‘Suzie Down in the Quiet’
Writer: Matt Fraction
Artist: Chip Zdarsky
Colour Flatting: Becka Kinzie
Cover Art: Chip Zdarsky
A review by Jake Morris.
At some point in their lives, everyone has asked the question “what would happen if you could stop time by having sex?” Okay, maybe not. But that is exactly what Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky aim to show us as they launch new title ‘Sex Criminals’, published by Image Comics.
At face value the book could be described as crude and fairly simple, however upon reading through the book, it is evident that Fraction plans on spinning a web of frolics, mischief and yes, sex.
From the very start, we are introduced to two characters; Suzanne and Jonathan. The both of them fornicating in a public toilet, with what appears to be a moment caught mid-scene with the police right outside, about to bust in on the busy couple.
As the book moves forward (or back, depending on how you look at it), we are given a more thorough introduction to Suzie this time, as she chronicles her life in a series of fourth-wall breaking pages. This is the meat of the book, where we learn of Suzie’s struggles, not just in her losses but also in how she has had trouble fitting in upon adolescence. Despite everything appearing rather bleak for Suzie, Fraction brings much cheer to what would otherwise be a cheerless affair. The troubles are right there on the page but the narration from the main character, mixed with some comically awkward moments and fantastic cartoonist style from Zdarsky diminishes any and all melodrama. Thus, you are taken for a fun ride that in spite of the obvious world separating similarities, many may find relatable circumstances.
Speaking of the art… It is flawless. The style used by Zdarsky is perfect for this issue. The approach is not necessarily non-realistic but the rounded shape to characters added in with the classic cartoon style of over dramatics gives the book a lot of charm. The panels in which Suzie utilises her ‘power’ while having spates of intimacy are the standouts. Awash with neon colouring, big bright flares and a blurriness to the page, it is some of the best and most beautiful colouring I have seen. The colourful approach is also refreshing from the constant gritty take on similar x-rated material, and it almost makes you forget that the content is exclusively an adult book. Most interesting is the books use of ‘colour flatting’ which is completed by Becka Kinzie. How much this style was integrated is unknown but it certainly made for one very vibrant pretty book.
One concern does arise in how dark the story may become later on. If that is the case, it is left to wonder whether Zdarsky’s style can accommodate such a theme. Going off the current issue though, both writer and artist have an exquisite understanding of each other which hopefully keeps things consistent and in sync.
Furthermore, the breaking of the fourth wall mechanics are a nice touch but at times the book feels overwritten. With the specific style of art, it would be great to see some panels and pages guided purely by the art. Nevertheless it is full of hilarious dialogue, art that brings out much character and a colouring style that is the icing on the cake.
You won’t find a book like this on the market right now, but if comparisons were to be made, there are some real senses of Ferris Bueller to be found mixed with modern day themes (time-stopping sex wasn’t on the agenda in the 80’s).
Well worth a read and a book that showcases Matt Fraction’s already famous talent for lighthearted hysterics.
Jake is a contributing writer for Drunk On Comics. You can follow him on Twitter at @JakeUtd.