted. This is one of the few times I felt like I saw a piece properly giving ~alien sex~ it's due. Is that a weird opinion?? Maybe. But a lot of sci-fi work takes a stab at similar concepts and I've always felt we're too safe in what we imagine. If you're giving me sci-fi erotica, I want it to be weird and interesting - not just a green girl with 3 boobs, you know?

I could talk about the art FOREVER. Like this is the sort of artwork that makes you look up every convention Fiona is going to be at because you NEED to have this signed NEED TO. And has basically convinced me that I will read literally anything she illustrates into the future indefinitely. It's absolutely beautiful, sexy, colorful, emotional, subtle, creative - it's fantastic. Vaughan and Staples are a literal powerhouse together and I can't praise this series more.

Final Thoughts: If you like comics, don't like comics - I don't care! READ IT!

Animal Crossing: New Leaf Review

Animal Crossing: New Leaf, Nintendo 3DS

I'm pretty sure this post is going to be the equivalent of new parents excitedly showing off their new baby photos - I care a lot about my Animal Crossing town and the life I lead with my small animal villagers but I don't know that anyone else cares. And just like those proud parents, I'm gonna go ahead and show 'em to you anyway!

I don't doubt though that anyone who is a fan of Animal Crossing and plays consistently will understand exactly what I'm saying. Somehow this series manages to get you extremely emotionally invested in a fictional town of anthropomorphic animals. Lets put it this way - I have certain characters birthdays in my iPhone calendar...... right.

I play video games fairly often - and I'm a little embarrassed to admit that the game that has held my interest for the longest period of time (by a long shot) is AC. I know it seems frustrating when you begin playing to constantly have to wait until the next day to get certain achievements - but I think the fact that this game limits and forces you to pace yourself is what allows you to stay engaged for so long.

This was my first Animal Crossing game so I went in pretty blind as to what to expect. I was drawn in largely by the aesthetics - the game is so beautiful and enjoyable to look at. I love all of the design elements! I was delighted though, to discover how hilarious the dialogue is as well.

Check out my quaint Animal Crossing life in the Town of Sparkle from the past year!

HNI_0020 copy

Forever 21+ Plus Haul

24th Birthday - The Metropolitan Museum of Art

It's once again that time of year everyone hates (at least on the East Coast) - the holidays are over and the snow keeps dumping on us; there are no longer any presents or pretty lights to soften the cold, early in the morning as you scrape off your windshield. And yet, February is the month of my birthday and so I am forced to make the best of it! I think I've started to enjoy this frigid time of the year because I've conditioned myself to - but it could also have to do with my general hermit-like nature.

I had a nice breakfast with my family before we got very bundled up (I'm obsessed with my cat hat I just bought) and headed out. I decided the Met was a good choice - relaxing, warm, quiet and beautiful. It was also a great place to practice with my camera. The lighting was a little difficult to work with because it changed so drastically from room to room, but I think I got a few good shots! I hope you guys like them!