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Sunstone: Volume One (Image Comics / Top Cow Productions, 2012; OGN)

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Two women meet online and decide to try out BDSM with each other.  Each had been interested for a long time, but neither had found a willing partner before.  For Ally, it was because people were intimidated by her or her interests.  Lisa tended to stay quiet about what she wanted with partners, instead trying to persuade herself that she should be happy with a more vanilla lifestyle.  Once they get together, though, they click as partners—well enough that they have to navigate an unexpected element to their relationship:  romantic attraction.

Stjepan Šejić builds Sunstone’s story on its characters’ personalities.  Ally and Lisa radiate charm and dorky likability.  At one point, in fact, Ally makes the case that people into BDSM are just sex nerds, which conceptually sums the book up perfectly.  Lisa provides most of the book’s insight into the nervousness and newness of the relationship—and into the added stress of balancing their master/sub dynamic with liking one another.  Even though it’s both women’s first time in such a relationship, Ally has been planning and hoarding toys and equipment for years—so Lisa feels like a relative newbie, and that newness makes it easy for readers to slide into the story without being intimidated by its BDSM elements.

The obvious dangers for a book about a sexual relationship are that it would be gratuitous, pervy, and drawn to titillate.  But Šejić avoids those traps.  Yes, sex and nudity are a part of the book—but they are a part of the book because they’re a part of the story.  And it does not feel like it was drawn for the male gaze.  It is, however, gorgeous.  Šejić is a wizard, and his facial expression game is one of the best in comics—which is crucial to Sunstone since it lets him make his characters charm the pants off of readers.

I will buy and read anything Stjepan Šejić draws—if you listen to Panelology, you’ve probably heard us rave about his art at any opportunity.  But he’s no slouch in the writing department either.  You don’t have to be into or interested in BDSM to enjoy Sunstone, but if a charming relationship comic sounds up your alley, you should check it out.

Collected in

  • Sunstone, Vol. 1 (OGN)
  • Sunstone, Book One (Vols. 1-3)

 

Credits

Writer/Artist: Stjepan Šejić | Editor: Betsy Gonia | Designer: Tricia Ramos

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