Trigger warning: This article contains nsfw material (light nudity) and discussion of hentai themes such as noncon, loli, etc. If you feel this sort of thing might disturb you please don’t read it.
Erotic art in manga, commonly known as hentai, is a very difficult genre to approach. There are myriad titles that include a huge variety of fetishes, some more common than others. Still, even in such a vast market, repetitiveness is an issue. Many mangaka and publishers seem to compete on who is going to create the most extreme and/or weird story, caring little about plot, characters or anything that’d give a title depth (no pun intended). In my opinion it’s hard to find original and interesting material that doesn’t follow cliches. Like in most industries, so in this one hidden gems are usually found in the underground scene. Eldrik Aetherial is one of those special designers who love hentai and try to take their work one step forward at a time. His latest project “Fairies vs Tentacles” seems to gain more and more attention from the hentai fandom as it progresses. A light-hearted mix of craziness and naughtiness, I believe this is a comic fans of the genre should support. Eldrik Aetherial is here to further introduce you to his work, tell us his view on how it is to be a hentai artist in 2015 and much more.
Neko-chi (N): Introduce yourselves to us.
Eldrik Aethervial (EA): Hello! My name is Eldrik Aethervial, but I am also known on the internet as Bobbydando. I’m a freelancer digital artist who is specialized in fantasy and hentai (a.k.a. adult) fantasy. I worked on several little projects in the past but I am mostly known for the “Tentacle Dungeon” and my newest, biggest project so far, “Fairies vs Tentacles”. My main language is French, but I am also fluent in English, and while I use English mostly on the Internet I wish to eventually do my projects in both languages. My goal in life is to create comics, both hentai and regular, but I want to do so independently, without needs for editors or sponsors, which was hard to pull off until crowd-funding became a thing.
(N): When did you start drawing hentai and what attracted you to the genre?
(EA): I have drawn all my life, and I’ve drawn hentai as soon as sex became something interesting to me, ahahah! I became fascinated with hentai mostly because it was a hidden, foreign thing to me. I was born in 1984… so you can imagine that, as a young teen, the Internet wasn’t even close to what it is today. Finding adult magazines or videos, easy! Hentai manga, translated? Much harder. But the few I found were so much more captivating and interesting than your average Playboy, and the few European and American adult comic I was finding were not really interesting or even well drawn. When the Internet became a bigger deal, I started posting my own artworks and also began to see other’s people art and style, which helped me greatly improve over time. My fascination to hentai is that it allows you to imagine a whole new range of themes and contexts that “live” erotica can’t even come close to do. Have you seen the acting and special effects in adult movies? *ugh* In hentai, sex with a gorgeous alien lady become hot and exciting, not cheesy and laugh inducing. I love hentai because it can be everything “real porn” can’t ever hope to be.
(N): What difficulties did you face when you first started promoting yourself as a hentai artist?
(EA): Finding websites that allowed hentai, but weren’t shady or unpopular. People jockingly say that the Internet is for porn, but it’s not. Not more than the real world is, at least. It used to be “Either you are promoting adult content, or you’re not”. Websites that wanted to be respectable tended to avoid adult themed material altogether, putting hentai and porn in the same basket. As time passed, this changed slowly, but when I began to post my work publicly 10 years or so ago, it was hard. Same goes with finding hosting plan that allowed adult content without costing a fortune or relying on nasty sex ads everywhere, some of them sometime containing viruses. The rise of Internet 2.0 and the flood of blogging websites that were more flexible on their content fixed that. However there are still some barriers here and there, especially if you try to advertise your hentai art. The choices are restricted, so your best bet is still people posting your works on forums, or posting about your work on their blog.
(N): Give us a summary of your creative process (the ways you come up with a new idea, your preferred artistic equipment, etc.).
(EA): As far as stand alone, personal pictures go, I have lots of ideas every day, but most of them never make it out of my head. Sometimes it’s because I realize it’s a clone of a picture I’ve already done, just with a different character, sometimes it’s because it would take too much to time to draw (I’m always on a tight schedule), and sometimes I’m just lazy ahaha! If an idea keeps coming back into my head as I draw other things, that’s when I know I really want to draw it. Sometimes it’s inspired from scenes in mangas, or other artist’s works. But sometimes I’ve read a story, and started to think about what could have happened if the main character had taken a different path, or didn’t manage to kill that monster, and that gives me ideas for a picture. But it can also be much simpler than that. A customer will order a picture with a precise setting, and I will begin to sketch, then the customer will want a different pose or scene, and I will change it but keep the original for myself just because I like how the sketch turned out, and then turn it into a personal artwork with my own character. As far as my equipement go, I only need 2 things, my graphic tablet, and photoshop. Before I had my tablet, I had to sketch the works on paper, scan them, then draw them with the mouse on photoshop, using vector tools and other tricks to compensate for the lack of pen-like precision, but once I got my tablet I went full digital. Everything is done from start to finish on photoshop. An average picture can take me about 10 hours to finish, but I do a lot of experimentation to shorten that time more and more.
(N): Let’s start talking about your main current project, “Fairies vs Tentacles”. First of all, describe its premise and tell us how you decided to work on it.
(EA): Fairies vs Tentacles is about a race of fairy-like creatures having their peaceful life on an island disturbed by the arrival of strange otherworldly aliens that want to enslave them. The comic is centered about the war that will escalate between the two species, but the twist is that while weapons and magic are used, the main resource and weapon is sexual intercourse. The aliens, named Nihallaks, need the fairies’ magic energy to survive, and can only efficiently extract it through intercourse with them. However the fairies can also use this against them; to have intercourse with an enemy, you have to be dangerously close to it! And there’s a subspecies of fairies that is poisonous to the Nihallaks, while another is simply subjugated by them and will give themselves to the invader without a second though, betraying their peers.
The idea behind this comic is simple; I got bored of the archetype of “monsters vs damsels in distress” and wanted something new, something fresh, something that made sense. Would a girl being abused by a monster plead gently the monster to stop? Not really! She would punch, kick, claw, bite, scream, swear! In “Fairies vs Tentacles”, the girls are not helpless victims or dumb sex dolls, they have personalities and minds of their own. Some of them run, others fight, some will betray, others will rise as leaders and heroes. And the same will happen on the aliens’ camp. Some will flee the war, some will have vendettas against particular characters, some will be plotting to overthrow their leader. Just like a good action movie or a good war story is not just about the violence but about the characters caught in the chaos of it all, “Fairies vs Tentacles” has sex in it, but it’s not the sole focus of the comic.
(N): You use the word silly to describe your work, yet at the same time there are many dark and aggressive situations taking place in “Fairies vs Tentacles”. What is it that makes a manga filled with such elements “silly”?
(EA): I guess it’s a matter of perspective. Compared to a Disney movie, yeah that’s rough stuff, but compared to some mangas I’ve read it’s quite mellow. There’s humor and quirky characters, and while there are themes of slavery, violence and sexual abuse, I try to treat it lightly; there’s no gore, murder or torture, the aliens look more like weird plushies than stuff from nightmares. And while there is drama, I don’t delve into the psychological trauma of abuse or violence as it is not the focus of the comic. I use the word “silly” because I aim to have the reader get excited and cheer for the fairies, but not be shocked or disgusted when one of them gets caught. An escaped fairy will be able to walk away from her experience and even joke about it. If an alien catches a fairy, he won’t say “I’m gonna rape you until you bleed”, he’ll be more like “I hunger, bend over and spread ’em!” I want the comic to be entertaining, not depressing or horrifying, so I put an emphasis on the fact that things should be taken lightly, with the right doses of love, violence, sex, drama and humor.
(N): Another reason why I disagree with the term “silly” is the fact that, so far, “Fairies vs Tentacles” puts a lot of emphasis on the protagonists’ characters. You rarely see this kind of work in hentai manga. How important is this aspect of storytelling for you?
(EA): It’s my number one priority. I don’t plan hentai scenes and stitch them together with a lousy backstory, but I don’t do a powerful story and nudge in some hentai for the sake of fanservice. The backstory and the hentai and intertwined. The war between the fairies and the tentacle monsters revolve around sex but the characters exist outside of sexuality. For the Nihallaks, the intercourse is not out of perversion, but survival as it’s how they feed. For the fairies, since they exist in a very sexually open society without gender or social taboo, sex is just another form of entertainment like playing sports or dancing. Because both parties don’t see sex as we do in our society, it gives a totally different dynamic to the interactions. I try to keep the foreign cultural aspect of the two species in mind at all time when I work on the scenario. There is also a bigger story being the two species that I have barely scratched the surface of in the comic so far, and each of the current protagonists, both fairies and aliens, have their own backstory that I flesh out little by little as the comic progress. I want to say, for now the story is still on the prologue, the chapter zero, per say. The declaration of war. Once the dust of the initial confrontation settle, we’ll see each of the characters show their true colors and we’ll be able to follow them in this war and see them change over time, for better or worse.
(N): “Fairies vs Tentacles” also contains a special segment called “Dark Forest”. What extra does this section provide to your readers?
(EA): Since the comic is powered by Patreon, the strange creatures of “Dark Forest” are a bonus content for the higher tier patrons of the project. It’s a database of the strange, naughty creatures that inhabit what the fairies calls The Dark Forest, a massive forest that covers most of the western part of the island. The tale among fairies is that there is a weird monument at the center of the forest that corrupts and twists both fauna and flora into weird, perverted monsters. But the forest is also rumored to hold some incredible artifacts and treasures, and some of the less dangerous creatures are also beneficial to fairies, so you can always expect some hot headed, adventurous fairies to venture in those dark wood and get into crazy situations. “Dark Forest” is meant to be complementary of the comic, but not necessary to understand the comic. The protagonists of the comic will venture in the dark forest eventually, but the fairies involved in the “Dark Forest” database are just random, unlucky victims.
(N): While surfing through your tumblr and hentaifoundry accounts I noticed a wide range of fetishes and tropes that haven’t been used yet in “Fairies vs Tentacles”. Should we expect more “weird” stuff to come up as the story progresses?
(EA): Most certainly, but I will probably refrain from using anything too brutal or out of place. I will try to do a bit of everything; for example Irah and Aquei are two fairies that practice BDSM together, but the main fetish will remain tentacle hentai. I also listen to my readers and fans, so if I’m not sure about a particular fetish, I will simply ask my fans, and if the feedback is negative, I simply won’t include it, or alter it, unless it’s something I feel is really necessary for the story. There are some fetishes I am not comfortable with, like scatological content, so you can be sure it will never appear in the comic even if the fans ask for it!
(N): How has support for “Fairies vs Tentacles” been so far?
(EA): Great! People seem to love it! After the first few pages some were quick to mock the weird humor and sudden sex assault from the aliens, but after the first 20 pages the comic earned respect and enthusiasm from people who want to see what happens next, and claim to have come to see the hentai but are sticking around for the story, which is what I really wanted. As I mentioned before, the comic is Patreon powered, meaning that as more people pledge for the comic, the bigger and better it will get. I wasn’t sure anyone would be interested and I am surprised by the fanbase growing every month. So far the comic itself is in black and white as it’s all I can afford to do, and it’s initial success would’ve probably been even more impressive if I had started in color right away, but doing color comics is time consuming, and I wouldn’t be able to do it every week without my patrons’ support. I am really positive for the future, and I’m hopeful that the first milestone for the project will be met in 2015 and the comic will be in color so that all can appreciate the rainbow diversity of the fairies!
(N): In most of your works you use anthropomorphic women while males are usually represented by tentacles, monsters and other creatures. Is that an intentional result and, if so, what are the reasons you follow this approach?
(EA): The reasons are varied. On the professional, freelancer level, I need to draw what my customers pay me for. Recently I’ve been drawing a lot of miqo’te from Final Fantasy XIV because it’s what my customers pay for. Before that, it was more like the Draeneis of World of Warcraft. My gallery goes with the flow! On a personal level, I have a thing for Elves, Drows, Demons and monsters. The reason why I draw a lot of tentacle or monster-based hentai is because, at first, it was easier than drawing two humans together, ahahah, it’s silly but true, when I began to draw hentai, I had a lot of trouble drawing two human bodies together. And later on, as my creature became more complex to draw than humanoids, I realized that I was enjoying it because I could do crazy things that would be impossible with just humans, like being suspended in the air, or in the case of a translucent slime monster, being able to see the woman through the creature. On a social level, my reason is also that human on human intercourse is everywhere, so I don’t feel compelled to drawing it, I want to try and explore stranger stuff that can’t be done in regular adult medias.
(EA): A lot! At first I was interested mostly in the anime style because of the simpler anatomy and facial expressions that made emotions so easy to convey. Later on I got interest captivated by the more complex art styles of european comics, and then decided to mix both schools the best way I could, all the while learning to use photoshop properly. In the case of “Fairies vs Tentacles” the art is closer to manga because it’s quicker to draw, cuter, and easier to look at when in black and white. My commissioned works are a mix of european and anime style. Eyes are smaller, noses are bigger, proportions a bit more realistic, and a lot of time is spent on character details and features, and complete scenery, not just a character standing on a 2 color background. I love to have my character being part of the background, not just standing in front of it like it’s a cardboard cutout. I would say I reached a point of stability. I don’t wish to draw more realistic or simpler characters, at this point I just try to refine my style by trying different body and face shapes, or working with crazy, hard to draw positions and angles, I found my niche and just work hard to make it more cozy, ahahah.
(N): As a hentai artist how careful do you need to be to avoid censorship? How much “artistic freedom” is there on the modern hentai market?
(EA): It’s hard to tell because it’s a gray area. A website like deviantart will accept quite explicit artwork until somebody complains… then a simple nude can be removed if someone whines loud enough. Also, some fetishes will be frown upon by some openly hentai websites, while others will be welcome, it’s really a case by case situation, you have to go and ask. On a general, global Internet level, the touchy subject is lolicon/shotacon. People seem to automatically associate these artworks to child abuse and pedophilia, and most websites don’t want anything to do with it. Personally, I’m against censorship of any kind. While I don’t want to have things I don’t want to see forced upon me, I should be able to look at an artwork without having to wonder if I have the right to, or draw anything I want without fear of a fine or prison. This is especially worrysome when you think about Japanese hentai artists who are not allowed to post uncensored works for fear of legal actions against them, but are at the same time allowed to draw lolicon/shotacon, while in North America it’s the other way around. Artistic censorship should be abolished altogether, but having common sense should be law. A personal situation where censorship is actually bothersome to me is that in my “Fairies vs Tentacles” comic, fairies are born mature, from a cocoon. So an adult fairy can actually be only 5 years old in terms of age, but I have been recommended to not mention any age under 18 years old for fear of legal actions, even if legal age doesn’t make sense in my comic. I would meet the same kind of problem if I had a character that looked like a small girl that is actually a 500 years old forest spirit or something, if she gets naked, it would be considered lolicon and be illegal, and that is the kind of blunt, dumb censorship that grind my gears.
(N): If you weren’t doing erotic art how would you prefer to make a living?
(EA): Either by doing regular art, or videogames. I had started a college degree in videogames and infography but dropped it when I realized that working in an office was not the thing I was looking for. I went on as freelancer and started to take commissions while working a part time job, and finally went full freelance. I would like to make a hentai videogame, just because the good ones are rare, but that would be a big expensive project that I don’t think I’m ready for. I always had a thing for comics, and have a big comic project in mind, a non-hentai one. Hopefully “Fairies vs Tentacles” might help me get the funds to start it!
(N): What’s the biggest misconception people have about hentai illustrators?
(EA): It’s hard for me to talk for other artists, but I think it’s that we’re as kinky in real life as we are in our art! I’m not, I’m actually quite shy and reserved! I have never slept with several women at once or done anything wild, really. I don’t even RolePlay online!
(N): Any advice you’d like to give to people who aspire to do what you do for a living?
(EA): Hentai art, like casual art, is about persistence and practice. Work hard, never stop, learn to accept critics, and be yourself. This last bit is especially true with hentai. If you’re going to do everything covertly for fear of what your friends or family will say, you will have a hard time and be miserable. If that’s really what you want to do, well you’ll have to stand for it. That being said, coming out as an hentai artist is probably ten times easier than coming out as a sex worker… Most people will tease you about it, and that’s as far as it’ll go, hopefully!
(N): Could you name us your three biggest artistic influences?
(EA): Funny enough, there’s only one I can think of! There are a lot of artists who impress me, but I’m not trying to learn from them or to draw like them. The only artist that directly influenced my art and progress is Kazushi Hagiwara, the author of my favorite manga, “Bastard!!“. The way he draws his characters, and the amount of detail he puts in every page, especially in latter volumes when he began to use digital special effects is very fascinating to me. For my European influence, I don’t have anyone in particular I can think of, I just read a lot of different comics left and right (Morgana, Les passagers du Vent, Leonard, Asterix & Obelix, Lucky Luke, Yoko Tsuno, Bob Morane to name a few.) I never even stuck to a particular series, I just enjoy looking at the various styles, different from each other, but still in the same category, apart from japaneses or americans comics.
(N): Name a skill most people would be surprised to learn you have.
(EA): I can make a videogame from start to finish, music included! It’s just super time consuming, so I’d rather just draw, ahahah!
(N): Thank you for this great interview. Any last words you wish to share with our readers?
(EA): If you want to support a naughty comic with a different take on the interactions between sexy ladies and tentacle monsters, check out the “Fairies vs Tentacles” Patreon! I am also open for commissions if you have an artwork that you would want to see made! If you’re curious about my work in general, you can check my Tumblr or HentaiFoundry page! Watch out! It is, as you might have guessed, NSFW! Thank you all for your interest, cya around and stay awesome!
You can find Eldrik Aetherial on