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|Author(s)|| Rukis (2009-present)|
Alector Fencer (2009-2012)
Red Lantern is a four part graphic novel series created, written, and co-drawn by artist Rukis, co-drawn by Alector Fencer and Myenia at differing times. Rukis began writing the series in 2009, with the first page becoming available to the public in 2010. Red Lantern's characters are exclusively anthropomorphic, with mythical creatures such as dragons taking significant roles. Red Lantern is available in almost its entirety online at its website, with select pages withheld to encourage the sales of the hardcopy. In the first volume, Rukis was mostly sketching and coloring the characters while Alector Fencer was colouring the backgrounds in the volume 1; however, Myenia replaced Fencer in the volume 2, with both her and Rukis contributing equally to all parts.
Drawing a loose inspiration from history, Red Lantern stands out amongst anthropomorphic fiction, with the anthropomorphism representing nationality, personality, and culture and lending to flesh out the world of Red Lantern. Rukis herself describes the comic as as an "adult" comic not only for its few sex scenes (only on the printed edition), but also for its dark tone (the comic also deals with prostitution or natality). Moral ambiguity is introduced in most characters, undermining the assumptions the reader makes early in the story of good and evil, and creates very relatable, very human characters.
The first printed volume, entitled Volume 1: The Crimson Divine was published in March 2012 through Sofawolf Publications and made by Rukis and Fencer. Volume 2: Conviction, which debuted online in 2012, is projected to be published in June 2013, again through Sofawolf Publications, with Myena replacing Fencer and the collaborating style significantly altered so that both contribute equally to all parts, and each page is passed between the artists four times before completion. Rukis and Myenia are slotted as the illustrators for the remaining Volume 3 and 4.
The story of Red Lantern takes place on the fictional islands of the Shanivaar, a set of islands mimicking colonial India ruled by hyena clans but overseen by Amurescan laws. The series follows several storylines that intertwine and occassionally merge; one of the hardships of an aging slave in the Shanivaar sex trade, his replacement and fellow slaves, one of an Amurescan Admiral and his compromised fleet, one of a furious and wrathful foreign leader seeking vengeance for a horrible misdeed, and one of the political family of the second largest clan on the island.
Red Lantern takes place on the Shanivaar islands, where the local culture and politics of a society ruled by hyena clans lives under the laws of the Amurescan colonists. Prior to the events of Red Lantern, the Amurescans have begun to colonize the Dark Continent, home to a foreign culture of draconic natives, causing tension and war.
The Crimson Divine
Amon, who is aging and costing the Crimson Divine more than he earns, is tasked with training Dhaval, his replacement, who has been brought into his room still drugged. Dhaval begins to learn how to perform his non-sexual services such as serving drinks, finding out that his first night will be sold in an auction later in the week. Dhaval comes from a very isolated country life and does not understand the significance of these events, but fails to admit this to Amon.
Meanwhile, Luther and the Amurescan fleet are coming in with severe damage toward the island, while fighting off a Cathazra force of flying drakes. Luther finds his way to the Crimson Divine after arriving in port and meets Amon for a partial service. With the fleet in port, the Crimson Divine is filled by evening, and Isolde and Amon perform a dance to entertain the fleet, and Dhaval is captivated by Isolde's beauty. Amon stops the dance early because of back pain, and Isolde berates him about the injury caused by a client, as well as his use of the Crimson Divine's namesake drug. She then threatens the onlooking Dhaval for desiring her. Manjusha is visited by her mother Rajne, who demands that Coros, who injured Amon, be allowed to bid on Dhaval's first night. Manjusha resists because she does not want to lose her new investment before making money off of him, but ultimately loses the argument.
The next morning, a few Carvecian soldiers hire Amon for service When Dhaval searches for him for help with a customer's drinks, he walks in on Isolde nude performing oral sex on a client, and then on Amon with two clients. Dhaval, who previously did not understand what a brothel was, is terrified and escapes over the garden wall, with Amon persuing him. When they dead end at the sea, Amon explains that the island is small and isolated, that servant collars are checked at all the docks, and the only way out is to earn his freedom. Amon and Dhaval find themselves walking through a rival clan's part of town after dark to get home, and are stopped by two striped hyenas. Dhaval runs to the docks, where he gets help from Luther and his companions. They return after Amon has been raped and his cheek cut, but save him from further harm. Amon accidentally reveals that he knows Luther, but covers it by telling his companions that a female servant from the Crimson Divine had talked about him.
The next day at Dhaval's auction, Amon, who is in attendance, bids his own savings to prevent Coros from winning Dhaval's first night. Amon wins the auction, much to Manjusha's thanks and Coros' frustration, but Manjusha tells him that his money is truly spent and he must take his prize. Amon realizes that he can no longer protect Dhaval from his fate. Dhaval is elated when he returns to the Crimson Divine, but Amon quickly stops him and explains that he can now be bought at any time and that he must teach him how to work. Dhaval is horrified and Amon explains that it is the only kind of servitude in which he has a chance of earning his freedom, and since Amon cannot protect him from this life, he can at least prepare him. After, Amon is scolded by Isolde for throwing away his savings and his chance at life, implying it has happened once before, and Esha assures Amon that he did the right thing. Luther arrives to thank Amon for lying for him.
Hatred between the Cathazra faction and the Amurescan navy continues to rise, and the factions of the Dark Continent starts looking for ways to appease their gods and push the war towards their favor. Sacrificing lives are chosen for this end, and the closest means to commence this insidious ritual is Shanivaar. The hyena clans have no issues selling some of their less valued 'indentured servants' towards this evil cause, so long as they are not implicated in the illegal murderous activity. On the other side of the island, Luther begins drafting plans for an assault against the supposedly resting Cathazra faction amongst the other Amurescan royal officers as well as Carvecian mercenary captain Grayson, with Shivah, a steadfast seasoned huntress of the mercenary captain's crew joining the fray. Amon and Dhaval are oblivious to the storms blowing towards the island - however soon, the lives of these interconnected people are about to come together to brace against the adversity that lies ahead.
The Crimson Divine
- Amon, a jackal indentured servant forcibly contracted into being a male escort
- Dhaval, a young, rare white tiger sold off to the Crimson Divine
- Isolde, a snow leopard and previous indentured servant who continues to work at the Crimson Divine on her own terms
- Esha, a pregnant tiger indentured servant and bartender
The Immar Clan
- Rajne, a hyena and matriarch of the Immar clan, mother of Manjusha
- Manjusha, a hyena and manager of the Crimson Divine, daughter of Rajne
The Amurescan Fleet
- Admiral Luther Denholme, a cattle dog and Admiral of the Cerberus fleet
- Sir Johannes Cuthbert, a wolfhound and Luther's first officer
- Fitzer, a rat, a crewman on the Cerberus
- Admiral Grayson Reed, a Carvecian privateer
- Zakkra, a dragon and leader of the Cathazra faction hailing from the Dark Continent
In this universe
Off The Beaten Path chronicles the rough adventures of Shivah, Ransom and Puquanah, each facing their own problems or inner demons. Two years before the events of Red Lantern, the world starts to show slow signs of change.
Heretic tells the story of the early days of Luther Denholme, a rising member of the navy charged with heresy for loving another man. Nine years before the events of Red Lantern, the war in the Dark Continent begins to impact the rest of the world.
Legacy details the life of Kadar, Amon's father who unknowingly entered the life of contracted servitude in attempting to do what he believes is right. Twenty years before the events of Red Lantern, the harsh life of a laborer which ultimately sets the beginning of Amon's life is told.
The novels are also available in printed editions at Furplanet.
Whiteout shows how Puquanah and Ransom first met, prior to the events of Off The Beaten Path.
The printed versions of Red Lantern are also available, containing sexual scenes and pages omitted from the online releases.