This month marks the arrival of the 5th annual 30 Characters Challenge, the excellent event run by ComixTribe publisher Tyler James, where participants have to create a new comic character for every day of the whole month of November. I participated in the first year, successfully completing the challenge with 30 badly-drawn characters of my own, but haven’t done it again since. I won’t be participating this year either, but thought it might be fun to spend each day writing up a little showcase to celebrate a new comic character who showed up in comic pages for the first time this year. Comics are one of the most highly inventive mediums around, and this has been a particularly strong year for pumping out exciting new stories packed with compelling new characters. Let’s take a look at some of my favourites.
Following on from yesterday’s focus on Suzie, today we switch over to the other star of Sex Criminals: her love interest, and fellow orgasmic timestopper, Jon. While the first issue is all about Suzie’s sexual awakening, the second issue switches focus to Jon’s difficult teenage years. And while the first issue is quite sensitive and clever in its comedy, the second is hilarity of the crudest, smuttiest order, perhaps reflective of their different personalities. For example, while Suzie refers to the timeless limbo she inhabits while in her orgasmic state as “The Quiet”, Jon refers to it as “Cumworld.”
If Suzie’s story resonated with female readers, it is undeniable that Jon’s experience with puberty and beyond will strike a chord with the agonising awkwardness experienced by many boys growing up. From stumbling across illicit concealed porn in the woods, to a mortified venture into the local sex store (the wordplay and sight gags packed into this sequence by Zdarsky made for one of the year’s most hilarious scenes), there’s so much about the hapless Jon’s formative years that are so bang-on.
As an adult, he’s presented as a great match for Suzie beyond just their similar talents. Fraction has a great knack for writing them in a way that their respective senses of humor seem to play off each other naturally, and he’s just the right balance of doofy and cool to seem appealing. Issue #3 adds some other interesting wrinkles to his character. For example, we learn that among all the girls he dated, he had a brief relationship with a guy – presented in a refreshingly matter-of-fact manner in this era of “we’re making a press release to let you know we have a gay character appearing in our book” – and that he may or may not like “butt stuff.” Or perhaps that Suzie just wants him to like butt stuff, who knows? Plus, he has a glowing penis!
I was going to include both Suzie and Jon as one entry, so seamlessly do they fit together in Sex Criminals, and so heavily is the focus on them as a pair. But such a good job is done of making them both also feel distinct and like fully-realised characters in their own right that I had to give each one their due.