This comic is meant for 18+ Mature. Please make sure you are of age to see nudity and experience adult themes.

Have any of you ever wanted to read a romance novel, but with a little more visual awesomeness? The writers Matt Hawkins and Jenni Cheung collaborated with artist Yishan Li to create Sugar Volume 1. It’s a companion book to Sunstone and Swing. We’re following the student Julia as she struggles with interpersonal and money issues.

Image Comic Page Sugar Volume 1
Image Comics, 2018

While juggling three jobs and college classes, she meets a kind, yet broken-hearted divorcee John. He offers her a unique relationship as her ‘sugar daddy,’ due to a genuine interest in Julia. Sugar Volume 1 follows their struggles of trying to make a unique connection.

Kiss, Kiss, Fall in Love! Romance is Hard to Maintain

Even though Julia and John represent the ‘fantasy’ of a good relationship, they have real problems. They struggle due to their different backgrounds. Julia represents a majority of us where balancing life is a major struggle.

Her challenge is deciding to value one goal over another priority. When she makes her decisions, those choices thread through to her romantic relationship. On the other hand, John shows a different problem where he loses his self-esteem. His wife leaves him on unsavory terms and his emotional walls are up.

Image Comic Page Sugar Volume 1
Image Comics, 2018

His friends, family, and even his lawyer pushes him to move on before he’s emotionally ready. It displays how people are uncomfortable with negative emotions. Tthere are a few surprising twists along the way that display the humanity of the side characters.

I liked how these two characters fit as a couple. They made plenty of mistakes, but none of them damned Julia or John into an improbable connection. As a reader, my appreciation comes from the knowledge that circumstances can tear them apart, but not their differences as people. If you enjoy positive romance stories with a respectful relationship, I suggest picking up Sugar Volume 1 for your collection.

There Isn’t Much Sugar in the Sugar Baby for Sugar Volume 1

Since Sugar Volume 1 is the title, I find it necessary to discuss the sugar daddy and sugar baby relationship. This graphic novel shows a romanticized version of this dynamic.

You shouldn’t read this graphic novel if you expect an accurate depiction of sugaring as sex work. I would go as far as to say that they show sugaring in a negative light. This title acts more like a romance story. It’s a narrative choice you should understand when you’re going into the book.

A part of me did hope there would be a bigger on the sex work beyond its use as a plot device. In that regard, Sugar Volume 1 doesn’t quite live up to the expectation of being innovative in terms of the romance genre. What is innovative is that romance used to be a popular topic for comics and I’m glad it’s getting reinvented for the new era. 

The Sex Appeal Is Very Classy Even When It’s Not

I appreciated how Yishan Li drew the sex scenes in Sugar. The eroticism comes from the genuine enjoyment seen from the main couple’s expressions. They sprinkle sex throughout the book as opposed to relying on it heavily. Even when the sex scenes don’t involve our hero and heroine, the other characters do show sex positivity.

Image Comic Page Sugar Volume 1
Image Comics, 2018

If you flip through the pages, you see subtle visual cues to represent Julia and John’s emotional changes throughout their character. A personal favorite of mine is that John goes from droopy eyes to slightly less droopy eyes as he gets more chipper. 

If I had one problem, I’d like the characters to look more fluid in motion, but that’s a smaller detail. When John, Julia, and other characters are drawn doing an action like drinking, they look more like statues than people. 

Image Comic Page Sugar Volume 1
Image Comics, 2018

This graphic novel contains an elegant art style with exact line work. I loved the coloring most of all. The slightly muted hues create a dreamy aura to the panels. 

Do You Want to Find Love? 

Sugar Volume 1 obtains a high score from me because this book creates a romance a reader can appreciate. If you enjoy slice-of-life and a romanticized world that resembles our own, but with a few in its problems and its hopes, you can enjoy this graphic novel for what it can offer.

While this story doesn’t have a lot of action-packed adventure, there’s a lot of character study. I wouldn’t want to ruin that for you when you can experience a sweet romance for yourself. 

If you’re looking for a copy of Sugar Volume 1, pre-order on Amazon and you’ll have it on September 4, 2018. You can also head towards your local comic book shop or pop over to Image Comics on August 29, 2018. 

Sugar Volume 1 by Matt Hawkins, Jenni Cheung, Yishan Li
Appealing Art DesignTwo Character I Can Actually See Getting TogetherIt Makes You Feel Good.
Inaccurate Depiction of Sex WorkNeeds Slightly More Fluid Art
92%Truly Love?
Romantic Appeal 90%