If you go to DeviantArt you might just come across an Original English Language manga called Demon Candy: Parallel, created by a seemingly mysterious individual known only as "Lord Dragon Master". While it looks a bit disturbing or perverted at first, there is more to it than first meets the eye.
DC:P is a somewhat unusual piece of work, given the subject matter. There is no foul language, no sexual intercourse, no graphic violence and very little in the way of nudity, which is odd given the fact that this series is entirely about sexual fetishism and the world of BDSM.
The cleanness is possibly part of the success of the series. It has been going for nearly four years, has had over 500 strips, and just this week reached 2 million page views on DeviantArt. Also, if you read it from start to finish, you can see the dramatic evolution of the strip. Originally it was rather jokey and the art quality OK. As you read though it, however, the stories become more dramatic and the art becomes exquisite. It fully deserves the self-proclaimed title of "96% authentic manga" (a reference to TokyoPop).
The series revolves around 18-year-old Jonathan who accidentally sells his soul to Noelle, who, it turns out, is a succubus – a female sex demon and dominatrix-in-training. Noelle takes Jonathan down to Hell and to the mansion of her mistress, Victoria, the dominatrix-like Queen of the Succubus. In order to get his soul back, Jonathan and Victoria have another deal: Jonathan must resist Victoria's fetishistic advances for a whole year. If he manages to resist, he gets his soul back. If he caves in, he has to remain in Hell forever as Victoria's slave.
Things quickly go bad. For starters, humans can’t survive in Hell so Jonathan turns into a male sex demon (an incubus). Things soon become even worse as he is subjected to fetish after fetish, not only by the two demons, but also by a fallen angel called Caley (who is a fully trained submissive and thus senior to still-training Jonathan) who joins their group.
I interviewed the creator, "Lord Dragon Master" (he does not wish to give his real name) about the history of the strip, its influences, and what the future of the project might bring.
Can you tell us a bit more about yourself and your background?
I am Canadian, have just graduated with a Master of Architecture, and am currently working full time as an apprentice architect. When I am not working or drawing, I play a few video games and spend time with my fiancée. I also have a modest collection of Transformers and old Megazords in my office. All my experience with drawing (save going to an art high school) is simply from practicing and drawing all the time. Though with full time work, I really have to make sure I find time too now!
Where did the idea for DC:P come from?
DC:P came from the idea of creating a simple story in order to gain experience drawing a comic, so that when I took on the task of drawing what I believed would be my main story, Demon Candy, it would be all the better. The original Demon Candy was created so long ago that it has changed a lot over the years. It was the story I was most excited and interested to tell, but after sketching out 50 pages or so I realized I lacked the real understanding of how to take the idea and single standalone images, and turn them into a story and comic.
The origins of DC and the inevitable DC:P started from the idea of two students, two friends, stuck in a world and trying to find an escape. It started with an incubus and a succubus trying to get out of their contract with their demon boss. From there I kept adding friends in, making it bigger and grander. When I started DC:P I wanted to use those same characters and world, but limit the drama to something simple. So I removed a key element of Demon Candy (the main villain) and created an alternate universe. But without the conflict of the villain I needed something else, so I chose to return to one of the original ideas of Demon Candy and have the protagonist trying to get his soul back from its new owner.
Why did you want to create a manga webcomic about fetishism in particular?
That is a good question! I liked the idea (and the outfits) of BDSM, and it has always been a fascination of mine. But when I started DC:P I knew so little about it (save some of the basics). In the earlier chapters I was really just having fun, and throwing some light bondage into the story, but by chapter 6 (a chapter about pet play) I really got into it, and did a lot of research about that particular fetish. From there out I started researching more and more, and tried to bring some of the unique ideas about fetishism into the story. When I started I was just getting my feet wet, but after drawing and writing DC:P, I have a much broader understanding, but I am still very much a student of BDSM. I did know that I wanted to create something that could really show the fun, and enjoyable side of BDSM and fetishism, without resorting to it just being a method of foreplay. I wanted to show characters that live the lifestyle, and one who was defiantly learning along the way like I was.
What is your view on the way fetishism is covered by both the mainstream media and lesser known areas such as anime and manga?
Fetishism is certainly something that is appearing more and more in mainstream media. Unfortunately at every turn it seems to be looked down upon or as some perverse, corrupt activity. A lot of crime dramas or investigation shows often have theme episodes, where either the villain or the victim engage in a particular fetishism. The main characters, always either find the fetish really disturbing or signs that the person was a pervert. It makes it hard for those who are really just discovering fetishism to feel good about themselves, when it is either seen as related to criminal activity or comedy. Although it is a rare case to see it in manga or anime that doesn't just feature it as part of sex, fetishism is often used as a quirk or comic relief of characters in those mediums. I unfortunately am really only speaking from both a sampling of TV shows and manga/anime that I have seen and by no means speak exclusively about all shows or books out there.
One noteworthy thing about DC:P is that it is, on the whole, clean. There’s no gory violence, no sexual intercourse, no foul language, and it was only after about 500 pages and three-and-a-half years of strips that you first depicted one of your characters nude. Why did you decide to avoid depicting anything graphic or too rude?
Can I say from lack of experience? ;) I really wanted to keep DC:P clean, as I wanted to make sure it was recognized as a certain type of BDSM story. One that didn’t need to revolve around nudity, sex, or even implied sex to get its fun little story across. It is also very light hearted, so there is no gore, or foul language to be seen in the comic, because it just isn't necessary. Though even in topless scenes, or in outfits that might reveal more than I am showing I avoid showing those details, just to stick to the standard I set when I started. I wanted to create a fun comic about BDSM that was clean. That isn't to say that things could never change, but I think a few of my readers would be just as happy that the cast keeps their clothes on. The single image I did draw (which doesn't actually appear in the story) was really just an exercise to push myself. To see if I could draw one of my characters like that, and still do it tastefully.
So far your strips and related art have covered fetishes such as bondage, pet and pony play, cross-dressing and age play. What other areas do you plan to cover and which fetishes would you consider to be off limits for DC:P?
That is a tough question. There really are fetishes I steer clear of just because it either doesn't belong in this kind of comic or is really something that I am not interested in exploring (like blood fetishism). A lot of fetishes just don’t lend themselves to fitting into their own chapter. I don't think I could write a whole chapter about foot or shoe fetishism, but that could appear as a small addition to another chapter. In future chapters I plan to look at some interesting ones, such as fire and electric fetishisms. Both I have recently encountered and was fascinated by their engagement and the tools and control involved. DC:P will also have a chapter that focuses on transformations, dollification, which I know many are looking forward to.
How protective are you of your work?
I am extremely protective of my work. Once upon a time I would have encouraged people to write fan-fiction about the characters, or draw pictures, but unfortunately in too many cases that turned DC:P into what it is not, a story about sex. Really that is what it boils down to. Too many people were taking DC:P and either drawing sex scenes, or writing stories where the BDSM was all just foreplay to intercourse. So nowadays, I merely request when asked that people refrain from writing their own versions of DC:P, as I prefer to have direct control over what these characters do and say. This is of course leaving out art thieves and general reproduction of my work, as with so many drawings I will often see them reposted elsewhere, sometimes with my website address or signature removed. People crop out my signature and wonder why I demand they remove it when they get caught. You like my work enough to view and save it. Have some respect for the artist who took hours and hours to create and share it with you.
Why did you decide to post your work on DeviantArt and not to create your own independent website?
I did have a webcomic site when I tried to create what you might call the DC:P predecessor, but there was so little traffic at all. On DeviantArt my work is hosted, it is organized; I can have a main page, users and comment, favs and spread the word. If one user looks in another's favourites folder and sees one of my pages, they are instantly linked back to my gallery and all the other works waiting for them! It is a great system. Hosting my own site would require time and money, and I still wouldn't get the return I do from DeviantArt. Don't get me wrong, I would love to have DC:P on its own unique website, with its own address, but it just isn’t worth the investment at this time.
You have so far published two printed editions of the strips yourself on Lulu. Would you welcome it if an established manga or comic printer decided to publish DC:P or do you prefer the control you currently have over the printed volumes?
Either or. The printed versions are really there for people who want a hard copy of the comic to have on their shelves. I really created them so I could put my work on my own bookshelves and it wouldn't just sit on a server somewhere. There isn't too much control I need when I self-publish. I upload the file, choose the paper, and print away. I think the best thing about an established manga or comic printer publishing DC:P would be the exposure. I think it would get out there, and more people could read it. Though it is a tough sell considering I shudder when looking at the art from a few years ago. Hopefully I will continue to improve and can shudder next year when I look at my work from today.
Do you watch or read much in the way of fetish-related anime or manga works, or other similar erotic or fan-service laden creations?
I wish I did, but I really don't have the time. I read things here or there, but really not enough. I spend a lot of my DC:P time on information websites about particular fetishes, or browsing the web for inspirations for new costume or room designs. If a particular manga or comic image catches my eye, I will usually take a look and read it though, but I hardly ever go back or follow a particular series.
What are your favourite anime and manga, and which have been the most influential on your work?
While I have favourites that have stuck around for a while, I am always on and off catching up on certain mangas now and again. I am still jumping in and out of the big three (Bleach/One Piece/Naruto) as I feel I need to see these stories end! (I have been reading them since my city got monthly Shonen Jump). Other mangas that have influenced my work range from Neon Genesis Evangelion, Magic Knight Rayearth, and more recently Black Butler. I know some of those are pretty standard, but they are really ones I look towards for influence.
What are your other non-anime influences in your work?
A little bit of everything. There are some fantastic fetish artists out there, such as Michael Manning, Benson, and of course Gord. They really push the envelope with fantasy and fetish designs in their work, whether through a pen or real life application. Outside of fetish-related artists, I really try to take advantage of everything DeviantArt offers and explore the works of thousands of users on DeviantArt. Each one of them inspires me to create new things. Especially my very vocal viewers, who are always asking questions and making me think about my own work, and what I need to tweak or adjust. While they are my biggest fans, they are also some of my biggest inspirations.
What can we expect to see from DC:P in the future and what do you plan to do after you have completed the story?
The chapter I am currently working on (Chapter 15, set in a BDSM masquerade ball) really sets the stage for the final 5 chapters of the story. While it will be its own complete tale, enough loose ends and questions are going to open up, that will slowly be answered in the final pages of DC:P. It will hopefully be an exciting starting point for the last quarter of DC:P's story!
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