Sep 6, 2015

The 40 Years of Comics Project - Day 194: Lust #9, December 1997 (Eros Comix Hentai Week Day 1)

 Let's take a break from "Age of Apocalypse," shall we? One can only take so much alterna-X-Men. We're about to jump into a particularly salacious corner of my comics collection. I'd mentioned in my post on Betty By The Hour that I have a fondness for adult comics, and over the years of collecting them, I've come across a subset that's both strange and titillating. In the late nineties, Fantagraphics published a line of erotic comics under the aegis of Eros Comix, and within that venture was the "Mangerotica" line. This week we're going to have a look at a few examples of this line. Be warned. These are pretty extreme. If you're offended by pornographic or erotic comics, I'd advise you to skip this week. I'm going to try to be as honest about these comics as I have been about all of the others I've read. Probably should include a "Too Much Information" warning. Anyway, after the break, we'll get going.

There's a certain quality about fantastic stories from East Asia that's hard to put one's finger on. I'm thinking of the surreality of something like Miyazaki's Spirited Away, or the dream-like quality of Haruki Murakami's Kafka On The Shore. It's like the world is both awake and asleep at the same time, and few people actually realize it, except perhaps the focal character of whatever story one is reading or watching. The story by Tenjiku Ronin in this comic is no exception. A young man's beautiful cousin comes to stay with his family over the course of a summer, in order to recover from a mysterious hospitalization. She flirts with him and, strangely, licks his face at one point, but he manages to keep from succumbing to his desires...mostly. He does watch her once or twice, and is rather intrigued by her improperly close relationship with a small black cat they find.

It's only a matter of time, as you can imagine, before lust overtakes the young man, but every time he has sex with the girl, she turns more and more into a black cat. And, in keeping with the atmosphere I mentioned, no one else in the family seems to think it's strange.

This is a great story. And the reason for that is that it's actually a story. There's plot and character development, there's action. It's just most of these things revolve around explicit sexual content. As with my summation of Betty By The Hour, there's a tradition of erotic tale-telling in East Asian comics that allows that just because a story involves fucking doesn't mean it can't tell an interesting story. This one reads like a strange wet dream, the kind you wake up from kind of turned on but kind of wondering what the hell your brain was trying to tell you.

The art, unlike a vast majority of North American erotica, is of a very high quality. I think this speaks again to the attitude toward this kind of literary production, and the differences between those attitudes depending on cultural context. The same level of detail and production value is lavished on a tale like this one as on any of the more popular mainstream manga that suffuse the shelves. Also, unlike much of this sort of art you're likely to find online, it's not censored, which makes for a nice change.

So that's day one. Bizarre, dream-like, cat-girl sex. Where can we possibly go from here?

If only you knew.

See you tomorrow.

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