Wednesday, February 5, 2014

The Many Variances of Fraction & Zdarsky's Sex Criminals

*editor's note: Although this post was originally written on February 5th, 2014, it will be regularly updated as each new issue of Sex Criminals comes out. So you can always pop back now and then, and check out all the new cover images at the end of the post.

Back in September, Image Comics, the sophisticated reader's alternative to the big two of DC and Marvel (and really, that is not meant as a bust on the big two - really, it's not), anyway, as I was saying, back in September, Image Comics released a new comic by the inevitably controversial name of Sex Criminals. The book was (and still is) written by Matt Fraction and drawn by Chip Zdarsky, and they both act as co-creators.  Needless to say, as I am sure one can judge from the book's title, Sex Criminals is not your typical superhero-heavy comic. No sirree, this ain't your daddy's Batman, not your grandaddy's Superman, not your uncle's Daredevil. No, this surely ain't your momma's Giant-Sized Man-Thing. Wait, what?  

Anyhoo, let's just move on to the reason we are all gathered here today. I know who the murderer is, and he or she is someone in this roo...wait, hold on, that's something else. Something to do with sex, right? Okay, now I got it. We are here to talk about the meteoric rise (and yet no fall) of Sex Criminals. I'm not really going to get into the who's and where's and why's and what for's of what the whole thing is about. Suffice it to say, there is a girl and a boy, some guns, a bank, a porn shop, some song and dance numbers (really!), and some pretty weird sexual maneuvers. After all, I don't want to ruin it for anyone out there who has yet to read it, or for those who are giddily awaiting the upcoming trade paperback collection of the first five issues. Oh yeah, and the sex may or may not be magic. Okay, the sex is magic, kinda. And the letters page! You have to check out the letters page!  It is safe to say the book is an irreverent and ofttimes comedic (read: sardonic and sarcastic, and quite snarky, indeed - just how this guy likes 'em) take on the whole sex thing.  A sex comedy for the comics, if you will, and you most certainly should.  It is also quite safe to say that the book is a big freakin' success, or as Chip Zdarsky is wont to say, a real big freakin' S-E-X-C-E-S-S.

Now, as anyone who collects for a living, be it comics or cards or action figures or toys or Pez dispensers (that's right!) knows, with success (or sexcess, if you will) comes the variant. What is the variant, you ask? Okay, Plebeians, I will tell you what is the variant. The variant is an alternative version of the thing you are collecting. It could be a black and white version of a Daryl Dixon action figure, or it could be a silver foil version of that Buffy the Vampire Slayer card of Spike. You know, the one from season five, that only came 1 to every 100 cases. A variant could be a Comic Con edition of a Dr. Bunson Honeydew figure (wearing a fanboy t-shirt), or perhaps a red crystal Batman Pez Dispenser from the Cleveland Pezamania Pez Convention (that's right!!). But here, in the case of Image Comics' wildly successful Sex Criminals. it means a lot of different covers. After selling out over and over again, these variants (and to be technical, most of these are not actually variants so much as different printings, but variant sounds so cool, so I'm sticking with it) become more and more intriguing, and more and more valuable. So far there have been five printings of issue one (the first can be seen at the top of this post), three each of issues two and three, and more invariably on their way.

The most fascinating of these variant covers (the comic inside is the same for each printing, with just the covers changing - we collectors will buy 'em all, and they know it) is the (almost) unprecedented fourth and fifth printing of issue one. Deciding to break the fourth wall, as the duo does in their comic anyway (and as Fraction has done in other titles he has written such as Marvel's Hawkeye and FF), this fourth printing is actually a rare photo cover, with Fraction and Zdarsky posed all Sears portrait-like on the cover, with Chip holding the first printing of Sex Criminals in his lap. This great meta-version can be seen just above. It's kinda hard to miss.  In another snarky move, instead of printing a fifth printing, they decided to go with the same image, but call it the 'Second Printing of the Fourth Printing.' Ya know we're still going to buy it though. When Time Magazine called the book, the best comic of 2013, Image even went and did a cover to look like Time Magazine. There's even one that looks like the Queen II album cover.There are even some convention variants. So, to gather all these variants into one neat place (aka, here, at my blog, in this post - duh), below are all the Sex Criminals variants so far (other than the two above, of course - but I suppose they're here too), the latest of which will be out at the end of February - just in time for the March release of issue number five (a month late, but we still love you guys). Oh, and in case I didn't mention it in all this talk of different covers and all, Sex Criminals is, easily one of the best damn comics out there today. In fact, it is my second favourite comic out there right now. My favourite? Guess you're just gonna have to go hungry on that knowledge. Maybe another time. Anyway, here are the variants (yeah, yeah, and the multiple printings). Enjoy.

Maybe I'll update this post when new issues and variants come out. Maybe I won't. Who the hell are you to tell me what to do!!? Okay, I'll update the damn thing. Geez, you're a pest. Anyway, that's all...for now. See ya 'round the web. Here are those aforementioned updated cover images.


  1. Hmmm... I'm not much on multiple covers.. comics cost way to damned much as it is, these days to attempt to collect variant covers. But I am intrigued by the premise. I'll have Bob down at Cosmic throw it in my box.

  2. I'm usually not all that big on 'em either, getting a few now and again, if they happen to be especially intriguing, but with Sex Crims (that's how all the kool kids say it), I actually plan on getting all of them at some point. Just grabbed a copy of Issue #1, Second Printing of the Fourth Printing (aka, the Fifth Printing).

    Seriously though, as far as the comic itself goes, it is pretty rad and gnarly and all that kind of tubular jazz. Matt Fraction is my favourite writer out there these days. His Hawkeye and Satellite Sam, as well as his just finished run on FF, are all great books.

    And thanx for stoppin' by. You're the best. See ya 'round the web.

  3. This really is a killer comic, man. Fraction is da man. Zdarsky too. Crazy amount of variants though. Do like the meta one and the last one there.

  4. Sex Criminals is - HANDS DOWN - my fave comic out right now. I do love others - Pretty Deadly, Batgirl, Wonder Woman, Rat Queens, Velvet, Birds of Prey, Catwoman, Fatale, Red Sonja, Harley Quinn, the new Ms. Marvel - but Sex Crims is the hottest. Go Suzie, go!

  5. Love this comic. Love these covers.

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