Sex Criminals: Sexual Gary #1 Review: No Brand Can Hold Him

Sex Criminals: Sexual Gary #1
8.5/10
Sex Criminals: Sexual Gary is a laugh-out-loud funny #comic about a pornstar/spokesperson/pop star who refuses to be confined by a "brand."

The final issue of Sex Criminals is out next month. Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky, who debuted the series seven years ago (wow, just looked that up, time flies, we're all getting so old, so very old), will skip ahead thirty-nine issues to end the series on the perfect number… 69, of course. Before Sex Criminals takes its final cheeky bow, they're doing a special one-shot focusing on someone who started as a joke character. Sex Criminals: Sexual Gary #1 tells the life story, biopic style, of one of the series' strangest characters.

Sex Criminals: Sexual Gary #1 cover. Credit: Image Comics
Sex Criminals: Sexual Gary #1 cover. Credit: Image Comics

Sex Criminals: Sexual Gary is much like the main series: hilarious, packed with bits (both the comedy kind and the bodily kind) that will take multiple reads to notice, and heartfelt. The story of Sexual Gary's rise to pornstardom, Sex Ed spokepersonhood, pop stardom, and, finally, cock-fighting glory is told by Gary, so the writing is a bit broader in its comedy than usual. That doesn't get in the way of the emotion here, because Gary's rejection of the idea of being one thing was surprisingly relevant. We're in a culture where creators work and live to create a "brand" rather than resisting a confining label, rather than fighting against a restrictive idea of their creative identity. Sexual Gary speaks to the creator who doesn't want to fit somewhere neatly.

Rachael Stott draws Sex Criminals: Sexual Gary, with Enrica Eren Angiolini coloring and series artist Chip Zdarsky supplying letters. Stott perfectly captures the feel of Sex Criminals, with hyper-detailed pages bursting at the seams with sight gags, while still giving Sexual Gary its own unique, visual identity. The art team leans into the biopic feel that Fraction's script captures, and they do it well.

Sex Criminals: Sexual Gary is framed as Gary telling his story to someone who definitely did not ask to hear it. That may be true of the comic, too, as this is a spinoff that no one would have expected. However, Fraction, Stott, Angiolini, and Zdarsky manage to take this gag character and approach his story with frequent laugh out loud moments, a page-turning narrative, and a point to make.

About Theo Dwyer

Theo Dwyer writes about comics, film, and games.