Lezhin did it again, sucking me right back into webcomic hell and I have to give it to their marketing team—if it weren’t for their aggressive ad campaign on Instagram, I may have never discovered this series in the first place. Painter of the Night is an ongoing Korean historical BL webcomic series by Byeonduck. The entire series is being released in English every Friday over on Lezhin.
I have been burned by ongoing series before, so it really takes A LOT for me to invest my time in an incomplete series, especially one on Lezhin—but, I am a sucker for gorgeous artwork and anything historical, so I fell headfirst into Painter of the Night and there’s no going back!
Painter of the Night follows Na-kyum a young painter who was raised by courtesans. Probably because of all the… “stuff” he saw growing up, Na-kyum specializes in erotic paintings depicting graphic sex between men. Over the years he’s published a few of his paintings under a psuedonym, but suddenly decides to give it up despite their popularity. Enter, Seungho, a young aristocrat, who is infamous for his insatiable lust and mercurial temperament. He tracks Na-kyum down and forces him to become his own personal painter and drags him off to his estate.
Each night Seungho invites Na-kyum to his bed chambers to paint his elicit sexual liasons with fellow nobles. Initially Na-kyum is reluctant, but, Seungho isn’t one to take no for an answer. With each passing night, Na-Kyum finds himself pulled further into Seungho’s world…The series is set in Korean during the Joeson Dynasty, so expect lots of class politics and elicit sexual liaisons.
So, I’ve seen a lot of folks compare Painter of the Night with Killing Stalking and while I have yet to read that series, I’ve seen enough memes and read enough reviews to kinda get the gist… and yeah, I’m getting some serious Sangwoo vibes from Seungho. Dude does NOT take rejection well and the series wastes no time showing just how unhinged he can get—legit tying Na-kyum up and at one point even going so far as to hold him at sword point when he refuses to paint for him. He uses intimidation to get his way and he is not above physically punishing people that defy his wishes—regardless of status. He get’s downright sadistic at times and it’s lowkey terrifying.
He brings Na-kyum to his estate and forces him to watch him have sex with other men under the guise of helping to “inspire” him to produce more paintings. And while he claims that his interest in Na-kyum is purely because of his art, if the sex eyes Seungho gives him during their “sessions” are any indication, it’s clear he is after that sweet innocent low born booty. But, it’s revealed that Na-kyum is in love with his former teacher In-hun—so Seungho brings him to the estate and uses him to blackmail Na-kyum into painting for him.
It’s a very uneven power dynamic that some folks might find kind of hard to get through, but, I kinda like it since it reflects the greater social caste system that existed during the Joeson Dynasty. Seungho can pretty much do what he wants because he is a high born noble, while Na-kyum doesn’t have that same freedom—he is very much beholden to the whims of Seungho. And, oh boy does Seungho push boundaries!
The relationship goes exactly where you expect it to and Seungho coerces Na-kyum into a sexual relationship that is more or less reminiscent of Asami and Takaba’s relationship in the Finder series. Their first sexual encounter is very much non consensual (or at the very least dub con), since Na-kyum is drunk off his ass and under the impression he is with his beloved In-hun. When he finds out the truth he tries to leave, but Seungho blackmails him into performing various sex acts with him. One of Seungho’s regular bed mates, Jihwa notices the change in their relationship and gets hella jealous, and makes it his mission to take Na-kyum down.
But, what really put this series over the edge for me was the artwork—my God is Painter of the Night GORGEOUS! You see every detail and the expressions on the character’s faces are absolutely PERFECT! The eyes are especially expressive, like you really feel all the emotions (or lack thereof) just by looking at the eyes.
The sex scenes are especially graphic, from closeups on their faces to wide shots where you see the phenomenal staging of the characters. Every scene is a work of art~ And the kiss scenes *fans self* I have never seen kisses drawn so sensually, they’re arguably better than the sex scenes!
Honestly, this whole series is one big soap opera that checks off just about every major problematic BL cliche. I should probably hate everything about it, but I can’t bring myself to not like this series. The relationship between the main couple is extremely unhealthy, and while they eventually develop feelings for one another, the non con and dub con makes it really hard to see their relationship as wholesome. It’s dirty and sexy and oh so terrible, but you can’t help but get caught up in it all… And I’m not gonna lie, there is something really sexy about seeing a powerful and attractive man completely brought to his knees by someone so “beneath” him.
As questionable as Painter of the Night is I am hooked and I’ll probably keep up with it until the very end. The latest cliffhanger in chapter 59 has impatiently awaiting next week’s new chapter, because I NEED TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENS NEXT! This is not a story for everyone, but if your looking for something twisted and sexy to add to your reading list, definitely give this series a read, you won’t be disappointed!
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