Sunstone Vol.2 by Stjepan Sejic (Graphic Novel Review)

Stjepan Sejic released his BDSM-centric OGN Sunstone Volume 1 a few months ago and it was pretty much a hit. Having seen some success with the material on his DeviantArt page, he went a bit further and put it out through Top Cow/Image to a much wider audience. And I have to say that the story really changed my mind about the value of the story contained therein. Sunstone isn’t a pornographic comic by any means. Sure, it has a few racy scenes, but they deserve to be looked at through the context of the story in entirety, which is about two young women coming to terms with their wilder side and maturing into a healthy relationship.

This is where Stjepan picks up in the recently-released Sunstone Volume 2, which takes the story of Ally and Lisa even further. In the previous arc, we met with them as they discovered each other, experimented sexually, opened up about their past and present, and settled down into their budding relationship. Now, we see matters progress further as Lisa is exposed to the wider world of BDSM through Ally’s friends, and she learns some of the more tragic aspects of her history as well. Once again, the story and art are both superb here, and I think that Stjepan does a great job yet again of presenting the material in a way that neither offends the reader, nor belittles the subject.

 In the previous volume we met two imperfect women Ally and Lisa who themselves met on the internet and decided to get into a relationship driven by their shared love of BDSM, where Ally was a dominant and Lisa was a submissive. The first volume explored their early interactions and how they fell in love, as well as giving us a “behind the scenes” scenes look at the world of BDSM. It isn’t just people stringing themselves up and inflicting pain for sexual pleasures. For some, it is a much deeper process with more meaning and emotion than you’d expect. And that’s the space that Sunstone inhabits. It isn’t controversial by any means and, as I said above, it presents BDSM in a very respectful and meaningful way that doesn’t take away from the sexual experience at all. The story is much more about Lisa and Ally’s relationship than it is about BDSM. Which isn’t something you’d expect, and thus one of the major reasons why, for me, Sunstone works so well.

In the new volume, their relationship goes further than before. They are now in love with each other and have become comfortable in their relationship. It doesn’t weird them out so much any more and they enjoy doing what they do, being who they are and are content in that co-space. Most surprising of all is that Stjepan presents a very moving and emotional story when he delves into some aspects of Ally’s past, something brought on by the girls’ visit to a BDSM club, a first-time for Lisa but a repeat experience for Ally, who has been to this particular club before and is also friends with the owner. And here is where the story really goes into overdrive. For a budding submissive like Lisa, what is going to happen to her when she meets other dominants and submissives? Might her relationship with Ally be affected in any way? How might the experience at the club change her entire outlook on BDSM and the roles of submissives and dominants.

That’s what we get to find out here in the most awesome way possible. Stjepan starts things off really slow, but the story starts to pick up the pace in the middle and by the time we are done, it hits its peak. We already know something of the girls’ history from going up and their college years. But now we get to find out more, including a tragic experience from a while back that still affects Ally. The way he presents everything, you get to really learn that BDSM isn’t just some stupid play of giving and receiving pain. It is much more than that. It is precise and exact, requiring the participants to have a great amount of skill, especially if they are on the giving end of things.

The characters themselves, whether we talk about our 2 leads, or the big supporting cast of characters, are all presented in the most wonderful of ways. They can all be dorks outside of their shared experience, but they are also really into BDSM, in one way or another. Stjepan makes each of these characters standout, giving them all different quirks and attitudes, and together as a whole they function really, really well. With the bigger cast there are obviously bigger issues at hand, and all of that goes back into the main story with Lisa and Ally, with the synergy being nothing less than fantastic.

As before, the entirety of the art is by Stjepan himself. And its great. Some amazing close-ups of the characters throughout the OGN and the most striking thing about the art definitely has to be the evident vulnerability of the characters during any emotional, character-driven scenes. You can just feel the love that Ally and Lisa have for each other by looking at their expressions. You can feel their sorrow and their happiness. The comedians among the cast are also great and with the kind of detail that Stjepan puts into his work, well, Sunstone Volume 2 is definitely something. This is the kind of visual consistency I love from artists, and Stjepan is a master of it.

A solid read.

Rating: 10/10

More Sunstone: Volume 1.

More Stjepan Sejic: (Death Vigil) #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6; (Ravine) Vol.1.

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Posted on May 18, 2015, in 2014 Reading Challenge, Challenges, Comics Reviews, Review Central and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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