On the 27th of September, SEX CRIMINALS, VOL. 4: FOURGY! arrives in comic book shops. Comprising of issues 16 to 20 of the series, it opens up the world of SEX CRIMINALS to new characters, strange sex creatures, and a questionable song about hot dog wieners. In anticipation of this latest volume, we talked to Matt Fraction (HAWKEYE, CASANOVA) and Chip Zdarsky (JUGHEAD, PETER PARKER: THE SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN) about what we can expect, and their creative process. Note: The following interview contains spoilers.

ComicsVerse (CV): There was an eight month hiatus between volumes three and four of SEX CRIMINALS. Was it easy or difficult to jump back into the series after being away for a while?

Matt Fraction (MF): It was only a break in publication; we worked on it throughout with the goal of banking completed issues and shipping the whole arc on-time. I think everyone, including us, would prefer a regular-ish 6 weeks or so between issues instead of eight months of radio silence. It was miserable and dumb, and I think it was a mistake. SORRY GANG.

Chip Zdarsky (CZ): Yeah, what Matt said. This is a book that takes a lot of time to make for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is that I am a stupid boy who wants to do everything.

Sex Criminals
Courtesy of Image Comics

CV: Todd Stubaker’s sex goblins (creatures he conjures when he’s in the quiet) are creepy as hell. Where did their origin come from and what work went into designing them?

MF: Two places. My wife, Kelly Sue DeConnick, interviewed once to work with the magazine editor Dian Hansen and she, in the course of the interview, told Kel about one of her readers and letter-writers that in fact had a “Little Man.” He appreciated Hansen’s work so much he sent her one, and Dian showed it to Kel. Anyway; that sat in my head for a while, like all good story fuel does.

Then, in doing research on SEX CRIMINALS I came across a 3D somatasensory portrait of man and woman — what it would look like if the parts of our body that had the most nerve clusters were in fact the largest, the parts of our body with fewer nerves were fewer — known lovingly in science circles as “The Homunculus” (Latin for? THE LITTLE MAN) and it all just kinda… came together. Uh. As it were.

Also we were starving for a huge, marketable, Porg-like cash-in we could crank into subpar high dollar collector’s merch by the metric shit-kilo. Look out, Garfield! Here Comes The Little Men!

CZ : I hate the Little Men more than anything. They’re gross to draw and, because they’re based on an actual SCIENCE THING, I couldn’t design them to make them better for me to draw. Truly horrible looking things. Very angry with Matt and, I guess now, Kelly Sue.

WATCH: We caught up with Chip at C2E2 2017! Check out what he had to say here!

CV: Issue 17 is a spotlight on Myrtle Spurge and reads like a take on creative team Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips’ style of work. Was that the reason you had guest colorist Elizabeth Breitweiser on this issue, or is that a happy coincidence?

MF: Who? Sorry, I don’t read comics.

CZ: Yeah, not sure what you mean. I had a real time crunch and Ms. Breitweiser was kind enough to help out.

CV: Chip, in issue 18, you drew a 64 panel grid showing Jazmine preparing for Sexxxporgascon (a porn convention). What was your reaction when you saw it in the script and what were the challenges in creating something so detailed?

CZ: When I hit a spot like that I take a deep breath and get back to reading. But after that initial realization of how much work something’ll take, I get excited to draw it. Cause it’s different, special, yeah? Like, one day in the future I’ll be flipping through old copies of Sex Crimz with my grandchildren and we’ll hit that page and they’ll be, like, “is that a 64-panel page, Grampy Chips?” and I’ll smile and nod and say “Yes, yes it is” and wistfully think of my time with Matt before the accident.

Courtesy of Image Comics

CV: When writing or drawing SEX CRIMINALS, were there any times you discover that you have inhibitions that you have to get over to tell the story?

MF: No; there are times when I discover I have gaps in empathy that I work very hard to grow. So rather than be inhibited to write something, it’s more like, I don’t know how. How do you write someone like Todd and have him be sympathetic, or even tragic? Well, even though whatever my particular place at this moment in time on the sex-and-gender manifold is pretty different than his, I still had to care about the guy when I wrote him. So… so yeah. So I am learning to grow my empathy as I write the book and I hope my humanity as well, at least a little bit.

It’s very important to me that the only people in our book that Chip and I make fun of are Chip and I.

CZ: I don’t have inhibitions.

CV: When creating lyrics for songs, such as the Wide Weiner song, are there particular tunes in your head as you’re writing them?

MF: I just kinda made it up in my head, then after the lyrics were down I figured it out on a ukulele. Then I called Chip while he was seeing LOGAN and I left it as a message for him to hear. I am a wonderful collaborator!

CZ: Have you seen LOGAN? A wonderful romp!

READ: We review the latest issue of Matt Fraction and Christian Ward’s ODY-C!

CV: On your letters page, a lot of people really open up about their sex lives. Is there a feeling of responsibility when answering these letters to get it right in how you respond? Do you think that these conversations are conversations we should be having in general in order to break down the taboo of talking about sex in a frank, honest, and open way?

MF: Absolutely. And, no; I don’t think anybody that doesn’t want to talk about sex in a frank, honest, and open way should feel compelled to. There are those of us though that feel it connects us all in some way, no matter what our personal destinations may be, it’s a thing we all have to figure out about ourselves, all of us, even if for a moment. And I think there’s something beautiful and almost holy about that connection. I like talking about it, I like learning about it, and it always makes me laugh — so many amazing, beautiful people growing up thinking they are ugly, awful, unlovable monsters not worthy of affection or attention and ashamed because of it — it’s a point of commonality for all of us.

CV: This volume ends with (spoiler warning) Jon and Suzie’s break up. This particular scene could have been dialogue heavy, with both explaining why the relationship wasn’t working, the problems they were experiencing, etc. Instead, you went with a mostly silent, visual montage that worked beautifully (and was pretty damn sad). I would imagine it was a difficult scene to do. Was the intention always to approach it through purely visuals, or was dialogue written for it?

MF: It was at first. The two pages, the two-panel spread that ended up being all silent, took me as long to write as the entire rest of the issue, and then when I saw the art I saw I could just cut all the words out because I can’t write as well as Chip can draw. I think those two pages are really special. I don’t think I’ve written better for Chip and I don’t know if I ever will. And I think it’s the kind of thing you can only do in comics.

CZ: There’s a tremendous amount of thought, conversation, and writing that goes into a page that’s silent. More than a dialogue-heavy page, really, ‘cause you can’t rely on captions to explain feelings. A book like this, it’s a conversation between Matt and I. In issue 18 he wrote this great scene with Robert’s POV flashbacks of Rach. I added frames of Robert’s head for an added visual element. Then, two issues later, Matt creates that great double page spread, including the layout, of the floating head frames. He designed that spread, like, with actual sketches! That’s not me. But, he did so with my previous head-frames in mind. So there are almost no elements in the book that are purely Matt’s or mine. We build off of each other’s work in a way that feels like the best use of a collaborative medium, I feel.

Sex Criminals
Courtesy of Image Comics

CV: Matt, you mentioned in the letters column of issue 20 that “the second act curtain must fall.” Are we nearing the end of the run?

MF: We’re closer to the end than the beginning, I think? That said, I thought we’d only ever be four issues long and I thought Chip’s real name was Chip so what the hell do I know.

CZ: Chip 4ever

LISTEN: We talk about sex in comics in this ComicsVerse podcast!

CV: What can we expect from the next arc of SEX CRIMINALS?

MF: It’s called FIVE FINGERED DISCOUNT and all the rules are broken. I was happier writing issue 24 than I’ve been writing anything in a long-ass time, and I’m half-done with 25 and can’t wait to get to 26.

CV: Has there been a favorite sex fact you have discovered since beginning SEX CRIMINALS?

MF: Yeah, if a dude looked like what a dude feels, a dude would look fucking monstrously horrifying. Also, you can write that two Little Men fingercuff a burrito and Chip will draw it. I guess that’s really a favorite SEX CRIMINALS fact, but it’s true, you can, and he will. He has to. Otherwise, ghosts will steal soul-jar and fill it with demon pee.

CZ: I learned that sex is good and I’m not a bad boy.

CV: Are there any other projects you have lined up you’d like to share with your brimpers?

MF: I think I share quite enough with our brimpers, thank you very much.

CZ: sex is good

Want to know more about SEX CRIMINALS, VOL. 4: FOURGY!?

SEX CRIMINALS, VOL 4: FOURGY! will be released in stores on the 27th of September. If you want to keep up to date with Matt and Chips work, you can follow Matt on Tumblr at mattfraction.com and Chip on twitter at @zarsky.

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