A Very Special Prison, by Erich von Gotha
A Very Special Prison

Erich von Götha is the most recurring pseudonym of Robin Ray, one of the masters of erotic comics. He uses different paint and illustration techniques to tell his stories, which usually have a strong element of bondage and S&M sex. Several of his tales are also set in a historical past. His best known comics works are 'The Troubles of Janice' (1987-1996)  and 'Twenty' (2004-2008), and his illustrations for the erotic novel 'Fanny Hill' by John Cleland. Other pen names he uses are Erich von Götha de la Rosière, Erich von Götha Janssens, Baldur Grimm and Robbins.

Erich von Götha's Torrid magazine

Born in Wimbledon, London, in 1924, Robin Ray studied drawing and painting at St. Martins art school for four years. He began his career working for London advertising agencies as a designer, illustrator and copywriter, and then worked as a teacher at Ealing School of Art. His first ventures into eroticism were contributions to the 'Sex Maniac's Diary' series (1972-1995) by English sex therapist Tuppy Owens. This resulted in Von Götha's pornographic comics magazine Torrid, which appeared irregularly between 1979 and 1986. The magazine's mascot was a German baron in leather boots, who welcomes his "genital readers" in every issue. Recurring characters are the Sylvia Kristel look-alike Roz and swingers couple Jo and David Tracy, who endulge in orgy stories collected under the title 'Come Together'. Of a more historical but not less explicit nature was 'The Roman Life of Laura'. The early issues of the magazine also featured contributions by the British fetish artist and adult actress Paula Meadows (Lynn Paula Russell).


Come Together (Torrid #12)

Von Götha's early works were later reprinted and translated into French, appearing in pornographic magazines like YES and BD Adult, albeit initially without Von Götha's knowledge. Since the English censors are well known for being quite prudent Götha had trouble getting his comics published. Several of his comics first saw print in France and Germany before they eventually appeared in an English edition. His works were from then on regularly serialized in Bédé Adult and Bédé X, and published in book format by International Presse Magazine (IPM) in France. His first books were the sci-fi story 'Conte à rebours' (1987) and the album 'Crimes et délits' (1988), both published by YES Company in France. The latter was the tale of a perverted man who tells his lover about the lives of Charles Manson and Rasputin. Von Götha drew the Rasputin section after the original artist Georges Lévis died.

The Troubles of Janice by Erich Von Gotha
The Troubles of Janice, volume 1

He gained fame with 'The Troubles of Janice' (1987-1996), a sado-masochistic comic set in the late 18th century, during the heydays of the notorious Marquis de Sade. Loosely based on De Sade's 'La Philosophie dans le Boudoir' ('Philosophy in the Bedroom', 1795), the tale follows duke viscount Vauxhall of Nether Wallop and his female sex slave Janice. Apart from extensive sex scenes the work makes an effort to bring the time period to life in its lavishly illustrated artwork. 'The Troubles of Janice' was serialized in Bédé Adult and first published in book format by International Presse Magazine in 1987 as 'Malheurs de Janice'. It was also translated in German as 'Die Leiden der jungen Janice' ('The Suffering of Young Janice'), a humoristic nod to Goethe's famous literary novel 'Die Leiden des jungen Werthers' (1774). An English-language version was published by Last Gasp in 1998. A luxury edition of all four was published in 2008 by Dynamite editions.


The Troubles of Janice, volume 3

'The Troubles of Janice' is a pleasing mixture between eroticism and horror. Götha was aware of his predecessors and gave characters from other famous sex comics cameos. Readers may be able to recognize John Willie's' 'Sweet Gwendoline', Frank Springer's 'Phoebe Zeit-Geist', Georges Pichard's 'Marie Gabrielle de Saint-Eutrope' and Guido Crepax' version of 'Justine'. The 'Janice' series was made in close collaboration with the French campaigning writer, historian and collector Bernard Joubert.

The Dream of Cécilia
The Dream of Cécilia

Several one-shot books at International Presse Magazine (IPM) appeared throughout the 1990s. 'A Very Special Prison' ('Prison très spéciale', 1991) introduces a young woman to sadomasochistic prison life. The adventures of the red-haired and curious student Sophie take place in London at St. Hilary's College in 1958, and appeared under the title 'Curiosités Perverses de Sophie' ('The Education of Sophie', 1995). 'The Dream of Cécilia' ('Le Rêve de Cécile', 1995), is about the young and pretty Cécile, who is caught in a boring marriage and tries to find sexual fulfillment in her erotic dreams.

The 'Twenty' trilogy (2004-2008) was a futuristic version of 'Janice', and starred in a science fiction story set in the (then) faraway year of 2018. It follows the sexual adventures of an 18-year old girl, Twenty, at a special college for young girls. Her education will be finished in 2020: the beginning of a new era of sex, according to the author.according to the author. Twenty enjoys her libertarian education in sexual freedom and proves to be a gifted student.


Twenty

Von Götha also worked as a book illustrator. He provided artwork for a previously unpublished manuscript called 'Le Sentiment de la Famille' (1996) by Pierre Louÿs (1870-1925), a Belgian-French writer known for his lesbian-themed work. His art also graced a 2003 re-edition of the 18th century British erotic novel 'Fanny Hill or Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure' by John Cleland for The Scarlet Library. In 2007 he illustrated 'Journal of Sartine' (Éditions Astarté), set during the reign of French king Louis XIV and based on the life of Antoine de Sartine, who was lieutenant-general of the Parisian police and Minister of War.

Since the 1980s Von Götha has additionally produced many erotic paintings for friends and fans and has several art books published by Larmes d'Eros in Paris. Many of his prints and commissions combine eroticism with a mythological theme. The artist's old friend Bernard Joubert wrote a biography about the man, which was published under the title 'Les carnets secrets d'Erich von Götha' by Dynamite in 2016. The book provided many new facts and insights about the life and work of this, until then, mysterious artist.

The Education of Sophie by Erich von Gotha
The Education of Sophie

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