Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Imagin[ing] Dragons: The Most Versatile Creature of Myth

I'm writing this right now with the Imagine Dragon's song "It's Time" stuck in my head, but that's not why I'm making this post.

The other day when we were at Michael's, I came across a book chock full of dragons, different stories of mythology behind them, and also how to draw them.
There's always such a lure about "how to draw" books for me, especially when it comes to what I'd like to know more about.
I would have picked it up if not for the fact the sucker cost almost $30... very tempting, but I'm trying to be frugal... this year, it seems like I can't walk into Wal-Mart or Target without picking up something.

In response to that, I have yet to read several books I'd picked up recently. Among them are "The Lost Hero" and "The Serpent's Shadow" by Rick Riordan (of Percy Jackson fan), the latest "House of Night" novella telling the backstory of the evil Neferet... and I'm maybe 100 pages away from finishing Mindy Kaling's book.
So far it's been great. I'd just been getting so distracted between this and that :-P

So much about the dragon book intrigued me, but nothing more than the back stories about the different kinds. The mythologies of dragons are always changing and they vary by region. That's the part that fascinates me the most: everyone has their own story.
But I think I might have a place for the "Temple Dragon"... derived from Asian mythology, that is very reclusive and would be a lot more dangerous if they didn't go out of their way to avoid humanity.
And it's for a story I started writing months ago, but have stalled in my inspiration since then. Not that it's my greatest priority right now.
My desire to return was fueled by the thing that inspired me to begin it in the first place.

"Bleach" has gotten to the point of being extremely hopeless... as much as I love Japanese animation, there's nothing I can't stand more than an invincible villain that you literally spend the whole series trying to defeat.
What sucked about InuYasha was that the animé ended before the defeat of Naraku, but thankfully, one of my college friends who read the manga told me how it was resolved.

But with "Bleach," they have gone back and forth between several different story arcs... almost to the point where I'm begging "enough already, let's defeat this guy first"...
that's the thing about the series that last for AGES.

Everything else I'd watched only lasted for so long.

FullMetal Alchemist, both versions, ended about 50 or so...
Kekkaishi, which I watched because it starred Vic Mignona (Edward Elric) from FullMetal. barely lasted 20...
then there's Samurai 7, which only lasted 24... that's why I decided to get the boxset. Plus it feels so authentically Japanese that I geek out to it all the time.

so anyway...
I started a story about this female warrior named Cassandra, which began with her failing to defeat this invincible foe... an endeavor that almost resulted in her death...
I write up somewhat of a back story and a motive behind her quest... but have had little inspiration since then. Not that I'd worried about never finding resolution.
I got to thinking that a dragon could be the key to her emerging victorious- the trick is getting it to become her ally.
This "temple dragon" is mysterious, only appeared to a chosen few, and is extremely hard to read. 

That's all I got so far.

Supposing I go forward, this will be my 3rd time working with dragons in my work.

Jonas's story had two: one as his ally and another as his foe.

Orion, who I penned as a "distant cousin" to Jonas because they're both reincarnations of people who originated in an earlier time, had two: again, an ally and a foe... this time they were sea dragons because he is changed into a merman by a mermaid who saved him from drowning... who happened to know him in his former life.


All this got me thinking... are dragons really the most versatile mythical creatures? 
Every culture has a different story. Different writers have their different stories, whether you're Artemis Fowl or J.K. Rowling.

I don't believe there is any other that can fill this many roles and positions in fiction... whether it's in books, film or TV.
Everything else is either one or the other... all unicorns and pegasuses are deemed as pure, rare creatures... elves, dwarfs, and gnomes can play both sides, but it depends on how you ask and not many people work with them... right now I can only think of J.R.R. Tolkien, George Lucas ("Willow") and Jim Henson :-P goes to show what I know

Dragons come in all shapes and sizes... heck, there's a dragon that even had his own video game franchise...
Spyro not only got me into platform games, but his worlds are probably responsible for helping me see that not all dragons are dark creatures...
sadly, the games haven't been quite as good since Playstation... I got the first two on the PS2 and stopped after that... because the gaming was harder, longer... and maybe the fact they couldn't pick a single actor to his voice...
not that I should be complaining that much because I didn't mind the change between the first and second games... both actors happened to work together in "Rocko's Modern Life"... pretty cool... the latest actor to take over was Elijah Wood in a trilogy of games said to tell Spyro's origin and explain why he was the only dragon immune to the magic of Gnasty Gnorc in the first game.

I never got to play any of them... maybe because I rather spent my money on books, DVD'S and CD's.

I'd seen Dragonheart and DragonSlayer... neither of which I have a great memory about...
and most recently, I'd gotten to know the dragon featured in BBC's series "Merlin"...
I'm still kinda working on getting past that one.
The ending was such a cop-out and the worst of it was that the dragon showed up, as he always had before, and despite that, he told Merlin he couldn't do anything to change how things ended. Just bad writing on that part. They wanted to end the series with the 5th season, but the finale was incredibly rushed. It deserved better.
[part of me is considering putting some Arthurian mythology in my story as well... but I gotta do it  just right... otherwise it'll feel very disjointed to have Japanese influences mixed with English]

I saw Eragon and was very disappointed with it... the dragon in that was awesome, but it was clearly geared towards the people who'd read the books... the transition from the first storyline to the actual plot itself... just felt disconnected to me.
Then there's Harry Potter, where you'd seen everything from Hagrid's baby dragon Norbert to the Horntail Harry had to get past in the first TriWizard tournament task to the dragon guarding the Gringott vaults.

Some breath fire, some don't... some talk and some don't... 
and their loyalty can be with anyone or no one... it's to the writer's discretion how to use them.

So, supposing anyone who read this got to this far... any thoughts on dragons? Likes? Dislikes? Favorite interpretation?

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