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‘Sugar Volume 1:’ Trade Paperback Review

Is it getting hot in here, or is it just this book?!

Sugar tells the story of a young college coed who falls into an unlikely “arrangement” with a middle-aged divorcee. It is written by the creative team behind Swing which was another sultry title published by Image / Top Cow earlier this year. These stories are grocery-store-romance-novels in comic form. It’s steaming with erotic imagery. It’s lush with the drama of relational fidelity. It’s downright naughty at times, and, wow, I have not read a comic book like this (on purpose) in a very long time. If are down for a sexy tale and/or are a member of the band Def Leppard, then you will likely be onboard if someone were to pour this BOOK on YOU.

Sugar is written by Matt Hawkins and Jenni Cheung. The story hinges on the likeability and believability of Julia and John, the main protagonists. I am glad Sugar is written by both a man and a woman, because the story never feels one sided. In fact, the story is structured to literally reflect both of their lives separately, as well as their life together. This works in the book’s favor and makes me feel optimistic that I am getting a well-balanced presentation of their complicated sexual minutia.

The story is about sugar-daddy-ism, or the relationship between a sugar-daddy and a sugar-baby along with the social acceptability of this kind of an arrangement. Though the issues being tackled in this book are controversial, Hawkins and Cheung cut the edginess way down by boring you with the details of this exchange. Other than a slight miscommunication about this at first, Julia and John are mostly happy with their decision to proceed this way; however, Sugar as a whole is anything BUT boring. All of the drama comes from the places it probably should: the romantic feelings and attachments of the main characters as they navigate a difficult relationship.

Sugar does a great job of breaking down a modern romantic entanglement for its varied parts. Though not every relationship falls into typical gender roles, a lot of them still do, and they often look similar to John and Julia’s. The question Hawkins and Cheung pose to the reader is, “How is their situation any different from anyone else’s?” John pays for Julia and buys her gifts. Granted, they are expensive gifts, but John is rich. The only thing controversial is that they have chosen to label themselves as a sugar-daddy and sugar-baby which just sounds weird to most people. But Sugar does not seem to think so.

Now, let’s get honest. You likely ARE NOT reading Sugar for a clinical study in the lives of two consenting adults trying manage an a-typical dating structure. You likely ARE reading Sugar for the hot savoriness of it all. Well, you’re in luck, because this book is filled to the brim with delightful softcore, rompish fun. Yishan Li does the art for the book, and, holy-mackerel, this book is tastefully drawn to give the reader excitement sweats. She seems to be really adept at drawing scenes that convey both passion and emotional depth. I can only review this aspect of the book through the uncomfortable lens of a man-child’s experience, but let’s just say I did pre-order this book for my mom. I think she will really enjoy it, because she enjoys listening to audiobooks about vampires having sex with each other.

It needs to be mentioned that this book has far more to offer than just sexual hijinks. Li’s art is truly beautiful. Here is the least sexy frame I could find to prove it.

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This panel is truly breathtaking. Sugar is full of these.

Whether you are into romance novels or just into really great art filled with revealing images of human nakedness, Sugar is here for you. It’s kind to its characters and has plenty to offer both men and women.  No, not everything in this book is going to feel like a genuine retelling of an honest emotional experience. This is a fantasy, and a piping hot one at that.

Creative Team: Matt Hawkins (writer), Jenni Cheung (writer), Trishan Li (art)
Publisher: Image – Top Cow
Click here to purchase.

Jeremy Schmidt, Fanbase Press Contributor



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