Imagine a world where human sexuality becomes as bureaucratized as registering a new vehicle? That’s the uber frightening dystopia as portrayed in SfSx, a brand new Image Comics series from writer/educator Tina Horn and artist Mike Dowling (Azrael, Judge Dredd). One part sex education text, one part V for Vendetta, the series follows a group of sex workers as they try and bring down a repressive right-wing government.
Before the book hits shelves this week, we touched base with Horn to discuss the book’s inspirations, gender and sexuality politics, working with Dowling, and much more.
AiPT: First off, thank you so much for talking to me about your upcoming book, SfSx. I got the opportunity to read the first two issues, and I genuinely had a great time reading them. Definitely one of the boldest Image books I’ve read in a while.
Tina Horn: Thank you so much; that’s so flattering!
AiPT: Can you tell the readers what SfSx is all about?
TH: SfSx is about a woman named Avory who spent her 20s as a pornographer in a sub-cultural collective of sorts called The Dirty Mind. As a conservative organization called the Party takes over more of American life, she is faced with an opportunity to try and play by the rules. We meet her as Avory and her husband George are trying and failing spectacularly to assimilate to this new dystopian San Francisco. Part of the reason she’s failing is that she bailed on her former friends and community at the Dirty Mind in an attempt to save herself. The DM denizens are understandably bitter towards her, especially since their leader Jones was arrested by the Party and has been MIA for three years. A series of events leaves Avory with no choice but to turn to the friends she abandoned. They all resolve to put everyone’s skills of bondage, seduction, and emotional intuition to use in rescuing their friends from the Pleasure Center. They have to face the Big Bads who run the Pleasure Center, people with their own personal agendas for how society should look. SfSx is romantic, it’s erotic, it’s suspenseful, it’s funny, it’s horrifying, it has a shameless political agenda, and it has lots of hot babes in cool outfits kicking much ass!
AiPT: Your main profession is as a sexpert — how did you end up writing an Image comic series?
TH: My main profession is a journalist, podcaster, and sex educator. I’ve produced and hosted an indie podcast about sex, kink, gender, and love called Why Are People Into That?! since 2014. A few years ago, an editor who had been a longtime listener to my show approached me to ask if I would be interested in writing a comic book series. What he didn’t even realize was that I was a lifelong fan of comics and was ecstatic at the idea. It’s been a long wild ride but I’m so glad to be publishing genre fiction and hope to write more for years!
AiPT: How did you find and enlist the artist, Michael Dowling? (His work is terrific, by the way.)
TH: I love Mike’s style so much! He did this Judge Dredd panel of Dredd kissing a punk that I totally fell for. I wanted this world to have a realism to it that you can see in every panel, from the fully realized slightly futuristic San Francisco to the acting of the characters whether they’re loving or fighting or both.
AiPT: I really appreciated the world-building in SfSx. It’s not quite our modern world, but it’s close enough to be scary. What inspired you in creating this authoritarian society? I definitely got some The Handmaid’s Tale and Orwellian vibes.
TH: Yes to Orwell and Atwood! I was also very inspired by the films Brazil and Children of Men. Anything where the dystopia is insidious. There’s also a strong influence of the social satire of Bitch Planet in there, and the “scales falling from your eyes” anarchism of The Invisibles.
AiPT: SfSx is all about the problems that arise when government/society infringe on personal liberty, especially for sex workers. What can us non-sex-perts do to help lift the negative image of sexual freedom that society perpetrates?
TH: Well, first of all, let’s get rid of the idea that I’m an expert on sex and the readers of this book are not! We’re all experts on our own sexuality, our own genders, our own desires, and the ways we like to tell sexual stories. This book is about traumas both big (like violation of consent, like policing) and small (like microaggressions that perpetuate shame). Some values that are woven into this story include: Getting rid of the idea of the pervert as “other,” as someone we would like to think that we aren’t or shouldn’t be. Let’s embrace the varieties of desire without judgement. Adult entertainment is a worthwhile part of culture. Erotic art is an ancient form of human expression. There’s lots of ways to enjoy eroticism besides heteronormative intercourse! Don’t make life more dangerous for others so you can feel safe!