More on Dragons

If there was one thing that the Rankin-Bass animation The Hobbit got right, it was the monsters (if there were two, they would be the monsters and the soundtrack. we must away ere break of day to seek…). Smaug is an excellent dragon. He incorporates elements of the bat, the lion, and the wolf, and his eye is both feline and reptilian. When he comes on the screen, you know that either shit’s going down, or he’s playing with his victim. His appearance is fearsome, demonic, and utterly reprehensible. His character complements it nicely, and it seems almost as though his face is an extension of who he is. You can make anything look cute with a slight tweak of the eye, but you know that if this thing did it, he would tear you limb from limb the second you got close. His age is indeterminate- ageless. He could be a young upstart dragon to the untrained eye, but if you know anything about his history you can feel the centuries in his gaze. In the picture he seems to be looking at something else, but that just makes it scarier- you could take advantage of his idle distraction, but what good could you possibly do? Obviously, his attention is everywhere, regardless of where his eye is. He knows exactly what you’re doing.




And these guys. They are cold-blooded all the way through. They carry a different form of danger from the mammalian shrewdness of Smaug. Who knows what they could be thinking? You have absolutely no references for cold-blooded intelligence. It simply isn’t something in human experience. Their hissing, grinning faces are masks of impenetrable plates, their eyes are heavy-lidded but certainly alert, and you can tell without any sort of reference that they are huge. Despite their bulk, they are without doubt no lumbering beasts, but can obviously rush towards you faster than you can think. Do they play with their food? Who knows? With these guys, you know that no shit will go down until the shit flinches. Then, they will destroy it and resume waiting. They can slither on legs. They are the essence of Chaotic Evil- whereas Smaug himself might even be said to be Neutral Evil. I must admit that I have never been a large fan of Erol Otus. Much of his stuff is quite good, but I don’t actively seek it out. This, however, is awesome. Suck it, cover of the 1981 Basic set edited by Tom Moldvay!










Both of these pictures now occupy a place in my heart, competing for the ‘best’ spot with each other and the Tudor Humphries illustration that I mentioned.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: