For the past few weeks I have been posting about various works I recommend (should really get around to recommending some games, but that is for latter). These Recommendations have had a lose theme based on medium. Today the “theme” is a specific artist/author: Stjepan Šejić (and no. I will not attempt to help you figure out how to pronounce that).
So first off I will go into a small bit of personal history: How I found this artist. Years ago I was browsing Deviant Art, and I found a creator that had some cool things. This was Stjepan’s main account and included a bunch of the work he did for some major comic publishers (such as some Witchblade covers and panels, funny non-cannon things he did with various DC characters, and Harlee Quin concept art he would later pitch and have made into a graphic novel). I really liked all this art, but it is not where I became entranced with his work. Following a few of the pages favorited pieces I found another creator, Shiniez, and a silly strip they were making (more on that latter). I was hooked. Not just because of the content (Not going to lie, it was hot) but because of the characters and the ways they interacted. And that highlights a piece of what makes Stjepan such an amazing story teller: you show up for the plot (or “plot” as the case may sometimes be), but you stay for, nay get hooked on, the characters. As you may have put together the Shiniez account was also owned by Stjepan, but he tried to hide this. I had my suspicions for a while (the art style was just too similar to be a case of similar or copied style) but one day he reveled this truth and I began following his work. These are some of those works I recommend.
Welcome to the Death Vigil. Our job is to stop the eldritch abominations from the other side of the veil from crossing over into our world and turning it into a buffet. Every member of the Vigil has three things in common. Firstly, they all died. But, secondly, they all got the attention of a being known as Bernadette, affectionately called Bernie, also known as The Reaper, complete with giant scythe. She gave these people a chance to be reborn and help defend the world. To help accomplish this each member of the vigil gets a Veilripper, a powerful artifact and one of the only things capable of actually harming the beings from beyond the veil. But on the other side from the vigil are the Necromancers. Poor fools that have lost, and have been promised by those from beyond the veil that their power can bring those the necromancer lost back…
Lots of action, lots of found family themes, and more than a few winding plots intersecting. The first few chapters can be found on Stjepan’s deviant art page, and he is in the process of making the next volume. For more on that, see his Patreon page for updates and early releases of all his independent work.
The Queen and the Woodborn
To be fair, I have not read as much of this story as the others. But it is just as beautiful as the others and has a great set up so…
In this world of medieval fantasy, a Queen recently lost her son and travels into the woods in her grief. These woods are ancient, magical, and forbidden for any that trespass belong to the Woodborn. But the Queen does not care, here lies some faint chance of seeing her dead son. And she thinks she has found it, until the Woodborn shows up and saves the queen from the being that had tricked her and tried to devour her. But now that she is in the woods she is bound in service to the Woodborn, and they come to an agreement: the queen will server the Woodborn until her dyeing breath. At which point it is revealed that the Queen was already dyeing and promptly breaths her dyeing breath. But that is not the end of our story, for death is not an end here, but just the beginning of our tale of mythical beings, gods, and the queen who stumbled into it all.
Anyone familiar with Stjepan’s work was waiting for me to bring this one up. And I don’t think there is a better way to introduce this work that the words of one of the main characters at the start of the story:
“Dear reader, this is the story of how I met the love of my life. That one person that compl–
WAIT! DON’T LEAVE YET! THIS BOOK HAS LOTS OF HOT LESBIAN BONDAGE SEX!
Good. That got your attention…
You bunch of pervs…
But that’s alright. You see, I’mma let you in on a little secret…
We are all a bit pervy in our own ways…”
So yeah, this is a love story played out between a pair of women who are into BDSM as a submissive and dominant respectively and the various people around them. Don’t get this confused with 50 Shades of Abuse or any other sadist porn. A very large point is made in the story about needing trust, cooperation, and consent between all parties so that everyone can get what they are looking for… and more or less paints the BDSM community as a bunch of sexual geeks that put more effort into the act and like things a bit spicier than “normal”. This is a story about pleasure, love, trauma, jealousy, miscommunication, and drop dead gorgeous art. And yes, to address the elephant in the room, there are sex scenes in this story. There is full frontal nudity in this story. And every time it happened I was either too enraptured by the character’s inner monologues or too impatient to get back to the story to care.
And yes. This is the story I found on Stjepan’s alt account that got me hooked… or at least… it kind of is. You see how this story came about is a fun story in and of itself. Told in comic form at the end of the physical copy of volume 1. Stjepan was suffering from burnout. To help combat this he created an alt account to post some silly one-shot style work, and chose the theme of the account to be: fetishistic erotic imagery. Just some random pin ups so he could get the creative juices going again, nothing serious, and obviously nothing with a storyline too it… as you can imagine that idea spiraled down the drain as the creativity spiraled out of control. Pretty soon he had characters, he had relationships, the characters were getting arcs, and he had a story that needed to be told. But all he had were loosely connected pinups and a few small comic pages. So he re-wrote it to be the story it is today.
Other works of Stjepan’s to look out for:
Achilles Shieldmaidens: Women in giant mechs fighting as part of a final resistance against aliens in giant mechs. Still in production, but from what I have seen so far I am HYPE for it to see the light of day.
Fine Print: Think Sunstone had too little sex and demons? Well half the main cast of this story are succubi/incubi. And somehow it is just as character driven as Sunstone.
Harleen: Stjepan’s take on the origin story of Harley Quinn. Amazing art (as always) and a fresh take on the story. Unlikely to get a follow up as Stjepan’s independent work is making him more than his contracted work did.