Published on August 11th, 2018 | by Chris O'Connor
Sugar Volume 1 OGN Comic Review
Summary: Can a relationship form out of a businesslike arrangement or will things get too complicated?
I jumped at the chance to read Sugar based on it being stated as a “companion book to both SUNSTONE and SWING”. I loved Sunstone, I thought it was wonderfully written and had stunning art work. A love story wrapped up in latex and Shibari knot work. While Sugar isn’t bad… it doesn’t hold a candle dripping wax on wanton flesh to Sunstone. The premise essentially is a middle aged man has recently (relatively) split from his wife and is somewhat lost emotionally. A young college student is trying hard to make ends meet and is seemingly always unlucky in love. These two cross paths and one thing leads to another. But it’s the fine details that felt like stumbling blocks for me.
I need to stress that Sugar was read through the filter of/comparison to Sunstone and that’s not an easy title to live up to… the story in that felt natural. Sugar I think suffers from “having to make the situation fit”. I can see what Matt and Jenni were trying to do… and they nearly do it… but there are just certain events that seem jarringly wrong. The first and arguably biggest issue given it’s kind of what the whole setup relies on is when our main character John gets dragged along to a Sugar Daddy event he does so reluctantly… he seems to will himself into giving it a try and then it doesn’t turn out well. John retreats to a bar and meets our other main character, Julia our cash strapped young student who he met briefly in her day job. They discuss the whole Sugar Daddy scenario with John referring to it as Whack and Julia saying she doesn’t mind the age thing but the being paid to be someone’s girlfriend is an issue. Before long though they both drop into that dynamic and there is no real discussion of them coming to terms with that idea… in fact the first hint of it indeed has Julia being offended that she has been given money after they spent time together. It just feels like the Sugar Daddy aspect has been forced into the scenario because without that I think it would work much better. The two kindred souls meeting at difficult times in their lives (still room for issues/conflict) can get together… but instead we have this overhanging notion that he is paying her to spend time with him (despite her clearly being interested in doing so for reasons other than the money). It just felt clunky.
The artwork is however very nice and works quite well with the story. There are some lovely little segue pages and “visual effects” throughout that give it that sort of magical romantic feel. When needed it does get a little more blue in tone for seedier times or the more “mature” moments. Overall the visuals have a nice soft tone to them that are quite inviting.
I understand there needed to be a “theme” or a “unique” bent to the story… but I think it could have been introduced better (the whole Sugar Daddy setup could work… but there needs to be a scene in which the two discuss it and perhaps agree that for their situation it does work… there is a scene that does attempt this but it just seems a bit awkward). Not a terrible story but for me Sunstone is a much better choice for romance with a generous serve of kink.
Publisher: Image Comics
Writer: Matt Hawkins, Jenni Cheung
Artist: Yishan Li
Cover Artist: Yishan Li
Format: 125pgs, FC, OGN
Release Date: 29th August, 2018