“…no love without endurance, no pleasure without pain.” (SFSX #1 Comic Review)

Written & Created by Tina Horn

Drawn & Colored by Michael Dowling

Cover Art by Tula Lotay

Lettered by Steve Wands

Edited & Designed by Laurenn McCubbin

“Purity will set you free.”

In This Issue: Image Comics’ new title SFSX (Safe Sex) follows the story of former sex worker Avory Horowitz. The story is set in San Francisco, where The Party, an ultra-conservative religious organization bent on exercising its doctrine over American civil life, has been gaining power expeditiously for a decade. They hold San Francisco in their conformist, authoritarian grasp, and are hellbent on harnessing the power of pleasure for purposes of mass control. After a raid on Avory’s workplace, The Dirty Mind—a last stand of sexual freedom in an otherwise prim and prudish city—Avory’s boss and hero, Jones, is taken by The Party, never to be heard from again. Avory, terrified and broken by the destruction of the one place she felt safe, decides to toe the line. She marries her boyfriend, George. George goes to work at the Pleasure Center where he processes Purity Scores for the government. Avory tries to adjust to a more conservative lifestyle, tries to fit in, tries to get a day job. Her former friends want little to do with her, though when Avory forgets to file some necessary government paperwork and George disappears trying to do it for her, she is forced back into the sexual underworld—and the new Dirty Mind.

My Two Cents: SFSX is not one to pull for the kiddiewinks, though I rather think that you would have divined that yourself from the cover. Horn’s writing and Dowling’s art play off each other brilliantly, highlighting the seedy and the devastating and the tense and the lonely. There is a good deal of narration in this issue which, while necessary in a first issue, can sometimes can detract from the flow of the story. The team have managed to weave it in in such a way, however, that it reads naturally. So far I have only one quibble, which is an overzealous use of bold in the dialogue which inhibits smooth reading and necessitates more thought than a reader should have to exert, but overall SFSX looks as though it’s going to be an intense, thought-provoking series, full of heart and guts…and sex.

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Elizabeth Fazzio
South Bay native turned East Bay resident. Holder of two less-than-useful arts degrees. Human Resources professional by day, creative recluse the rest of the time. Favorite words: Weasel, toast. Mental health advocate--https://makeitok.org
Elizabeth Fazzio
Summary
On an intensely personal note, I find SFSX to be a very tough read. It deals with a subject which is immensely triggering for me, and with the draconian, single-minded, theocratic themes upon which the plot depends, it makes for a difficult 25-ish pages to get through. I could very easily have called this one in—requested something else to review—but this story is immensely compelling and the team behind it is coming from such a vulnerably strong place (which sounds like a contradiction in terms, but just trust me on this one) that I am choosing to persevere.
Good
  • Story elements are balanced
  • Art and story blend seamlessly
  • Extras within the book
Bad
  • Overuse of BOLD
7.9
Good
Art - 7.5
Writing - 9
Story - 8
Predictability - 7
Written by
South Bay native turned East Bay resident. Holder of two less-than-useful arts degrees. Human Resources professional by day, creative recluse the rest of the time. Favorite words: Weasel, toast. Mental health advocate--https://makeitok.org

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