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Webcomic / Sunstone

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"Dear reader, this is the story of how I met the woman of my life, the one that compli... Wait, don't leave yet! This book has lots of Hot Lesbian Bondage Sex!!!! Good... That got your attention..."

Sunstone is a slice-of-life, BDSM-centric webcomic about the various relationships of people in and around the fetish scene, written and drawn by the Croatian comics artist Stjepan Šejić of Witchblade, Harleen and Death Vigil fame. Šejić is also known to the dA community as Nebezial and is married to Linda Luksic Sejic, the artist and writer of the shared-universe webcomic Blood Stain and the Greek mythology webcomic Punderworld.

Initially focused on Lisa Williams, a budding writer who kept her submissive desires secret for years, and Allison Carter, an adorkable dominant woman largely isolated from the world around her, the original strip follows the pair as their initial online chat leads to their meeting in the real world. Complications ensue as their friendship and play-based relationship quickly develops much further than intended, and both women have to come to terms with their mutual attraction while dealing with their personal issues along the way.

The author considers the comic a way to communicate the message that BDSM can be performed in a Safe, Sane, and Consensual manner and within loving relationships, and the story and strong characterisation features just as prominently as the fetish artwork. Major supporting characters include Alan, a world-class Deadpan Snarker who Experimented in College with Ally in various kinds of BDSM play; Anne, a free-spirited tattoo artist who protests a little too much about the alternative lifestyles of her friends; and Tom and Cassie, a happily married couple who are more casual about the scene but still enjoy the BDSM world as a part of who they are.

Sunstone, that is, Lisa and Ally's story, concluded on October 27, 2016—almost five years after Šejić had uploaded the first drafts to DA. He has since started the follow-up comic Mercy, or Sunstone: Mercy as the print books are titled, which focuses on Alan and Anne, starting with more details about Alan's college years and relationship with Ally, and Anne's friendship with Cassie and discovery of her bisexuality. He also has future plans for two more titles in the same universe; Jasper, which focuses on side characters Marion and James; and a third, as of yet unnamed, future comic that will tie them all up.

The work has gone into print as a series of graphic novels by Top Cow; the print versions feature remastered artwork to address a few inconsistencies in the original web versions, slightly rewritten dialogue and additional bonus content. Additionally, the 'random pictures' folder on the dA site contains pin-ups and non-canon strips that the author created in the comic's early days, though many of them have since been adapted or expanded upon and introduced into the main story.

As Sunstone is hosted on Pixiv; note that you must have an account and allow explicit content in order to read it, due to the frequent NSFW content.

This webcomic contains examples of:

  • An Aesop: Real love needs more than sex. Even really amazing, hot, kinky sex.
    Lisa: All of the bedroom games, the tops and bottoms, they mean little-to-nothing beyond their natural habitat. Outside of the kink we were two people in love, and we both needed to put in the effort to make this work. It was a simple lesson on the surface and yet many forget this by sacrificing it on the altar of personal comfort.
  • Alliterative Name: Marianne Murphy
  • Afraid of Needles: Cassie, much to Lisa's amusement.
  • Aggressive Submissive: Lisa is assertive and generally self-confident (she does experience self-doubt in some matters, of course) in most of her life, while also being a sexual submissive; note that this is not particularly unusual in real life. She starts off each of her and Ally's games by calling Ally "Mistress", but doesn't hesitate to use "sunstone" to stop or even just pause them.
  • Alternate Continuity: The older pieces are more random, stylistically different, and a bit....unsafe. They're mostly fetish pinups, with a few plottier moments (like Ally's noncanon Anguished Declaration of Love). See Early-Installment Weirdness.
  • Ambiguously Jewish: A number of characters use "oy" as an interjection. Since the comic is set in New York, that may just be Yiddish as a Second Language, as mentioned infra.
  • Amicable Exes: Ally and Alan's current relationship, as their past relationship ended badly and made them both realize that going beyond friendship is just going to lead to more hurt.
  • Anguished Declaration of Love: In an alternate strip note , the first time Ally tells Lisa she loves her, she's drunk as a post (to the point that she doesn't even realize she's talking to Lisa). The anguished part comes when Ally wakes up hungover and straightjacketed, and Lisa gently teases her for it before returning her affection. The actual continuity has Lisa make the declaration.
  • Arc Symbol: Jigsaw puzzles. They're a tool for Lisa to figure out her writing, but they take on a much more symbolic meaning as the series goes on.
  • Arc Words: "Sunstone", Ally's safeword which she gives to all of her subs, which has become the official title of the comic.
  • Art Evolution:
    • Some pinups are far more realistic, rather than slightly stylized.
    • The comic's art got a general clean up for the graphic novel.
  • Author Appeal: Spoiler: Stjepan likes bondage. Also, redheads.
  • Author Tract: It is common to encounter short speeches from the characters' mouths about BDSM informing the reader of such things as the importance of considering safety, the responsibility of the Dom and the importance of trust and honesty in the relationship, but given the reasoning that this comic partially exists to educate and dispel myths these moments do not feel out of place. Moreover, the comic more often than not shows the reader why this is the case for the characters. It also helps that the comic shows a character who is both uninterested in BDSM and oblivious to its inner workings yet doesn't look down on him.
  • Bad Liar: Tom doesn't seem to realise that, although it is fun to allude to the truth during a lie, it can be detrimental to the lie effect. However, Cassie also flatly says he has no poker face, so he may just be bad at it all around.
  • Beneath the Mask: A recurring theme is masks and how, despite the fact these characters use persona in their BDSM, beneath these masks they are all perfectly normal (and in Ally's case adorkable) people. This quote adequately sums the author's attitude up succinctly:
    ''fetishists and eople who are into bdsm are pretty much sexual cosplayers/roleplayers and sure, a minority of us takes things too far, and unfortunately, we get observed through the prism of the extremes of the minority.

    pretty much s if gamers were all considered to be crazy obsessive pros cursing out people and dying from excessive gaming marathons.

    stereotypes are tools of the lazy mind.. and one of the ideas behind this story is to dispel at least some of them
    *shiniez, 26th July 2013
  • Berserk Button: Ally flies off the handle during an MMO session when Dr. Stein needs on and ends up with a boss drop she had her eye on, resulting in a Cluster F-Bomb-laden PVP duel. Which she then loses when talking to Lisa makes her go AFK (away from keyboard), allowing Vlad to take her out.
  • Beta Couple: Alan and Anne are this in the finale of the first arc, although Sejic has confirmed they will be the focus of the second arc. Tom and Cassie qualify much more neatly.
  • The Big Damn Kiss: Between Ally and Lisa at the end of Volume 5 when Ally finally figures it out.
  • Big Eater: Mercy shows that in the future, a heavily pregnant Anne has become this. When Alan goes out to get coffee during their interview with Lisa, she demands that he bring back chocolate chip cookies, with Lisa joking that Anne's become "a cookie-monster".
  • Big "WHAT?!": Ally after reading Lisa's last story. Not helped by Lisa ending it on a cliffhanger (to bait Ally into agreeing to meet at Crimson).
  • Blonde, Brunette, Redhead: Anne, Ally and Lisa, respectively.
  • Body Horror: Played in disturbingly realistic fashion when we're shown the dangers of careless rope work. Marion, having become obsessed with trying to prove Alan wrong about 24/7 submission (which Alan isn't into for a variety of reasons, chiefest among them being that it is highly stressful for the dom), ties herself up but uses the wrong sort of knots on her wrists and improper positioning of the ropes on the bed, and finds herself trapped and alone for hours while the blood circulation to her hands is cut off. By the time Ally finds her, her hands have gone lifeless and visibly dark grey in colour. It gets worse when we're told this had caused blood clots and Marion could have lost her hands, if not her life.
  • Bondage Is Bad
    • Averted completely. Sejic has stated that the comic exists to show healthy BDSM relationships accurately and educate people on the falsehood of this trope.
    • Also deconstructed, as the comic acknowledges this popular view of BDSM and also looks at how BDSM can realistically go wrong when people let it go to their heads or don't give it the needed prior planning.
  • Book Ends: Several seemingly minor elements from Volume 1 are reflected in Volume 5. The jigsaw puzzle and Ally waking Alan up with a phone call. With some distinct differences. A nod is made to it in universe by our narrator Future Lisa.
  • Bound and Gagged: Lisa, Anne, and sometimes Allison (Ally's alter-ego in Lisa's stories) are featured this way. Even Alan had his moments during his and Ally's college experimentations.
  • Brains and Bondage: Allison is some kind of software programmer, and the rest of the cast don't seem to be slouches in the intelligence department either.
  • Brick Joke: During their first meeting Ally ponders on getting a cat to complete her "villain" look. Come Volume 3, she ends up babysitting her neighbor's cat AND nailing said villain look!
  • Buffy Speak: When describing her first S&M movie, Ally discusses the "porny exaggeration" and "costumey visual side."
  • Callback: The jigsaw puzzle Lisa uses to figure out her last story to Ally in Volume 5.
  • The Cameo:
    • Lisa and Ally have a cameo appearance in the restaurant where Clara declares her love to Jon.
    • Lisa, Ally, Alan and Anne have a cameo in a bar in Fine Print, where Ally and Lisa are showing off Lisa's engagement ring.
  • Can't Hold His Liquor: Four vodka cranberries turns Ally into the "honest drunk."
  • Can't Spit It Out
    • Ally is good at talking in circles and not getting to the point when she's nervous or scared, to the extent that when she tells Lisa the story about Alan and Marion, she rambles for fifteen minutes without progressing it one bit. Fortunately, Lisa is also good at getting it out of her.
    • Both women have a major problem admitting that they love each other and that they're not Just Friends, which ends up biting them in a big way come Volume 4.
  • Caught with Your Pants Down: Allison is caught indulging in some "alone time" by Alan after her quite memorable first night with Lisa.
  • Character Tics
  • Chivalrous Pervert: The majority of the cast, but Alan in particular.
    Alan: Imma be off now...give you girls some "privacy"...tho' I wouldn't say no to some photos.
    Jane: You jackass, I've got a boyfriend.
    Alan: Oh, I'm sure he wouldn't mind having some photos, too.
  • Coolest Club Ever: Harper's club the characters visit (and Chris and Alan do commissions for) is pretty impressive in both size and furnishings with a stage and a VIP lounge; it also hosts frequent S&M performances. Sejic has said that the series is set in New York so the club isn't implausible.
  • Comedic Underwear Exposure: Subverted when Alan meets Lisa for the first time, as she had been on her way to the bathroom when he came in, and was only wearing a robe.
    Alan: *thinking* I see Paris, I see France, guess what I'm not seeing?!
  • Coming-Out Story: One major story element is that despite talking BDSM and several sessions of webcam masturbation, both Ally and Lisa considered themselves straight (and had only ever had sex with men) before their first session. On the way to Ally's house, Lisa momentarily panics when she realizes that she's about to engage in lesbian sex ("She is a woman!...What if she turns the key and my engine doesn't, like, start running?"), and one of the series' major themes is them having to come to terms with their mutual attraction along with their roles in the D/S part of their relationship. Ally eventually admits it to Alan ("I'm... gay." "Like a rainbow unicorn.") and a future strip teases at how Lisa will eventually introduce her girlfriend to her family. They're shown getting married in a "bonus" drawing included at the end of Volume 5.
  • Conveniently Common Kink: There are a LOT of BDSM practitioners in this comic. Largely justified as they all either met each other through the scene, or entered the scene due to meeting each other.
  • Costume Porn: And how! This series displays some stunning examples of fetish fashion, sometimes dedicating huge lengths of page to showing someone's full costume. Subtropes include:
    • Collared by Fashion/Slave Collar. Fetish collars appear regularly in the comic: all the subs have them. Most of them are leather but special mention goes to the one Alan provides Anne which is made of solid silver and the appearances of posture collars. Lisa apparently gets one too, indicated by one of the pictures in the creators gallery.
    • Cool Mask: Harper and other performers at his club have notably cool masks.
    • Of Corsets Sexy: Sported by all three girls at various points. Possibly Alan as well in the future.
    • Dressed All in Rubber: Common; the dress Lisa wears to the club is just one example.
    • Sexy Santa Dress: Worn by all three girls during their first Christmas together.
    • Costume-Test Montage: In Volume 3, where the majority of a strip is dedicated to Lisa and Ally spending an hour just trying on Ally's very extensive costume collection and earlier in the first volume where both are getting ready for their first meeting.
    • In an as-yet future strip (which may end up being one of Lisa's stories) Ally takes both Lisa and Anne to Blizz Con, with her dressed as a Blood Elf and them dressed as Draenai. Also results in a Jizzed in My Pants moment to some unfortunate nerd that commented on Girl on Girl Is Hot... who is then treated to some very lurid details of this by Anne.
  • Crack is Cheaper: Collecting BDSM equipment and outfits is Ally's only recreational spending outlet; when Lisa asks Ally how much has been spent on all this stuff Ally refuses to answer. Word of God is that it's been forty grand. Alan even calls her out on her extravagant spending in one strip. Ally had spent so much money on stuff that just sat in her closet that Alan actually cut her off and refused to sell her any more (at least until Lisa comes along and they start putting the numerous outfits to use).
  • Crazy-Prepared: It seems that Ally is equipped to handle many different fetishes and situations that arises (likely because of the situation outlined in the Crack Is Cheaper entry above). Lampshaded in a strip.
    Lisa: I thought you weren't into Pet Play?
    Ally: I was never in the scouts either but I still stick to the ''Always be Prepared" motto.
  • Creator Cameo: An odd example, but Tom looks identical to Sejic's drawings of himself despite Tom being an original character. Tom's wife Cassie doesn't look too far off from Stjepan's wife Linda either, except that Linda has auburn hair while Cassie is a full-on redhead.
  • Daydream Surprise: Some of the earlier, more outlandish strips have been revealed to be fantasies of one or more main characters.
  • Deadpan Snarker
    • Alan, very much so. Overlaps with First-Person Smartass when he thinks of something snarky to say but decides against it.
    • Cassie is also quite the snarker and quite a talented one at that. Tom at one point jokes that, being a lawyer, she even prepares for arguments with her brother (mostly coming up ahead of time with clever put-downs to use on him).
  • Death Glare
    • Ally shoots Cassie a vicious one of these when the latter walks in on Ally and Lisa in an, um, intimate moment in the ladies' bathroom.
    • At the start of Volume 5, Lisa (already out of sorts from being on her period) outdoes Ally in a big way when her brother Jimmy suggests inviting Ally (who she is very, very pissed at following the end of Volume 4) over to their parents' place. The glare she gives him could "curdle milk" according to him. May also double as a Stealth Pun referencing a European myth that a menstruating woman's gaze could do exactly that.
  • Description Cut: While talking to a friend Lisa is gushing about Ally's virtues, as we see her gaming at home while she acts the opposite from them all.
  • Determinator: Anne, when it comes to seeing Alan crossdress. She eventually succeeds, but the audience doesn't see the result. And again, we never see the successful result.
  • Dissimile: "There we were... our own little slice of heaven. Y'know... if heaven was very dusty... and I guess... not so little."
  • Dominatrix: Ally is one, of course, and her BDSM relationship with her sub Lisa is the whole point of the series.
  • Dreadful Musician: The lead singer of Dark Bysmuth, who features in the final scene at Crimson.
  • Dude Looks Like a Lady:
    • Alan has been hinted at this. At least two characters have attempted to get him to crossdress. Both have failed, epically in Anne's case.
    • James is a more straightforward example, being a crossdressing sub who Marion ends up with.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: The comic used to be a collection of pin-up images consisting of Ally dominating Lisa and Anne. Many of these featured descriptions of Ally enslaving them and subjecting them to unsafe punishments, as might be expected of a pure fantasy scenario. Since deciding to write Sunstone as a serious story, the author removed most of the problematic strips...for them to later reappear as fantasy sequences of main characters.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: The name of the MMORPG Ally plays, Moonstone Gate, is first revealed in a Blood Stain milestone image.
  • Embarrassing Nickname: Lisa is yet to enjoy any of her older brother Mike's names for her. The ones we hear are Betty, short for Elizabeth, which is not Lisa's name, and Lassie in reference to her BDSM collar (which, if it wasn't for Mike's ignorance to the collar's significance would be downright offensive).
  • Epic Fail: Anne's early attempts to get Alan to cross dress. The pages even end with the word "fail."
  • Everyone Can See It: As the meet with Anne for Lisa's tattoo approaches, everyone is picking up on Ally and Lisa's growing attraction and feelings for each other, no matter how hard the two insist that they are Just Friends. It comes to a head at the end of Volume 4, with much going to hell for everyone involved.
  • Executive Ball Clicker: In one of Lisa's In-Universe stories, executive domme Allison has one of these. Interestingly, in this model, the balls are on hooks that can be detached. She utilizes these in an impromptu scene with Sarah.
  • Experimented in College: In different respects. Lisa and Anne both mention having had same-sex experiences (though to far different degrees; Lisa's was a drunken kiss, while Anne was in a full-on lesbian relationship), while a fairly detailed sequence of strips go into how Ally and Alan met in college and experimented with types of BDSM play, gradually becoming the doms we know. Mercy greatly expands on Ally and Alan's college relationship.
  • Expository Hairstyle Change: Happens several times, both before and after the events of the story.
    • Future Lisa let her jaw-length hair grow out to her collar bones by the time of writing her memoir.
    • Teenage Ally got her hair cut and styled like the dominatrix from the first porno she saw, and keeps it that way.
    • Anne dyed her honey blonde hair black as a teenager, but has gone back to her natural color by the time of the series.
  • Face Palm: Ally does this when Cassie calls her a Vulcan. Entirely appropriate, considering it's who gives possibly the most famous face palm in existence.
  • Fan Convention: In Lisa's stories, Allison seems to be a fan of taking her subs to these for costume contests.
  • Fan Disservice: Ally on the second volume's cover. She's wearing nothing but a bra and leather pants, brandishing a coil of rope, but the effect is somewhat ruined by her glassy eyes and mascara-streaked cheeks. A milder case than most, but still unsettling.
  • Fictional Video Game: Moonstone Gate, a MMORPG that Ally frequents and where Crossovers with Blood Stain occur in.
  • Fiery Redhead: Lisa may submit to Ally when they play their games, but she has no difficulty arguing with her when they're not. One scene in Volume 5 has her demanding that Ally talk to her mother, flatly saying that if Ally doesn't do so, she will.
  • Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling: Mike and Lisa fill the former and latter roles respectively, interestingly despite the fact that Lisa is the younger one and the one leading the double life. As it turns out, Mike's marriage was on the rocks, and he was trying to do the open relationship thing as a way to try to deal with it, only to make things worse. Only talking things out steered him and his wife on the right track again.
  • Foregone Conclusion: There are several strips that show what will happen in the future including a "5 years later" reunion. Through Flash Forward we know that Lisa eventually introduces Ally openly to her family as her girlfriend, and they later get married, as do Anne and Alan. And at some point Marion reappears and renews her friendship with the group.
  • Fourth-Date Marriage: Lisa moves in with Ally after just three weeks of meeting face to face, and actually before a formal date. The narrative acknowledges how rash this was, with both Lisa's little brother and Ally's best friend Alan calling them on it. It ends up adding more stress to their situation and is a big contributing factor in their brief break-up.
  • Framing Story: The entire story is being written by five-years-in-the-future Lisa as a form of memoir, with several panels in various strips showing the future relationship.
  • Friends with Benefits: Ally and Lisa are this for all of three days before Romance Ensues.
  • Gamer Chick: Ally is very into the MMORPG Moonstone Gate and is frequently shown playing and referring to it.
  • Gayngst
    • Averted so far. For Ally and Lisa this is their first relationship with another woman. Lisa didn't consider herself to possibly be gay until the relationship developed past something physical into something romantic, but even so it obviously doesn't concern her due to the small amount of thought she has spared to the topic.
    • Lisa has a brief spat with a co-worker who she believed was an extremely judgmental type. After Lisa storms off, the readers get to see that co-worker meet with and kiss a woman who is later revealed to be her wife.
    • There is some in the comic but it mostly comes from shock that they are actually falling in love with each other; they assumed that because they were both women sex would just be no-strings-attached fun. While them both being women is part of that shock, the majority of the Angst comes from defining what their relationship is and how far they are willing to take it.
  • Gender-Blender Name: Mr. Bonkers the cat. Though it must be said that telling the sex of cats isn't a simple task, Lisa might be mistaken. It eventually turns out that the naming was a Kramer family tradition, regardless of the kitty's sex.
  • Genius Ditz: Anne reveals to Lisa that she is a math whiz during one of Ally's sessions, much to the surprise and horror of Lisa who thought that tattoo artists sucked at math.
  • Genre-Busting: In universe: in Mercy, Vol. 1, Cassie was a fan of Broadway, while Anne was a metalhead. Anne surprised Cassie by taking her to see a metal band that did covers of Broadway tunes; the lead singer at the concert sang "Defying Gravity" while dressed as Elphaba.
  • Girl on Girl Is Hot: All the men in the story seem to think so. For the readers, it's more heartwarming than anything else.
  • Green-Eyed Monster
    • Arises after Lisa decides to write a story for Anne that involves the trio in a threesome. It makes Ally think that Lisa only thinks of her as her dom/friend with benefits, and then Lisa gets a complex after a picture of Anne and Ally together gets a tremendously positive response online.
    • Further compounded when Ally believes that Lisa's wrangling for a threesome, when it's actually Lisa's way of making sure she's still included after it seems like Ally and Anne hit it off well. Lisa felt very replaceable, which led to everything going to hell at the end of Volume 4.
  • Guilt Complex: Ally is determined to blame herself for what happened to Marion. Lisa points out that Ally is fully aware she wasn't responsible, but this knowledge doesn't make her feel any better. She is still pretty shook up about the accident and as a result she's not visited the club or used her skills with rope since, although she gets over the rope aversion in time.
  • Happily Married: Ally with Lisa and Alan with Anne five years into the future of the main events of the comic which are How We Got Here. Tom and Cassie are already there.
  • Has Two Thumbs and...: Played for very sad and serious drama near the end of Volume 4 after Anne tells both Ally and Lisa to go to hell. (NSFW)
    Lisa: What has two thumbs and is a weapons-grade hypocrite? This girl!
  • Have I Mentioned I Am Heterosexual Today?: A variant. Anne's growing curiosity with BDSM goes hand in hand with her attempts to assure everyone she has no interest in it. The same applies to her constantly inconsistent portrayal of her sexuality.
  • Head-Tiltingly Kinky: Played with; the younger Lisa's reaction upon opening her brother's homework folder on their shared computer was this, however she also notes that his tastes were pretty normal, so it was probably a reaction to how much there was.
  • Heavy Sleeper: Yet another aspect of Ally that contrasts her eloquent Mistress persona. She sleeps with her mouth wide open, snores so bad it sounds "like a lumber mill", and sometimes drools.
  • Heroes Want Redheads: There are so many gingers in the cast that a casual reader could make the mistake of thinking it takes place in Dublin rather than urban New York.
  • Hidden Depths:
    • Ally at first seems like a confident and successful person, but it becomes clear that she is terribly lonely and has some regrets she can't manage to overcome.
    • Valerie first appears to be a condescending bigot, but in Volume 3 it's revealed that this was a case of Unreliable Narrator; Lisa was too caught up in her new lifestyle to see Valerie is actually concerned for her. Volume 5 adds a twist to the reveal, as we learn that Valerie is from Texas and hasn't completely lost her accent. What led Lisa to think she was being prejudiced was her saying "lesbian" unconsciously with a bit of her old twang, which sounded condescending to Lisa. Valerie doesn't have a problem with Lisa being gay, and is in fact gay (and married) herself.
  • How We Got Here: Volume 1 starts with Lisa taking off her wedding ring, revealing its inscription "Forever Mine". She threads the ring onto her necklace, cracks her knuckles, and starts writing how it all transpired.
  • I Can't Believe It's Not Heroin!: Twice the comic has shown what can happen when people let BDSM go to their heads:
    • Ally and Alan neglected their college work and turned their relationship into a competitive game of ego feeding, which ultimately led to their breakup. Ally even referred to herself as having been like an addict at the time.
    • Marion became obsessed with the game, and was so keen to convince Alan to go further with her that she lost her job and neglected to properly consider the safety issues of self-bondage, leading to a nightmarish scenario that almost cost her her hands, if not her life.
  • I Didn't Mean to Turn You On:
    • Once Anne starts exploring Lisa's erotic writings (most of which feature an Ink-Suit Actor of herself), her interactions with her new friend become understandably more complex, especially because as a self-described hobbyist Lisa is keen to bring up these topics with Anne as much as possible.
    • Later inverted when Lisa starts outright writing erotica for Anne, which gets her in trouble.
  • Idiot Ball: Keen to convince Alan to try 24/7 dominance and submission, Marion did something everyone (including herself) agreed was stupid. Unfortunately for Marion, she realized this only at the moment she slipped the knots about her wrists tight without a way to undo them.
  • I'll Be in My Bunk:
    • Alan invokes this as he helps Ally undo a bondage device Lisa and Anne manage to trap themselves in. Anne doesn't help things as she succumbs to the device she's trapped in, much to Alan's chagrin.
      Alan: Well now that's just cruel...
    • Alan has to head to the bathroom for some "alone time" when Ally and Lisa's latex wardrobe gets to be too much for him. He claims he just peed, but Ally is hesitant to believe him.
  • Improvised Clothes: Overlapping with improvised tools, but Ally does a fairly good job of turning a pair of stockings, two post-it notes and a cat's cradle into bondage gear for her first time with Anne in the first continuity. Later on, the scene was turned into a story Lisa wrote for Anne.
  • Infinite Canvas: The comic takes full advantage of sprawling downwards; panels can flow into each other and often great space is used to show characters head to toe. Sejic said the only real problem with getting the work published was the huge amount of reformatting that he had to do to fit the comic into a book.
  • Ink-Suit Actor: In-universe; Lisa's characters in her online erotic writings are clearly based on her and Ally. This causes problems when Lisa decides the logical way to introduce her new friend Anne to the ideas of the scene is to send a link to her bibliography. Love Triangle tropes ensue. It gets even worse when Lisa explicitly writes Anne into the story.
  • Inner Monologue: As the framing device shows, the story is narrated by Lisa from five years in the future, but often the narrative assumes the perspective of present day Lisa and what she's thinking in the moment. Moreover we also witness the inner thoughts of other characters; an entire segment is narrated by Anne's internal thoughts while Lisa is completely absent, and we sometimes see Alan internally wrestling over the best wisecrack to make, usually picking the wrong one. It's a Justified Trope: Lisa got numerous, numerous interviews, getting the story from everyone.
  • Instant Costume Change: Subverted. The comic touches on how difficult it is to get in and out of latex (especially when sweat is factored in). We even see Ally having to wrestle a latex stocking off of Lisa.
  • The Internet Is for Porn: Anne finds out that when you're trying to get an idea of what your best friend is doing with her husband in their alone time, Google image search with the safe-search turned off is not the best way to go about it.
  • Invulnerable Knuckles: Averted. Ally hurts her hand quite badly punching a wall, to the point of needing a cast for much of Volume 5. The injury eventually heals, but she re-aggravates it while trying to get a corset on for her climactic date with Lisa and has to wear the cast again.
  • Irony: A big part of Lisa's history is that her prior relationship (one that almost led to marriage) failed because she never flat-out said what she wanted, instead trying to get her point across through non-verbal cues and signals. In the series proper, she and Ally both fall victim to this, with each trying to wordlessly communicate how they feel about the other. Then in Volume 5 when Lisa finally has enough and decides to tell Ally how she feels no matter what, the band at Crimson is playing so loud that Ally can't hear her even when Lisa is screaming in her ear. Not wanting to waste any more time, she's left with no choice but to use crude sign language to finally tell Ally "I love you."
    Lisa: I said it a few times before...signals suck...except...when they don't. As a writer I would have loved to complete this "character arc" of ours by saying, that we abandoned signals that night and clear unambiguous spoken words triumphed. Turns out life doesn't give a crap about character arcs or book logic. So, in that moment of palpable irony, when the words couldn't be heard, signals cut through.
  • It's Not Porn, It's Art: It's also a positive representation of bondage and the relationships that can form in the BSDM culture.
  • Jade-Colored Glasses: Alan is noticeably jaded about his lifestyle and how people view it after being tormented for it in college and having had a tragic failed Dominant/submissive relationship with Marion. Turns out that's not all there is to it: Following Marion's accident, Alan spent a night at the police precinct, where he was interrogated for four hours regarding "what he had done to Marion", long before he had actually found out what she had done. They were ready to throw him in jail if Ally hadn't come to pick him up and corroborated his story., and even then the harsh treatment was enough to almost completely ruin his enjoyment of BDSM.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Lisa's internal self-loathing voice Lisux. She's very mean, but she does have a few valid points about how Lisa has handled her relationships and actually wants her relationship with Ally to succeed, because as Lisux points out, she hates Lisa, not Ally.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Alan can come across as a snarky douche but he is a true friend to Ally and wants the best for her and Lisa.
  • Jizzed in My Pants: In a non-canonical comic (implied to be one of Lisa's stories), Anne gets a geek at a convention to do this by describing the sex games she'll partake in that night with Ally and Lisa. Lisa notes later that Anne can be really evil when she wants to be.
  • Knuckle Cracking: A habit of Lisa's, and one of the few things about her that annoys the crap out of Ally. Lisa does this at the very start of the series before beginning the memoirs and again later when, to help wake herself up, she cracks her neck. Ally visibly squirms as the sight of this.
  • Lipstick Lesbian: Lisa and Ally become this and Valerie is revealed to be this.
  • Loner-Turned-Friend: Back in college Alan was so cynical towards other people's attitudes towards him and set in his Friendless Background that it took a while for him to realise Ally was actually being friendly. It was to the point that Ally had to resort to strong measures to get his attention and show him she had no reason to further the slander against him. Ever since? BFFs.
  • Love Confession: A big Happily Ever After moment. One of the things Lisa has been struggling with is the courage to simply say how she feels, because she's worried that Ally only views her as a friend (of course, the same is true in reverse of Ally, which only complicates matters further). With Lisa being a sub, she can get away with it, but it's been a major factor in her previous relationship failures and it's why she and Ally almost fall to pieces. It has to be her who says the words and she can't expect Ally to always take the lead. That's what Lisa's last story is all about.
  • Love Makes You Dumb
    • This hit Marion hard; being new to the type of relationship she was sharing with Alan caused her to discard her better judgment in favor of doing everything she could to take things further, leading to a very bad situation.
    • Ally and Lisa aren't exempt from this. It's the main reason they rush into moving with each other after just three weeks.
  • Malicious Slander: In college Alan was wrongly accused of being gay and subjected to harassment. Things escalated when his sketchbook of BDSM artwork was discovered, stolen, photocopied and then posted around the campus. Worse still, it was one of Ally's friends who kept the gossip about Alan circulating. This is one of the reasons for Alan's cynicism about mainstream society's views of his subculture.
  • The Matchmaker: Cassie's other hobby. There's not been a scene between her and Alan or Anne where she's not trying to get the two of them to meet. She's not very good at it either. Neither of them were ready for a relationship at that moment, and when, after some time, they do meet Cassie has got nothing to do with it (though she must have felt pretty smug when they got married).
  • Meet Cute: In the original timeline, Alan meets his future wife Anne while he's measuring her for Ally's "gear." The actual time they meet, it turns out they've known each other for a good while, but haven't seen each other in forever.
  • Mistaken for Gay: Alan was this in college and was tormented about it.
  • Mistaken for Junkie: Ally's neglect of her day-to-day life during her relationship with Alan caused her mother to make this mistake. Ally concedes that her mom had a point; she was acting like an addict.
  • The Missus and the Ex:
    • Downplayed. The first time that Alan, Ally, and Lisa are in a room together, it's a little awkward because Alan saw Lisa partly naked, and she and Ally left the remnants of their game in the living room. Alan defuses the situation by relating an embarrassing anecdote from his and Ally's past, leading Alan and Lisa to become friends in no time.
    • A more straight instance: When Alan's previous sub Marion first met Allison, she wrongly assumed they were trying to set up a threesome. She was...less than pleased.
    • Mercy is framed as Alan and Anne telling Lisa their story, and Alan admits he's hesitant to talk about his and Ally's prior relationship because Ally is now Lisa's wife. Lisa assures him that Ally has told her everything, she just wants to get his perspective.
    • Marion is set to appear sometime in the future, and only time will tell how this will affect Ally and Lisa or Alan and Anne.
  • Mood Whiplash: Ally spends several panels of one comic stressing out in her attempts to come up with ideas for the next session, then practically panics when the doorbell rings. She goes to the door, dressed in her domme outfit and everything...only to be confronted with the elderly Mrs. Kramer, who asks her to watch her cat for two weeks. The fact that Mrs. Kramer barely reacts to Ally's costume — while Ally herself is completely thrown off her game — makes it even better.
    Mrs. Kramer: You kids and your new-fashioned rock and roll clothes...
  • Ms. Fanservice: Ally, Lisa, and Anne. All three started out as softcore porn to help the author out of a bad case of art block — it wasn't until later that the author decided to write them as characters in an ongoing narrative. As the bonus material of the first volume notes:
    Stjepan: Hey, Linda, what do you think of this idea? I'm thinking these two characters would be the theme of the whole account. Just... y'know... pictures... maybe some simple joke strips.
    Linda: Sure, why not? You gonna make a story out of it, or
    Stjepan: Fuck no! I'm done with stories! I just wan to draw some simple stuff... nothing serious...
  • Mundane Made Awesome: Repairing Ally and Lisa's relationship starts with EPIC KNUCKLE CRACKING!
  • My Greatest Failure: For Ally, it's introducing Marion to shibari by essentially making Marion her sub during a class Harper was presenting. Marion became obsessed with shibari, which factored into the gradual crash of her and Alan's relationship and eventually culminated in the aforementioned incident that nearly cost her her hands. Ally (and everyone who knows about it) realizes that it was ultimately Marion's responsibility, but Ally's never been able to shake her guilt about getting the whole thing started.
  • Naked People Trapped Outside: Alan invokes this trope to escape a well-deserved smack across the face from Ally. No matter how pissed off she is at him, she's not about to chase him out onto the street when dressed head-to-toe in fetish wear, especially not when there's a sweet old lady present. (Amusingly enough, on the one occasion that Ally does inadvertently expose herself in bondage gear to said old lady, ol' grandma barely reacts.
  • Nerds Are Sexy: Ally and Alan are complete geeks over fighting games and BDSM. Moreover Lisa speculates that all practitioners of BDSM are in a way nerds, because (as the comic shows) the advanced stuff uses so much thought and attention to be done safely that you naturally have to be an enthusiast type.
  • Nested Story: The outermost story focuses on Lisa writing her book detailing the events of her relationship with Ally. The main meat of the story takes place some years prior and shows us these events in which characters often elaborate on their backstory through another level of flashbacks, and in a different direction when we see into the fiction written by Lisa in the fiction written by Lisa.
  • No Antagonist: Sunstone has no villain or other antagonist, with the main problems that Ally and Lisa face stemming from their own fears and failings and their inability/unwillingness to just spit it out.
  • No Periods, Period
    • Viciously averted; as Lisa is preparing to head to Ally's place to make up for five long and agonizing days away from her, her period hits at the worst possible time.
    • This pops up later when it's revealed that Lisa and Ally haven't been together long enough yet for their cycles to synchronize (something which really does happen with most lesbian couples, or even just women who are close friends). Since neither of them want to "run the red light" as Lisa puts it (have sex on their periods), they only have two weeks each month for their games.
  • Nostalgic Narrator: A now happily married Lisa fulfills this role.
  • Official Couple: Ally and Lisa.
  • Only Sane Man: Alan frequently takes this role, especially during his conversations with Ally.
  • Online Alias: Ally's and Lisa's usernames in Moonstone Gate are "allycat" and "liiiiiiiiisa", respectively.
  • Pen Name: 'Shiniez', as mentioned above. Prior to the reveal, the author enjoyed trolling the fanbase way too much over whether they were the same person, or whether Shiniez was just a friend and student of Nebezial's due to the similar art styles.
  • Platonic Life-Partners: Ally and Alan become this after their break-up.
  • Plenty of Blondes: Redheads, as lampshaded in this (SFW) strip. Also, plenty of names starting with an "A".
  • Poor Communication Kills:
    • A relationship, as a combined result of Can't Spit It Out and the Green-Eyed Monster. The catalyst for this was Ally deciding to try her hand with rope-based bondage again, to form new, happy memories involving it. Afterward, a blissed out Lisa says "Thank you <3". She meant it wholeheartedly, as she knew how big an issue that was for Ally, but Ally heard it as "Thank you for finally obliging me on this". Bonus points for showing the thought-processes of both characters during this and a later miscommunication.
    • The start of Volume 5 has a literal version of this, as the pair text for a bit days after the fight. Lisa's convinced that the delayed and brief responses are because Ally is coming up with lies to feed her, while the truth is that Ally's broken wrist is forcing her to text with her off hand, a nigh-impossible task.
  • Potty Emergency: In the first volume, Lisa's very first request to Ally when they have their first face-to-face meeting is for directions to the bathroom, since she really needs to pee. She is shown embarrassed about how awkward that felt.
  • Pride: This is what brought Ally and Alan's relationship to an end. The experience of dominating the other went to their heads and it turned into a competitive and destructive relationship when they didn't have the free time to share their desired role regularly. At the time the two of them also considered themselves superior to vanilla people; this trait is still somewhat evident in Ally when she refers to casual practitioners of BDSM as "noobs".
  • Property of Love:
    • There are aspects of this to Lisa and Ally's relationship. Lisa gets a tattoo reading "Property of Allison" and her wedding ring has the inscription "Forever Mine" on the inside. Lisa also wears her collar in public under a scarf to remind her about their first night together, and that she "was hers". Marion on the other hand was keen to enter a situation where she was submissive to Alan 24/7 and wore her collar and referred to Alan as Master at all times, which he wasn't a fan of. Ally worries that her developing feelings for Lisa, which have more than a few elements of this trope, are turning her into "the kind of dom she hates the most".
    • A (largely) non-canon panel celebrating the legalization of gay marriage in the US has this sweet exchange. note 
      Ally: So... ball-and-chained... is it all you expected it to be?
      Lisa: Hey, I'm a sub, that's kinda my thing!
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: An exchange between older, happily married Ally and Lisa at the end of Volume 3:
    Ally: You're playing with fire, Mrs. Carter.
    Lisa: I love almost everything about that sentence. Every. Single. Word.
  • Recycled IN SPACE!: It's Pride and Prejudice but with hot lesbian bondage.
  • Retcon: As Sunstone progresses, Sejic incorporates the Early-Installment Weirdness strips he drew in new ways, usually as stories written by Lisa.
  • Rewatch Bonus: The author will occasionally revisit older strips and add new material, such as adding framing story details to the 'how we got here' Chapter One, and expand previous 'pin-up' teaser pictures into full strips giving context to the original art.
  • Right-Hand Cat: While cat-sitting the troublesome Mr. Bonkers, Ally tries to get some use out of her and invoke this image to enhance her powerful and seductive presence. Of course Mr. Bonkers reacts to this by almost instantly bounding off in search of something interesting.
  • Rouge Angles of Satin: The dialogue is riddled with typos, which the author has lampshaded; somewhat justified with English not being his first language. The print comics are (mostly) properly edited (there are almost always typos in any kind of printed work, no matter how many people go over the copy).
  • Running Gag:
    • Cassie's inability to tie knots. It's so bad that Tom claims "it's like she has no thumbs", and during one of their sessions, he's able to get out of her ropes simply by reaching for his phone.
    • Future Ally interrupting Future Lisa as she's writing her memoir.
    • Pretty much everyone's delighted reaction to hearing Ally's dorky laugh for the first time.
  • Safe, Sane, and Consensual
    • Several strips show the work that Allison and Alan go through to make sure their girls are safe, both physically and mentally. Early-Installment Weirdness made it seem less sane and consensual, though this is not uncommon for BDSM media in general where you often only see a session 'in the moment' without the careful setup and clear prior consent.
    • The lack of safety and sanity is what made Alan break off his relationship with Marion. She wanted to go to far greater lengths than he was comfortable with leading her, which led to a bad situation for her and him.
  • Safe Word: The name of the comic comes from Ally's safeword, "Sunstone", which she intended to give anyone she dommed (but ends up only ever being used by Lisa). After the story of Lisa and Ally is complete, future installments will be "Mercy" (Alan's safeword for Anne, though he also uses a three-note hum that can be used through a gag) and "Jasper" (Marion's safeword for James).
  • Same Face, Different Name: Sejic intentionally started the account Shiniez to see how far he could get starting from anonymity by drawing sensual material. When his drawings caught on, he added the storyline the comic is known for.
  • Second Love: Ally is this to Lisa; her relationship with her ex-boyfriend ended due to Lisa never getting the confidence to explain her intimate interests to him despite them discussing engagement before it turned sour. This causes her moments of doubt early into her relationship with Ally.
  • Sexy Coat Flashing
    • On her second night with Ally, Lisa shows up wearing nothing but heels and lingerie under her coat, something she didn't really have the guts to do on the first night.
    • This is also how Ally first revealed to Alan that she was just as interested in BDSM as he was, only she wore a handmade bondage outfit made of ropes underneath her regular attire rather than going au naturel.
    • A teaser future image (NSFW) shows Ally and Lisa doing a coat flash, noticed by Marion.
  • Shared Universe: As the creators of Sunstone and Blood Stain, Stjepan and Linda Sejic, are married, not only does each artist draw each other's characters, but both webcomics are set in the same world. The events of each comic are isolated from each other most of the time, except for when the four main characters meet in an in-universe MMORPG, and several non-canon illustrations. As Linda confirms in this strip both comics will get a real crossover event in the future.
    • Sunstone and Blood Stain also share a universe with Swing by DA's calysto-lynn through the same MMORPG.
    • The authors have confirmed on Twitter that Sunstone and Blood Stain also share a universe with Stjepan's Fine Print and The Queen and the Woodborn and Linda's Punderworld, which they collectively refer to as the "PerVerse". Cameos have already started to appear, such as Fine Print's main character visiting the BDSM club Crimson with Sunstone characters appearing in the background.
  • She Is Not My Girlfriend: She is just the woman I live with, have lots of kinky sex with, and spend most of my time with. Heavy doses of denial makes this possible for the main characters to believe, but their friends? Not so much.
  • Shout-Out: Quite common due to Ally being a geek:
    • One strip has Allison, Lisa, and Anne dressed as characters from World of Warcraft.
    • Another has Lisa dressed as Spider-Man so Allison can kiss her upside down.
    • Another has Allison dressed as Wonder Woman, roping Anne — dressed as Supergirl — and Lisa — dressed as Batgirl.
    • At one point Allison is teased because her haircut makes her look like a Vulcan.
    • Lisa seems to be an enthusiastic fan of Sejic's other personal project, the fantasy comic Ravine.
    • Meanwhile, Ally seems to have taken an interest in Sejic's newest project, Death Vigil.
    • A cat named "Mr. Bonkers".
  • Shower of Love: After their very first BDSM session, Lisa and Ally take a shower together to clean off. They end up getting it on there as well.
  • Significant Green-Eyed Redhead: Lisa. In fact, there are no shortage of redheads in the strip, with Lisa pointing out to Ally at the bottom of one strip that the brunettes were outnumbered four-to-one.
    Lisa: The Red Legion!
  • Slasher Smile: Ally, when she gets into full-blown domme mode.
  • Slice of Life: Despite how weird some elements might seem to people not into the BDSM scene, everything in it is entirely possible, the relationship bits especially so.
  • Snark-to-Snark Combat: Cassie has this with Chris and Ally.
  • Speech Bubbles: In addition to the fairly standard ovals, wobbly outlines for sick/drunk character and literally dripping with sarcasm variants the comic also uses more elaborate bubbles. For instance, if someone is being The Gadfly their victim's anger will be shown by their speech bubble looking like a skull, or in one case Flipping the Bird.
  • Speech-Bubble Censoring: Thanks to this the comic remains remarkably tasteful despite its topic and status as mature.
  • Stepford Smiler: Ally has aspects of this; she keeps her anxieties to herself to remain strong and at times forces smiles. Part of the story of the comic is Lisa gaining Ally's trust so that she can get to the 'human under the mask.'
  • Stupid Sexy Friend: Anne reading Lisa's bibliography of self-starring kinky erotica served as a good way to explore her attraction towards BDSM, but also, to Anne's annoyance, a good way to explore an attraction towards Lisa.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome
    • After having some fun with Lisa by using a harness holding a vibrator, Ally comments that she has a newfound respect for guys as her "non-existent abs" will hurt like hell the next day. This is also quickly followed up by Lisa's frenulum (the connective tissue under your tongue) going numb from an extended session of cunnilingus.
    • Another case had Alan having to come over and fix broken locks on bondage gear.
    • After a very sexually and emotionally charged scene involving sensory deprivation, Ally touches Lisa as she tries to get up the nerve to confess how she feels about her...and ends up nearly giving Lisa a heart attack due to the shock of being brought out of sensory deprivation.
    • A few minicomics show the problems with working with latex. Namely, that without talcum powder or some other means to lubricate it, it is incredibly difficult to get on, and that latex has to be shined in order to produce that sexy sheen — and that you don't want to get that shine stuff on a laminated floor or it will turn into something similar to an ice rink. Sejic plans to address latex allergies in fetish culture in future volumes.
    • It's not a good idea to try to force a corset on with an only recently-healed hand.
    • One installment shows a brief sequence in which Lisa and Ally's sessions get derailed in various ways, including Lisa being hit with the need to use the bathroom.
  • Tan Lines: As embarrassing as possible; Lisa visits the beach only to notice everyone is staring at her. She discovers that she has tan lines from her previous rope suspension session with Ally, including lines left from a gag. Poor girl.
  • Tattoo as Character Type: As one of the main characters is a tattoo artist there are a few examples of this.
    • Lisa gets a tattoo of a winged heart containing the words "Property of Allison" on her posterior, its design and intimate location displaying her relationship to her mistress.
    • Cassie, despite being a lawyer, gets an overly elaborate BDSM tattoo that will cover her back. She points out just like the trope says although it covers a large portion of skin only people she will want to see it will as she is fully dressed in court.
    • Anne, as said tattoo artist, has a tattoo of a dragon spanning her back. This shows that Anne, like Cassie, is adventurous.
  • Test Kiss: At the end of their first weekend together Lisa, confused about what she was already feeling, initiates this to see if there might be something more to her and Ally's relationship than just the dominance and submission. Turns out there is.
  • That's What She Said: Lisa tries to make this kind of joke to Ally at one point during the last volume. It falls completely flat.
  • Their First Time: This plays out when Ally and Lisa finally meet. They have both had sex before, but never with another woman, and more importantly it's their first "real" BDSM session (Ally considers her relationship with Alan to have been "practice" dominating since he wasn't a true sub, and Lisa had never been subbed before at all), and naturally both women are quite nervous about it.
  • Think Unsexy Thoughts: Alan has to do this while helping to rescue Lisa and Anne from a bondage device they've gotten stuck in. The girls' reactions to this device are not making things any easier for him.
    Alan: (internally), dead pets...politics...
  • Three-Way Sex: Between Ally, Anne and Lisa in the original, random comics which would later be retconned into Lisa's web-stories. In the actual story, a mutual misunderstanding with Ally and Lisa both thinking the other wants this leads to their break-up.
  • Too Kinky to Torture: Actually averted — while it is a comic about BDSM, great stress is put on how it's more about trust and limits than about hurting each other. Though it is mentioned that there is a small but visible minority that are this. Lisa is a moderate masochist — in other words "Hot sauce, yes; ghost peppers, FUCK NO!"
  • Too Many Belts: From the outfits to the devices themselves, there are a lot of belts and buckles.
  • Trolling Creator: Lisa, completely in universe. Twice.
    • First time was to get a rise out of Ally by embellishing the torture she put Lisa through. It worked like a charm.
    • Second was also to get a rise, but this time it was a setup to be able to ask Ally on a real date for once and tell her how she really felt.
  • True Love Is a Kink: In her memoir, Future Lisa makes a point of saying the night she and Ally finally confessed their feelings to each other was the first time they simply made love instead of having sex or doing anything BDSM-releated. They also withhold their usual bondage play in favor of regular sex on their wedding night because they "just tied the ultimate knot."
  • Unfazed Everyman: Chris to some degree, as the only recurring character in the strip so far not into BDSM, yet he hangs around with the others because his sister and her partner are, and because he makes quite a bit of money creating gear together with Alan.
  • Unreliable Narrator: Like any good writer, Lisa exercises her right to embellish; we know this thanks to the framing device allowing us to see Ally criticizing the novel so far as having moments of bullshit.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds
    • Ally and Alan, when they're not designing rigs and doing sex talks, can be very much a pair of these.
    • Cassie and Tom, a rare married version, though Cassie has this with almost everyone she knows.
  • Where Does He Get All Those Wonderful Toys?: Ally has a staggeringly impressive collection of BDSM outfits and gear, including: an entire wardrobe of custom-made outfits for both her subs and herself, including a custom-made mermaid outfit; cuffs, chains, restraints and suspension rigs; the infamous "see-saw"; a made-to-order bed just for sex; and last but certainly not least, an actual chariot (though that one, like the other really extraordinary pieces, may be put into Lisa's erotica). We are shown that Alan and Chris make a living out of making these things for people and that Ally is fairly well off (her very first consulting gig out of college paid over half a million dollars), but Sejic revealed that Ally has spent forty grand on her collection, which Lisa refers to as "a fuck-ton of gear". Lampshaded somewhat in a strip:
    Lisa: Okay I tried avoiding this question...but, yeah...How much did you spend on all this stuff?
    Ally:, quite a't ask.
  • Wholesome Crossdresser: An often-overlooked teaser hinting at a future Volume 7 shows James, a background character at Harper's club, will eventually become a crossdressing sub for Marion after her rope incident. He's only been shown or alluded to a couple of times, and it's implied he hasn't fully accepted that aspect of himself yet.
  • World of Snark: Not so much at first; but more and more magnificent snarkers have appeared and older characters have been seen holding their own against them in Snark-to-Snark Combat. ALL the many red-headed characters in the strip save for Lisa are talented snarkers.
  • Writing for the Trade: Just like his approach to writing Ravine, Sejic views his work as full-sized graphic novels allowing him to have naturalistic narratives. What makes this interesting is that as the entire work is viewable on deviantart a lot of readers are people who simply spotted the strips when browsing, leading to a lot of confusion in the comments met with suggestions to start from the beginning.
    • Mercy is being drawn as a series of single pages to make it easier to adapt to print, as opposed to Sunstone, which frequently used Infinite Canvas and unusually sized and shaped panels, which resulted in a lot of artwork having to be redrawn for the print version.
  • Yiddish as a Second Language: A minor example, but several characters use "oy" as an interjection. Since the story is set in New York, that's not very surprising.

Alternative Title(s): Shiniez