Comic Book Review: Sunstone Volume 3
Stjepan Sejic’s “Sunstone” is hands down the sexiest comic book series I’ve ever read. What started off as a webcomic has become an Amazon best seller and huge fan favorite thanks to it’s blunt approach to the subject matter, gorgeous art and compelling characters. “Sunstone Volume 3” takes things up another notch but it’s worth noting that Sejic is playing the long game. This won’t be something that gets wrapped up quickly in one more volume and the twists and turns of “Sunstone Volume 3” have me anxiously awaiting more.
“Sunstone Volume 3” opens with Anne, who we met in the previous volume, doing a well intended Google search about BDSM. Anne, best friends with Cassie, is starting to become curious about this world but also holds on to some of her judgments and fears about it. Anne is going to be a huge part of this story going forward as has been told to us by Lisa narrations in two volumes now and there’s a nice level of foreshadowing in regards to her place in this story. Elsewhere, Lisa’s brother, facing some of his own relationships problems, surprises her with a visit that sends her deep into her own relationships worries. Once she seems Ally though, her outlook changes. Lisa and Ally have, up to this point, enjoyed their nights together. It’s been almost all sexual but their feelings for each other are starting to grow a bit. “Sunstone Volume 3” begins to open up this world a lot more and we’re getting a lot closer to each of these characters. It’s here, with this volume, that the supporting cast gets fleshed out a bit more but more importantly, more stereotypes about BDSM are broken down.
“Sunstone Volume 3” is another winner. Sejic keeps things going at a very nice pace and describing this as jam packed is a bit of an understatement. As mentioned, the supporting cast gets widened quite a bit but unlike the last volume, they get some real development. Friendship and trust are huge themes for “Sunstone” so Sejic uses her friendship with Cassie to describe the two of them while providing context for Anne’s confusion and Cassie’s openness to BDSM and subsequent adoption of the lifestyle. Many, many other writers would have lost Anne’s agency as a character by telling her “origin” story through a tale of friendship. Romance stories tend to do that; the relationships consume the characters and it can be tough to understand motivations and personality quirks. That doesn’t happen with Anne or Cassie or even Tom. On the flipside, Sejic is moving the romance between Lisa and Ally very quickly but it’s not painted in the best light. The two of them begin to make some huge decisions about each other in a short amount of time but it’s not really candy coated. We are well aware of the dangers thanks to the narration and foreshadowing. It’s not entirely glamorized to the point that the books becomes problematic.
“Sunstone” can get very wordy by conventional comic book standards but it’s because Sejic allows his characters to speak to us so that we can understand them better. Sejic’s strong suit as a writer is dialogue. The conversations between the characters are really a joy to read and because Lisa has been telling us the story, the narration also benefits from the great sense of humor that Sejic has as a writer. The narration is also used to educate us about BDSM and the spotlight is put on being submissive and enjoying acts like spanking and flogging. Thanks to “Fifty Shades of Grey”, there is a bit of glamorization that comes with being abused. That’s not what BDSM is and Lisa’s monologue about flogging, how it needs to be done and finding the trust with the domme is a perfect scene that sheds so much light on something that hasn’t been painted the best way. For someone like me, who knows nothing about BDSM, “Sunstone” has been great and eliminating the stereotypes I had in my mind.
Sejic’s artwork had me, at times, fanning myself. The scenes between Ally and Lisa are so sensual and sexy without turning into something gross. He allows the characters to be with each other in a loving manner and roleplay with a bond of trust that comes through his art. Ally doesn’t ever appear angry and Lisa never looks pained. They are both visually happy and dare I say, in love with each other. Lisa and Ally are not drawn with wild, unrealistic proportions but they are beautiful in a very authentic way. The facial expressions, which is really where Sejic shines, are varied and always perfectly paired with the scene. Anne’s shock, confusion and interest when she does her Google search is hilarious. The flashback to Cassie and Tom meeting and getting married is adorable and truly in line with your typical romance novel. I particularly like the way he has Ally and Lisa initially greet each other. As the reader, you can feel the nerves, excitement and bubbly love. The costumes are gorgeous and obviously well researched. You can see the differences in fabric and the added sweat beads enhance the visualization of the latex. There are these beautiful dream like sequences that happen throughout the book like when Lisa takes some alone time in the bathroom. It’s not entirely clear why this happens but it might be some of the best work Sejic has ever done. These pages are impeccably detailed down to single hair strands and texture in Lisa’s lips. Even the lettering is finely detailed with some fun variations in bubbles.
“Sunstone Volume 3” is yet another excellent chapter in this ongoing story. It’s sexy, thought provoking and gorgeous to look at. It’s not the best place to jump in but like the very best manga, this is worth the investment.