The Spider Garden, Hydrophidian and Lumenagerie
by Michael Manning
NBM Publishing

Michael Manning is introducing us to possibly the most unique fantasy world in adult comics. His three books from NBM Publishing offer glimpses into a realm powered by endless S/m orgies and ruled by hermaphrodite clan heads and sexlords.

Manning's first book, The Spider Garden, explores the regime of the Sacred Androgyne, a hermaphrodite whose castle is run and protected by nightmarish, spidery machines.

Androgyne receives a payment from another clan leader, Lord Verio, who is honoring a mysterious debt by sending over his favorite slave. As this slave is initiated into the Sacred Androgyne's sadistic living fortress the reader is given a tour of the sexual contortions and sadistic contraptions that are available there. The lowly slave eventually earns the Sacred Androgyne's favor and becomes its castellana...assistant governess.

Our second offering, Hydrophidian, visits the Water Snake Clan to check out another twisted regime and throw out a few more plot twists and questions. Hydrophidian focuses on the two sister-rulers of an underwater tower surrounded by scores of submerged, encased slaves who float indefinitely. One of the sisters returns from a long journey with a slave stolen from the Spider Garden. The sadism is a little harsher here, but the style and mystery of the first volume remain intact.

These two books give us a world in which all the daily rules of life relate to sex and all sort of other-dimension and anthropomorphic things are possible. While his sex is graphic, seemingly fueling the power of the unique clan leaders, Michael Manning's strengths are in his thickly stylized pen strokes and his ability to tell a story mysteriously. The reader is thrown into a realm of godfather-like coitus fiends who have all sorts of vendettas and secrets. The second book will refer to events in the first, clarifying certain elements of the story, while both books refer to things never explained.

Lumenagerie is a book-length tease compiling sketches, gallery pieces, and scenes from the realm of The Spider Garden. If you're not concerned with a story, this'll give you over 50 freaky pages of submissions and leather bondage. If you're already intrigued with the story weaving itself into The Spider Garden and Hydrophidian, this provides glimpses into possible clans Aviatrix, Canus, Equine, and Noctua.

NBM Publishing, which has traditionally published foreign works in first-time English translations, presents Manning's books in its new "Amerotica" line. Hopefully, the success of Manning's works, especially the recent, quick-selling Hydrophidian, will prompt NBM to publish more American cartoonists of similar erotic standing.

ALSO! Just in time for the new year, Verotik has published a Best of Verotika trade paperback. I told you back in August to look for for it, and it's finally here. It features graphic Twilight Zone sex tales from the first nine issues of the harder and harder to find Verotika comics, and retails for $12.95.

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