pinterest-p mail bubble share2 google-plus facebook twitter rss reddit linkedin2 stumbleupon
TOP

CBR

The Premium The Premium The Premium

Sejic’s “Sunstone” Brings Romantic Comedy to the World of BDSM

by  in Comic News Comment
Sejic’s “Sunstone” Brings Romantic Comedy to the World of BDSM

No matter how prolific a comic creator is, there will come a time when they get creatively “stuck.” Some have rituals that help them overcome this writer’s block, while others put their heads down and attempt to blast on through. A lucky few, however, end up discovering new passions or finding ones that lay dormant inside themselves. Writer/artist Stjepan Sejic (“Witchblade,” “Death Vigil,” “Ravine”) is happy to say he belongs to these few, and the result is the original graphic novel “Sunstone,” coming this December from Top Cow’s Minotaur Press imprint.

The title of this book, while relevant to the story, doesn’t truly give a sense of the content inside. Per its solicitation, “two women deal with modern themes of sex, relationships, and fetishism in this erotic romantic comedy.” While one doesn’t typically see words like fetishism, erotic, and romantic comedy in the same sentence, the few hundred thousand readers of this story that began life as a deviantART webcomic would agree with the description.

One could almost say the story is like “When Harry Met Sally,” except with two women… dressed in leather… with ropes and chains… yet still containing all the awkwardness and sweetness that comes with two people falling in love. It’s definitely apparent that “Sunstone” is a unique beast. CBR News was fortunate enough to have a chat with Sejic about the book and the webcomic’s intriguing origin.

CBR News: Stjepan, from your postings on deviantART, it’s clear that the webcomic came about when you were struggling in your professional life. Can you explain to our readers how you transformed a “writer’s block” into a “Sunstone?”

Stjepan Sejic: Three years ago, I almost quit comics. It wasn’t the comics — it was me. I was done. Burned out. I’d hit the wall and couldn’t move past it. I was drawing, but there was no love. So one day, I was moping in my chair and I started thinking, “Where did it all go? The energy, the motivation, the fire. I used to have it in surplus, but now it’s gone.” Then I started reminiscing…

Before I got into comics, my family was penniless. I worked two jobs on average — three at times in the summer — and so did my parents. But then a weird confluence happened: I was asked to draw some fetish erotic comics. (It’s Europe people, calm down.)

When the offer came in, I was ecstatic and got quite a bit of reference material e-mailed to me. I started working on some test samples — fetishistic leather and latex stuff — and I was loving it. What can I say? The damn things are a ton of fun to draw. Just ask any superhero artist…

I was a twenty year-old comic artist wannabe who just got his first chance to get some work published and get paid for it. But then, other offers started rolling in. First came “Kade” for Arcana comics, and then Top Cow’s offer came in. I accepted Top Cow’s offer and never regretted that choice, but then why was I experiencing this “burned out” feeling?

So, in a moment that proved to be of auspicious importance, I turned to my wife and asked, “What do you think if I made a new account on deviantART for fetishy artwork? Just to have some fun and see how fast it could rise in popularity?”

The next half hour was spent with us trying to figure out an account name that wasn’t taken and had relevance to the material. We ended up with Shiniez, because… well, screw grammar! So I started drawing and the old storyteller bug kicked in, and I found myself sticking to two characters. Then something happened — these characters started talking.

Somewhere in the back of my mind, a spark of the old creative fire awakened. At first, I thought I would just kinda do funny comics about fetishism and bondage, but the characters had different plans. These characters wanted more and had more to offer.

“Sunstone” was born. All of a sudden it stopped being about fetishism and became a comic about fetishists: about their lives, their hobby, and their relationships, honesty, and communication. It’s about their virtues and their flaws; about the good and bad and the downright hilarious aspects of sexuality… and about that “rise in popularity” challenge I set for myself. I couldn’t have guessed — I couldn’t have dreamed

This is the comic that saved my creativity. It reignited my fire and poured napalm over it, and here I am now. And beyond that, it got my wife [Linda Sejic] started in comics. At first she just assisted me, flattening colors and helping out with information only a woman could provide. But soon after, something clicked in her and she started writing and drawing too. The next thing I knew, she started a hilarious webcomic series which, in fact, shares continuity with “Sunstone.”

Who the hell saw any of this coming?

It sounds like it’s been a crazy, yet fun, ride. Can you tell us a bit more about the story and your main characters?

The story is about Ally and Lisa, one a submissive and the other a dominatrix. Individually, they both had problems getting their particular “itches” scratched, so they decided on a friendly arrangement. From there, however, things get a bit tricky. It turns out they may be falling for each other, but due to the nature of their relationship, they are reluctant to admit it. Hilarity ensues.

The story is primarily told through the eyes of Lisa. She is literally the narrator of it all, as she is writing a book about her experiences. This aspect provides quite a bit of amusement, as she is known to exaggerate things (which Ally is ready to point out and call bullshit on). Through their interactions, we get to know them as people and get some fun, and often funny, insight into their little hobby. And we get to see that BDSM is the sexual equivalent of pro-wrestling — a lot of make-believe, roleplaying, and a ton of fun, but people can get hurt if not done right. This means “Sunstone” is also a story about trust. It is about sexuality, emotions, and the courage to face these elements of the human experience.

You live in Croatia, but your storytelling and dialogue feel very American. When it comes to topics like fetishism or erotica, do you feel that Croatia is more liberal or conservative than America?

There is less scrutiny. People generally have the attitude of, “Dude, I’m trying to survive month to month — what the hell do I care?”

You mentioned you had some history with drawing this genre previously. If you don’t mind me asking, how familiar are you with this subject matter? Was research needed? Can I ask about your reference images?

For years, both my wife and I laughed our asses off at reactions to BDSM. I would equate it to seeing LARPers hitting each other with fake weapons and yelling, “Won’t someone stop this madness?!?”

BDSM is a consensual game of make-believe. A majority of BDSM practitioners are a bunch of sexual nerds spending way too much money on outfits and toys, getting invested in LARPing, and loving every moment of it!

Sure, every now and then, some people take it too seriously and take their fetishism too far. And by the law of extremes and lazy learning, we form opinions and stereotypes based on those people. But the same can be said for any activity.

As for the visual side to it, I had no need for references. Think about it: working in comics industry, we draw more than our share of fetish wear. The damn stuff is so prevalent in the designs of comics and video games that most of us, to a certain extent, become fetish-wear experts. So now, I just design my own.

I know you’re redoing the art and bridging story gaps from the pages on deviantART. How much work and reformatting was required?

I beefed up the first chapter for Book One by adding some nice material, and improved the anatomy and style to match the later chapters. But yeah, reformatting was a major pain in the neck. Still I must admit the result is quite an improvement. And I added a scene with a digitally-inserted Chewbacca… eh, maybe not!

Between “Sex” and “Sex Criminals,” it’s clear Image isn’t afraid of pushing boundaries when it comes to content. That said, your book walks this line between a relationship comedy and erotica. Were there any concerns?

The key aspect of those comics is that they are good stories. I firmly believe you can write a good story about anything. And sexuality is hardly an exception.

When it comes to “Sunstone,” it is an erotic romantic comedy, but it is certainly not something that should be marked as an “All-Ages” read. It is an adult-themed book for adults. The themes of sexuality and relationships in this story are intertwined, and often one serves as a potent metaphor for another. One of the things most often heard when people talk about “Sunstone” is, “No, really — it’s not what you think.”

Stjepan Å ejić Invites Readers To Join His “Death Vigil”

You seem to be constantly working on a handful of projects at once. What other projects should readers of “Sunstone” be on the lookout for from you?

Currently, I am spamming out “Death Vigil” monthly with Image Comics. After the first eight issues and the completion of the first arc, I will see if it is financially viable to publish all three planned arcs. I certainly hope so.

And after an atrocious string of bad luck, the “Ravine: Book Two” graphic novel finally came out in October. Then there is a plan to publish a book that is currently called “Teen Witchblade” — it’s sort of an Ultimate Universe take on Witchblade. And I also have “IXth Generation” with Matt Hawkins, which is a sequel to our “Aphrodite IX” run.

With all that work on your plate, I’m sure your fans are hoping you won’t experience “burn out” again anytime soon. However, they may feel torn on this issue if the result is another book like “Sunstone!”

“Sunstone” is scheduled for release on December 24 from Top Cow/Minotaur Press.

  • Ad Free Browsing
  • Over 10,000 Videos!
  • All in 1 Access
  • Join For Free!
GO PREMIUM WITH CBR
Go Premium!

More Videos