Sunstone: better that Fifty Shades of Grey, and considerably shorter

To get the obvious out of the way, the author describes this graphic novel as an “erotic romantic comedy”. There are nude lesbians in bondage gear in it.  If that’s a dealbreaker for you, there are some other great graphic novel reviews on this site.

Sunstone: Volume One launched on the New York Times best-seller list for comics.  To do that it needed to outsell stuff from Marvel and DC, despite the rough draft of the entire run being available for free on the artist’s page.  That link’s not suitable for work.  Well, it depends where you work, I suppose.

Sunstone is a brilliant character study. If you accept Tolstoy’s view that the role of the novel is to allow you to live in the mind of the characters, so that you are filled with greater sympathy for other people, then this is for you. The two lead characters are negotiating degrees of emotional and sexual intimacy in a subculture that is, if not exactly feared then broadly misunderstood. The author makes it clear in his opening coda that the relationship will ultimately succeed. He then tortures his characters by making them first sexual partners, then friends, then flatmates, then mutually attracted people too fearful of losing everything else to attempt romantic overtures.

Sejic is a master of the format. His use of the control of the movement of time given by the graphic novel structure is brilliant. His lettering is great, his choice of tone palate is interesting. It may be that before it I’d been reading a lot of work that uses radically-simple art, like The Vision, Through the Woods and Nimona, but I thought this art skilfully done. Human figures are harder to draw than aliens or superheroes. If you are interested in the technique of writing graphic novels, then this is worth checking out.

I’d also like to quickly mention that Sejic’s wife and collaborator has a book of her own, Blood Stain, which is a Gothic comedy. It is only two volumes in, so the characters and plot are less developed, but I have high hopes it will turn out similarly well.  Her artist’s page is mostly suitable for work.

Sunstone: Volume One is available from the Library Service.  Volumes two through five are available from the artist’s website.