Sunstone may be one of the few comics that can boast that most of its readers first read a few pages at a time on social media. It is also a comic many fans will deny having read. This is because Sunstone is a work of erotica. It is also, in equal parts, a coming-of-age story, a rom-com, and a slice of life sitcom.
Sunstone is, by the admission of author and artist Stjepan Sejic, largely plotless. This is because the story that became Sunstone started out as a side project Sejic posted on DeviantArt to amuse himself and to keep from burning out on other projects. Sejic relates the full story in this volume in the afterword, but the short version is that he started out drawing short, funny comic strips about a pair of women in a consensual BDSM relationship and then started wondering how these two nerdy, funny women wound up meeting.
The two women in question are Ally and Lisa. Ally is a computer programmer and something of a loner, with no friends apart from her ex-boyfriend Alan. (The relationship ended after they both realized they were Dominants after several years of experimenting in college.) Lisa is an aspiring erotica writer who has yet to act on her submissive fantasies in real life. As Sunstone opens, the two women agree to meet in person after a long flirtation online and what they intend to be something fun and light quickly becomes more serious, to the surprise of both women, neither of whom has ever had a female lover or a dominant/submissive relationship before.
This could have become sleazy or exploitive quite easily, but Sejic’s sense of humor shines throughout, even in the parts of Sunstone that are meant to be purely erotic. As Lisa notes in the book’s introduction, Sunstone is a love story, first and foremost. The fact that it is also full of “hot lesbian bondage sex” is incidental to the fact that the story is all about who Lisa and Ally are as people and why they fall head over heels in love, despite their mutual reluctance to get involved in something serious. For those who aren’t into romance, Sunstone is also a hilarious comedy which mocks those people who think the BDSM in Fifty Shades of Grey was at all accurate to how the subculture truly works.
Sejic’s artwork is as strong as his scripting and dialogue, with each character having a memorable and unique appearance. This is rather important as most of the characters, male and female, are redheads. (A fact which Ally jokes about as she looks around at her friends at one point.) There are a variety of body types on display—literally so, in some pages. Despite the many splash pages and pin-ups, Sejic has a tremendous gift for story flow and guiding the reader’s eye to where it needs to go on pages without clear panel structures.
Sunstone is rated for audiences 18+ and rightly so. This Is not a graphic novel for the prudish, which should not be surprising given the subject matter. However, while this is an erotic comic with men and women in various states of undress throughout and frank discussions of sex, sexuality, and kinks, it is still a story about people and love.
Sunstone: Book One
By Stjepan Sejic
Image Top Cow, 2017
Publisher Age Rating: 18+
NFNT Age Recommendation: Adult (18+)
Character Representation: Bisexual, Lesbian,