An Interview with the Creators of Ranmabooks
By Kasaix • 2 months ago • 6 comments


Kasaix: Friends and foes of Doujins, allow me to introduce you to the brilliant minds behind Ranmabooks, Justice Hentai, and Enchanted Hentai. If you’ve spent much time surfing for hentai, you’ve come across Ranmabooks. They have their own Ranma universe going on, and it’s awesome. I was thrilled to be able to chat with the people responsible for top tier Ranma hentai. Of course their Justice Hentai and Enchanted Hentai stuff is great too, but I first came across their work years back through their Ranma art. That, my friends, is damn near 1:1 with the official anime’s own style, given some changes to make it hentai. Also, they’re huge fans of Doujins.com, so that makes them 100% cooler.


But I digress, thank you so much for hanging out guys. How are you doing?



SHADE: Hi de ho. ^_^


Muffdiver884: I’m doing alright, happy to be doing my first interview.

I also want to say Deep Star, SHADE’s partner in crime and Co-owner of the Drawn To Hentai Circle (Ranmabooks, Justice Hentai, Enchanted Hentai) isn’t available, but I’ll do what I can to fill in for him.



Kasaix: According to your social media arm, you guys have been in business since the early 2000s. What first got you guys into art? Do you have professional educations in art, or are you all self-taught?




SHADE: When speaking of beginnings, that question must fall to me. It’s a bit of a long story, so buckle in.


The initial anime invasion of the early 90s arrived when I was in my late teens. Early favorites included, Tenchi-muyo, Slayers, but I absolutely fell in love with Ranma 1/2. I was so eager for more that I couldn't stand the glacial pace Viz was translating and releasing it.


So in 1999, I took on a massive translation project. While I can't read Japanese, I found a wealth of scripts online, and a complete set of import manga at a local comic store. The idea was to marry up the scripts and scans of the manga. A daunting task, as at that point there were 4,000 pages yet to do.


After doing graphical translations on a handful of chapters, I took what I had onto anime-based newsgroup boards and made a call to the community for help. Got quite a lot, ultimately getting 25 helpers and dividing up the work between us. We zoomed through the manga, completing 235 chapters in just 9 months. Chances are if you ever looked up the Ranma 1/2 manga online, you read my team's work.


So as we entered the year 2000, the translation project was complete. Working day in and day out on thousands of manga pages had taught me quite a lot about digital art programs. A year of intense trial and error and self-education. I had a whole new set of skills I hadn’t possessed previously, and the only project I had in mind for it was complete. I still couldn’t read japanese, so I couldn’t apply those skills to any other translations, I was dependent on scripts.


And that brings us to… *drumroll*... HENTAI.


Being then at my peek of fanboy obsession with Ranma, naturally I was also looking for Ranma Hentai on the net. At that time I can say I was bitterly disappointed by what I found. The art quality was generally atrocious, but even more damning was the pathetic state of the WRITING. The characterization and scenarios were just utterly generic sex-for-sex’s sake, with no feeling or passion for the characters or their world.


Before becoming a hentai artist I had wanted to be a fantasy and science fiction novelist. I wrote two books, part of a third, tried for many years to make that career work. But it was the days before viable self-publishing and I got no interest whatsoever from publishers. By 2000 the spark was going out in me for it, but I still had training and experience writing, and a new suite of art skills I’d developed on the translation project.


So, since I had new skills, loved Ranma, the Ranma hentai available than was mostly awful, I started trying to make my own.


Not having any natural skill or training whatsoever in original art WAS something of a handicap though.


But I understood the tools of the digital art programs from my time doing translations, so I just figured out my own ways to make entirely original art. It was a dreadfully slow process at first, and the early results were… well let’s be generous and call them steaming piles of dogshit. However I kept at it, teaching myself new techniques and slowly improving.


Concurrently with my self-education in original art, I began a new group project. I thought I could make an original comic in the same volunteer group method that had been so effective with the translation project. Tried that for a long time with very limited success. Over the following 2 ½ years we managed to complete only one modest comic, and past that years more dragged on trying to get a part 2 done. The volunteer method was not working for original art, it’s just too difficult and time consuming. It’s on a whole other tier from translation work, needed professionals dedicated to the work to make it viable.


During this training period as I think of it to myself, which spanned from 2000 to the end of 2005, what work I did manage to get done, and the first small comic we managed to cobble together, was shared and sold through a site called The Ranma Hentai Gallery, which originally was run by a great guy by the name of Stang. I was a big supporter of his, sharing the work I made as I trained and improved, and he shared it with the wider Ranma hentai loving community.


However in early 2002, Stang just vanished. The site stopped being updated and sadly I never heard from him again from that day till now. I had a choice, I was the only other person with the access codes to update the RHG website. I did not however have any experience whatsoever in site coding or maintenance. But it was that or let the dream die, so I dug into it, tried to figure out how to update it and fix things. I never got particularly good at the website stuff, but I learned enough to keep it updated and adding new content as I finished new art.


The Ranma Hentai Gallery was the ancestor of what is now Ranmabooks.com. When we finally morphed from fan production to actual professional creators of original hentai comics, we wanted to have our own domain fully under our control, so we migrated to Ranmabooks.com.


----


All that brings us to a crucial breakpoint in the evolution of the work. The arrival of Deep Star.


By the end of 2005 I was running out of money, I wasn’t making much headway turning my love of Ranma art into a viable business. I just didn’t have that skillset. I can write, I can make art after a fashion, but I have no business experience.


To all our great good fortune in February of 2006, Deep Star entered the scene. Himself a passionate fan of Ranma and had been following my early work for some years. A talented writer and editor in his own right. He doesn’t have much in the way of art skills, but what he has that I most definitely do not was full experience in running a business. Also a lot better at website maintenance. Our skills complement each other quite perfectly. Together we had everything needed to make the jump from fan hobby to professional business.


While I’d barely gotten 2 comics done in the previous 5 years, once Deep Star joined the team within months we had a proper storefront, updated website, made proper business contracts with the artists we’d worked with up to that point, found more and new artists. We went from a couple comics over the span of 5 years, to a new comic made every couple months. It was a dream opportunity to be an actual professional full time artist. All I had to do was work 50 times harder than I ever had before, and you damn well better believe I was all in on that.


From 2006 to 2009 we focused entirely on original comics and putting them out in a books-for-sale format. There were some technical limitations to this format, in that it made more business sense for the books to be short. More pages cost more money, forcing a book to sell more to just break even. But short books were too unsatisfying to us, we have grand visions of epic stories that really elevate the often lackluster narrative of hentai into a realm of compelling adult entertainment.


I feel a lot of us have gotten complacent when it comes to the extremely mediocre quality of adult writing. In live action porn it makes perfect sense that you can’t pull off a compelling narrative, because the actors who are willing to make porn for the most part do so because they don’t have the acting ability to make it in normal acting. So there, even if you had a great story, the actors willing to take on those roles wouldn’t be able to deliver. But there’s no such limitation in comic books. If you’re prepared to invest in compelling storytelling, and have a talented artist to make the art shine, you can make genuine adult art that transcends the medium. Whether or not we’ve succeeded in that lofty ambition is really for the audience to decide, but we sure as hell have been trying for it.


But I digress, I’m on the story of origins of how we got from there to here. Although the story is nearly complete. In 2009 we switched to a subscription model which is now Ranmabooks.com.


This unleashed us from the shackles of books having to be artificially short in order to turn a profit. A good story has a natural length, be it long or short, the story itself guides your hand to it’s ideal structure. If a book now needed to be longer to be properly satisfying and compelling, it would just take longer to come out. It was pages-vs-time that allowed us to stay viable, so in the span of a year the same number of pages would come out, whether they were part of one immensely long super ambitious epic book, or 4 or 5 smaller more contained stories, every story could inhabit it’s natural best length without compromise.


And for the last ten years from 2009 to now, that’s where we’ve been, diligently chipping away at one grand story or another, trying always to elevate the medium. Showing, we hope, you can be both sexy AND compelling on a narrative level, without sacrificing character. I have heard many times over the years: It’s just hentai, who cares about story?


We do. We care. Always have, always will, the day we stop caring about that, is the day we quit the business.




Kasaix: What inspired you to start up Ranmabooks? I mean, besides the obvious of Ranma characters being awesome. The Ranma girls are top tier waifu material.




SHADE: Well I kind of covered this in my extremely long history of our work above. Basically it was a natural evolution of The Ranma Hentai Gallery.


And you’re quite right Ranma as a series is just RIPE with hentai potential. So many great and sexy characters, plus all kinds of gender-swap fun as well.


It’s funny for many years as we finished each of our stories, and we have a LOT of stories now I’m not even sure how many anymore I think in 13 years or so we’ve done over 50 comics, but many times we’ve gone: what is there left to do? What ideas haven’t we done?


When you’ve just finished an epic book you can feel tapped for ideas, worried that you have no more good stories to tell, but every time we felt that way soon after the next awesome epic idea occurred to us and we were off to the races again. So by now we’ve just stopped fretting, the potential in Ranma hentai seems to be entirely limitless. :D


So we started it cause I thought it was awesome, and we’re still at it cause the potential depth of hentai to be found in the Ranma ½ concept seems to have no limits. ^_^




[Muffdiver884’s History]


Muffdiver884: In high school I read all the Ranma ½ manga I could find in my school library and comic shop, and in ‘07 when I was 19 and got my first laptop, I went to check out Ranma ½ porn, And was annoyed by how terrible the ones I found were, and I was really demoralized at how good the other anime hentai doujins were but it seemed like no one gave a shit about Ranma ½, until I stumbled upon and fapped to ‘Keeping it Clean’, a Ranmabooks.com book. It was kinky, it was funny, it was well drawn and it was in color: it was perfect. I soon started looking up more books from Ranmabooks, mainly Ranma ½, but I also bought their Batman comic, and DBZ Comics. When Ranmabooks.com went subscription service, I joined up and became part of the community, usually yelling at Deep Star and SHADE to bring more filthy porn and more Ukyo in that filthy porn.


As the years went by I became closer to Deep Star and SHADE, we’ve had alot of conversations about how everything is made in the Drawn To Hentai circle, and eventually they asked me if I wanted to help them with things. I accepted and became the social media representative last summer.



Kasaix: What is the current state of Ranmabooks? Given the quality work with Ranma, Justice Hentai, and Enchanted Hentai, I certainly hope things are on the up and up.



SHADE: Wish I could say that, but on a financial level we’re struggling. On a purely artistic level I think we’re putting out the finest work we’ve ever done, continually getting better as we go along.


I firmly believe the quality of our art, our writing, our passion for being true to the Ranma characters and compelling storytelling, can and would draw people to us on its own, if only they knew we existed.


So I am hopeful this interview will bring us to the attention of people who didn’t know we existed. The art sells itself, we’ve been giving our all to make it special for near 20 years now in my case.



Muffdiver884: As the social media rep, my job under the moniker Drawn That Way (“I’m not bad, I’m just drawn that way.”) is to improve Ranmabooks, Justice Hentai, and Enchanted Hentai’s standing in the public eye, to help with that issue of people not knowing we exist. I feel with the steady amount of art releases, interacting with fans and followers and just being candid with things, people know who we are now, especially when Kasaix from doujins.com is interviewing us!


That said, financially it could be better, and we can understand that not everyone can afford our subscription services, so we’ve also tried to be more flexible. We have our Patreon, with prices starting at $2 a month, and we’ve recently started releasing themed bundle packs of our content outside of our normal subscription plan. When first released and on special occasions they are priced at $4.99, and then $9.99 normally. Our first bundle pack was on Ranma-Chan, titled ‘Lady in Red:’ it came out last December. We’re looking to release our next bundle pack on Kasumi ‘Ore No Ane/My Elder Sister’ really soon.




Kasaix: I noticed that the art style changes between pictures. There are characters who look super close to their original styles, and a different style. Who does what style in your group?




SHADE: We have a small group of artists we work with from all over the world. Art is very labor intensive and if we had only a single artist working the pace of production would be glacially slow.


We divide up the artwork among several capable artists. Some combinations of lineart and color seem to be most popular so we put out as much of that style as we can produce while filling in with the others as necessary.


I would give specific names but I’m unsure how the various artists feel about having their names used directly. I don’t want to make assumptions then have that bite me later.



Kasaix: Which piece or art, or comic, would you happily show off to give new fans a general idea of what you’re about?




SHADE: Oh goodness, I could post things for days to share and not even dent our total supply. We’ve been at this for 20 years, we’ve got thousands and thousands of pages, over 50 entire comics, and thousands of pinups that are direct fan requests and specials designed by us as well.


We maintain a free tour of much of our latest work here:


http://ranmabooks.com/DefenderTour.php


And a longer even more complete rundown of our comics spanning some ten+ years back at our projects page here:


http://ranmabooks.com/Projects/


A big part of our artwork that I haven’t mentioned yet, but long felt sets us apart from other hentai books is our attention to the detail of the world. Every page of every comic has a complete environmental background. Our goal is always to feel like a frame from an anime. Because richly detailed backgrounds are insanely difficult and time consuming to do, one of my many self-training tasks over the years was learning how to make, and making, incredibly detailed 3D location models of the important Ranma ½ locations.


Such as the Tendo Home:




And Furinkan High school:





A specific example from a recent comic combining that technique with hand drawn character art. This is from: The Hentai Zone: Chapter 4, which is an ongoing series we have that retells the Ranma ½ story from the beginning in a much naughtier way! These two frames are from a scene riffing on a famous moment with Ranma-chan and Ryoga in the Tendo bathroom:






And another example from Muffdiver884’s ongoing book that I’m sure he’ll love to share, a particular favorite:




In the example just above the blanket they are laying on is hand drawn and hand colored, but the rest of the room is 3D.


We combine these techniques to make the world richer and more detailed in every frame, with no easy or lazy frames. Every panel of every comic is equally as detailed.


We also sometimes do elseworlds and alternate realities with the characters when the fans request it. Mixing it up in lots of entertaining ways. Some recent popular ones have been a Conan-esque fantasy:






And a recent fan request delves into a science fiction zone with our favorite girls dressed up like the classic Dirty Pair:






Muffdiver884: Your eyes aren’t deceiving you, that guy does in fact have two dicks! : )


SHADE: Really I could go on for hours, post 100+ pics to share and it would be a drop in the bucket of what we’ve got. But just to share more, here’s some random covers and panels from some of our work:











That last one above is the cover from one of our major epics. Over 120 pages long and entirely complete now. Playing on the classic Ranma movie “Nihao My Concubine” with the gang stranded on a tropical island. The hentai potential was obvious to anyone who ever saw that movie. >:D


Also due to the blog file size limitations all examples here are mere postage stamps compared to the high res finals we post. We’ve also recently begun shifting into ultra-detailed 4K finals.



Kasaix: Who is your favorite character, or characters, that you love drawn? What sort of situation do you enjoy putting them in?



SHADE: My favorite is Nabiki. But I love them all and enjoy telling engaging stories with everyone. I enjoy challenging characters, taking them out of their comfort zone and putting them into situations where they are out of their depth and are frequently overwhelmed by the unexpected. Of course as we make hentai, them being overwhelmed is usually in a sexual sense and they discover new heights of pleasure they never thought possible. ^_-



Muffdiver884: My favorite characters are Ukyo, Ryoga, and Kuno. Ukyo, I just want to see her in more things. Ryoga I like seeing him in vulnerable sexual situations, Kuno I like seeing him in situations where he can show he’s not a total buffoon.



Kasaix: Do you guys have a project in mind that you definitely want to work on? Like a visual novel, or another great comic?




SHADE: We are constantly making new comics. We have like, 8 different books going right now between our fan commissioned books, like Amazon, and The Hentai Zone: Chapter 4 which is still ongoing, and I have another grand epic in mind that I’ve wanted to tell for several years, focusing on Shampoo, the Amazon way of life, and a return to Jusenkyo.


We’ve got epic stuff lined up for years, we need only enough fans supporting us to see it through to fruition. :)



Muffdiver884: Well I’m actually writing a comic called Ukyo’s Bizarre Adventure, (the image of Ryoga booty-worshipping Ukyo, is from that book) which by the title, is gonna be hella weird. And by weird I don’t mean the pegging in the first five pages. Besides that my projects are into exploring other ways to devour our media. Visual Novels, RPG Maker Games, Merchandise, Audio Doujins, maybe. (Such a great idea, btw)



Kasaix: Let’s wrap this up so you can get back to lewding martial artists, super heroes, and princesses. Do you have any parting words to all your fans?




SHADE: It has been a strange ride. I never expected us to survive this long, never even really planned to make hentai for a living. As I said far above, I had originally planned to be a novelist. But this is the path life took me on and I wouldn’t trade it for anything, I love to create, love to write and draw and know that my work has been seen and appreciated by fans.

I hope the journey can continue, we’ve got so much more awesome we can make. The hentai potential of Ranma is limitless, and our art is better than ever. We’re also the last people really carrying the torch of Ranma hentai, I’m not aware of any other group actively making Ranma hentai anymore.


If the fans are there to support us, we’ll carry on making the best Ranma hentai art we possibly can. I’ve had many ask over the years if I get tired of it, and nope, never have, still love it! And if I haven’t tired of it in 20 years, I doubt I ever will.


So the future of it all lies with the fans, if they are with us, we’ll be there for them in return. :D


--SHADE :)



Muffdiver884: I never thought I’d be in the Hentai Business myself, but now that I’m in, I don’t ever want to leave. When you’ve finished your fapping or shlicking, you realize there is a whole other world behind the veil, with all kinds of neat people, either consuming or creating something, and I wouldn’t give up knowing any of them for a second. #smutpeddlerforlife





Another huge thanks goes out to the great people behind Ranmabooks. If you want to continue following their work, and you really should, check out the sites linked below.



http://www.ranmabooks.com

https://www.patreon.com/ranmabooks

http://www.justicehentai.com

https://www.enchantedhentai.com

https://www.deviantart.com/drawnthatwayxx

https://twitter.com/DrawnWay

https://drawnthatwayxx.newgrounds.com