Two women deal with modern themes of sex, relationships, and fetishism in this erotic romantic comedy. So beware all who enter, because, to quote a few hundred thousand readers on DeviantArt: “I’m not into BDSM…but this story…I get it.”
The “synopsis” above gives the reader little to no information about this series. I won’t lie – I only picked it up because I am a huge fan of this artist. I loved his work in Rat Queens and Death Vigil, so when I saw this at work, I decided to check it out.
I was extremely unprepared.
The story is told by Lisa (the red head) in Volume 1 as she’s writing a story about her relationship with Allison or Ally (the one with the glasses). Following in the footsteps of 50 Shades of Grey and the subsequent novels that came after, this is a story about BDSM. Unlike 50 Shades of Not-Really-BDSM, Sunstone gets it right. Ally and Lisa first meet online, and through the evolution of friendship and a mutual interest in bondage, they decide to meet in person. Lisa had never been a practitioner of BDSM before meeting Ally; she’d never found the right partner. Ally, the domme in the situation, had been in a few relationships before Lisa, but none felt right. The series follows them from the awkward beginning into the familiar and always heinous moments of “catching feelings”.
The way BDSM is handled
Due to recent popular books, people have an extremely skewed view of the BDSM society. They see subs as only masochists and doms/dommes as only sadists and while some of these people do exist within this large society, not everyone into BDSM is. We see this explained thoroughly within Sunstone: almost every character we meet is part of the large community of “sexual deviants,” but their roles vary. Some are married couples, some are lawyers, some are engineers, and some make a career within the community.
As Ally and Lisa explain it, though, BDSM is more like an elaborate game of roleplay. The sub has tto fully commit to being a submissive person for their dom, and the dom has to fully commit to their role as well. Anyone who has had sex can agree that sex is messy. There’s laughter and fumbling and half the time you have no idea what you’re doing. In the dom/sub relationship, the dom has to exude confidence that they are in control. It’s part of the game. No matter what they say, how corny it might sound or how ridiculous it looks, it’s the job of the sub to just go with it. Obviously safe words are created for moments the sub is no longer feeling it, but if the dom says to them, “Today, my pet, I’m going to show you the result of your naughty behavior. Now get down on your knees,” the sub has to act like they’re terrified of punishment (even though they want it), and that what the dom said wasn’t some overly cliched nonsense.
This new “Mr. Grey” fiasco has people thinking there are men and women out there who are like this 24/7 and, while there are, the majority are “normal” people. They have day jobs. They’re teachers and nurses and firefighters and cops and when they’re done at work, they come home and tie up their significant other (or be tied up by them).
Stjepan is a great writer. A lot of writers have a hard time making differing personalities for each character and, because of that, usually only write two or three main characters. It’s easy to keep them separate that way. Sunstone has about 10+ characters and each one has a different relationship with the other. Not only are Ally and Lisa romantically involved, they’re also best friends. Ally has a few more BDSM-inclined friends than Lisa, but when they all get together it’s a seamless flow. This isn’t to say they’re all perfect because, like any friendship, there are a good amount of misunderstandings and arguments. That’s what makes the story so good; Stjepan isn’t afraid to hurt his characters.
I’m sorry to make this such a quick post, but I wanted to write something since I haven’t been on in ages. If you’re looking for a graphic novel with some hilarious characters and a story similar to a soap opera, pick up Sunstone and then check out his other work. You won’t regret it!