Michael Manning

in a metal web

Michael Manning is a fetish artist based in Los Angeles. NBM has published several collections of his work, including ‘Cathexis’ and ‘Lumenagerie,’ and a series of graphic novels, ‘The Spider Garden’ series. Born in Queens, New York, and raised on Massachusetts’ North Shore, Manning began self-publishing his black & white erotic comix in 1987 while working as an animator and director of short films, commercials, and music videos.

Early exposure to Japanese animation, fairy-tale book illustration, American and European comix, and mythology of many cultures has contributed to the formation of Manning’s style. Manning’s work draws heavily on Japanese influences, being somewhat stylized and almost exclusively black-and-white. His themes are notable, even amongst fetish artists, for depicting potentially taboo subjects such as zoophilia. Many of his images include beings that are mythological (such as centaurs) or at least biologically uncommon, such as hermaphrodites.

This strand of his work is best developed in the Spider Garden series, which is set in a futuristic, matriarchal world of warring clans, ruled by the ‘Scarlet Empress.’ The action centers on the eponymous Spider Garden, a palace-fortress ruled by the ‘Sacred Androgyne’ Shaalis, who has male and female genitals. Shaalis is referred to by the pronouns ‘hir’ and ‘s/he’ (pronounced as ‘her’ and ‘she’ respectively) to denote hir polysexual status.

The story follows the political intrigues between Shaalis and the two ‘Sisters Serpentine,’ Squamata and Lichurna, amphibian humans who command a rival clan based in the Manse Hydrophidian. Also appearing in the story are the Tengu, a race of semi-human creatures roughly resembling bipedal horses. These creatures appear to be inspired by, but not identical to, the Tengu of Japanese legend.

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