OK, here’s one from me that I don’t think I’ve mentioned here before.
I’ve been working through the collected editions of Sunstone, a webcomics series by Stjepan Sejic that has been collected into TPBs (both physical and digital) by Image/Top Cow. I’m halfway through the fourth collection at the moment (of five that are currently available) and still enjoying it.
It’s basically about a romance between two women who are both into the BDSM scene, one of whom has submissive tendencies and one dominant. It explores their relationship and how it connects to the lives of people around them, many of whom also have varying degrees of interest in BDSM.
I first found out about it through one of the ‘artist recommendation’ threads here, where Sejic was mentioned and this series referenced. And his artwork is excellent - it varies between being fairly sketchy and loose to being very detailed and carefully-rendered, and he uses the shift in art styles to highlight particular moments in the story - and the difference between our lead characters’ inner lives and the lives that they display to the outside world - without every making the different parts of the story feel disconnected from each other. Some of his more detailed art is just amazing (and there’s plenty of process stuff in the extras at the back of each collection).
Sejic also manages to avoid the comic feeling at all exploitative or gratuitous, both in terms of the artwork and the writing. While it features plenty of frank and honest discussion of sex - and sex scenes - it genuinely feels like it all serves the story and the exploration of the characters, first and foremost, rather than feeling like it’s been included to titillate above all else. And often it serves to demystify or clarify aspects of BDSM culture that the reader might have misconceptions about, and does so in a very positive and constructive way.
Above all, the characters are very endearing and engaging, and it’s impossible not to get sucked into their lives and their increasingly complicated web of relationships, in the same way that a good serialised story or soap-opera will keep you hooked.
It might not be for everyone - some people may be turned off by the occasional graphic imagery, even though the book is largely fairly ‘clean’ and inoffensive - but this was a very different kind of comic to the kind of thing I usually read, and I was really glad I picked it up. The individual volumes are often on sale on Comixology (it’s how I bought them), so maybe worth checking out the first one if you see it cheap.