Today’s the day I review a romance comic! It is an explicit romance comic, so please remove your children and small animals from this post. And thanks to Outright Geekery for featuring it couple months ago, or I never would’ve heard of it!
Stjepan Sejic is a Croatian comic artist who’s worked on Witchblade and Rat Queens, among other things. He started Sunstone as a diversion, a way of inspiring himself — just unconnected pictures on a DeviantArt page, mostly featuring the same sets of characters in sexy situations. Over time, and as the fans tried to hash out a chronology for the pictures, he decided to actually do stories about them and how they met.
What we end up with is a drippingly sweet lesbian BDSM romantic comedy. It’s about Ally and Lisa, two 20-somethings who meet via their mutual interest in BDSM, and how they fall in love. They’re honest and awkward and nerdy and I love them. Lisa is an aspiring fantasy writer, and Ally is a gamer who made (piles of) money through some kind of software thing… You get a lot of romance tropes, like the rich dom(me), and whatnot, but tropes are used delicately and this is much more nuanced than your typical romcom. The fact that they’re both women doesn’t come up very often, but it does add a layer of uncertainty and even possible danger outside of their relationship, without being an overwrought reason for them to not be together. There’s really no villain, no horrific obstacle, at least in volume one… It’s a story about feelings and new relationships, about them getting to know each other and exploring how much they’d like to be together.
The art is gorgeous. It’s amazing in every panel, but sometimes you’ll come across a full-page picture of Lisa’s face or something and you’ll just have to stare. It is so, so pretty. Stjepan Sejic is male, and I think sometimes you can tell that in the story, but that’s okay — it’s not exploitative, and he always treats the women as people. He also talks about how much his wife Linda helped with the stories, jokes, and perspective on ladies things (and she later started her own webcomic called Bloodstain in the same continuity). So, that’s the way to do it. You don’t have to actually be a lesbian woman to write a lesbian romance, you just have to exhibit some concern!
The best part? It’s still freeeeeeeee on DeviantArt. However, if you’re like me and prefer an actual paper comic, volume 1 was just released by Image/Top Cow. Your chances of finding it in a mainstream store may be slim, but you can order it from Amazon or wherever else online.
For warnings: Sunstone is not 50 Shades of Grey BDSM. Nothing but safety and concern for each other here. And you don’t have to be into BDSM to enjoy it, but of course if that activity is problematic or triggering for you, stay away. It is also very NSFW, lots of nudity and basically the whole book is “sexual situations,” but I wouldn’t actually call it erotica. As soon as they stop talking and the plot is no longer being furthered, it’ll skip to the next relevant conversation. So it’s actually less explicit than most romance novels, although of course those novels don’t have pictures.