Image Comics is one of those companies that really innovates within the realm of comics, thanks to their willingness to take chances. Without this, we wouldn’t have some of the modern classics of our time, such as Saga, The Walking Dead, or The Wicked + The Divine. Thanks to their desire to allow the work to shine, regardless of subject, they are a varied and illustrious company. I say this because the publisher has taken a chance once again, this time with well-known erotic writer Tina Horn for an brand new series, SFSX (Safe Sex).
The series has already been compared to other notable pieces of pop culture, thanks to its subject matter: the comedic masterpiece Sex Criminals and the harrowing book turned television series, The Handmaid’s Tale. While the latter is absolutely true, I disagree with the former, as Horn’s series is less of a goofy romp and more so a serious tale about the dangers of censorship, restriction, and control (or lack thereof).
What we do get with SFSX is the story of Avory, a woman who, in a past life, was a sex worker, proud of her life of freedom and sexual expression, turned into a buttoned-up housewife thanks to the complete and utter dominance of a group called simply ”The Party” who govern and restrict sexual impulses through government agencies and laws. This stripping of freedom has lead some of Avory’s former friends from a place called The Dirty Mind to step in and use the skills they’ve achieved through their past experiences in sex work to put an end to the antics of The Party once and for all.
As mentioned, this series has some of the trappings of The Handmaid’s Tale; it goes about its subject in a very unique way. The first being that this is, and should be, a very queer book. The characters and subject matter suit this perfectly, and Horn uses her past connections through life and her previous work well to flesh out this world. While the subject matter is erotic in nature and has some major sexual themes, it’s feels more like a tale of lost freedom that those who lost it are determined to take back. It’s grounded, engaging, and beautifully crafted, cared for by someone know knows and loves this wonderful community.
It’s also a beautifully drawn series, as Michael Dowling brings his unique artistic style. His previous work on Death Sentence and Unfollow were what actually brought me to this series, and I’m very glad to have given it a shot. His artistry is something to see, combining rough edges with truly beautiful styles.
This series may not be for some, and that’s okay. The strong sexual themes and queer content won’t connect with everyone. But thankfully, this series is lovingly crafted for a marginalized community, one that doesn’t get to see themselves in this medium too often.
For that, Horn, Dowling, and everyone working on this series should be commended. It’s a very interesting concept that has, so far, been introduced well, and I look forward to seeing more.
Creative Team: Tina Horn (writer), Michael Dowling (artist)
Publisher: Image Comics
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