This entry was written by AkityMH, who you can find at https://www.deviantart.com/akitymh. I may have made a few touch ups and notes here and there, but the bulk of this entry is their work!
Some seven years ago or so I saw a graphic novel on a shelf that caught my eye and desperately wanted, and didn’t get until a few years ago through a gift from our deer presenter of the ICHF and creator of Horror Flora, William Cope!
Thanks for this book, buddy, I cherish it quite a lot due to it being practically the only story of its kind.
What story is that?
A Town Called Dragon.
Dragons have become the poster boy for all things fantasy. When you think of a fairytale, or something fantastic and old stories, dragons often come to mind. They are truly the child of imagination. Everyone knows what a dragon is. Dragons are pretty much in every fantasy story. Tolkienverse, the old story of Beowulf, Dragon Riders of Pern, How to Train your Dragon, Harry Potter has dragons of course, Eragon, Final Fantasy, Dungeons and Dragons, Drakenguard, true mythology all around the old world and even the new world, children’s books, Dragonball Z, Godzilla is practically a dragon and King Ghidorah is a dragon, Arthurian legend, Age of Fire, Isekai stories, and even Star Wars has frigging dragons.
I could rattle off, as so many of us can, why dragons are so damn amazing and usable, abusable, and beloved. Here is the kicker though… There is really no dragon horror out there. I can name a few, namely from the Sci-Fy channel such as Dragonstorm, Dragon Fighter and Wyvern. Would you believe there are very few horror Dragon novels or stories? I wouldn’t even count Beowulf, since that is just an old legend of a hero, not a horrific dragon. Long ago, dragons were like any other monster: an allegory of fear. There was even a theory at one time that dragons were truly an accumulation of all human fears, having traits of all primal animals we evolved alongside such as big cats, birds of prey, snakes, toxic animals and of course the mysterious element of FIRE!
And yet here we are where we all love dragons as pets, friends, giant monsters that fight other monsters and powerful sources of wisdom and magic. Anything other than scary. We practically forgot just how scary the concept of a dragon can be… If we ever even had that context to begin with. Most people think of a dragon with “ooo” and “ahhh” when something amazing as a dragon comes into play into a story. They invoke a sense of imagination unmatched by nearly all things… Except maybe dinosaurs, who equally capture the imagination and most people find them more amazing than scary. I’m no different in that aspect. Dragons, to me, are practically synonymous with all things creative and the root of all imagination. A bit of a claim for me to make, but dragons truly are that amazing to the point I really wanted to make my ICHF about dragons as a whole. They are the titular monster. When I hear dragon, I don’t think of dread, I think “AW HELL YEAH!”
So where does A Town Called Dragon fit into that, and how does it differ? I’ll admit I haven’t looked super hard, but there really are very few dragon attack stories: where the conflict and terrifying force of nature takes the place of a giant shark, crocodile, bear, snake… is a dragon. Replace Lake Placid with a dragon, or Tremors, Jaws, and just about any other killer animal story.
The Dragons, to which the Dragon of this story is the last of its kind after its parent is finally killed by some Norwegian Vikings kill it…. They ride out to the dragon’s nest, and return with the last dragon egg in the entire world to destroy so that the threat of dragons never returns… To which the story violently reveals that dragon eggs and baby dragons are 100% immortal. They cannot be killed in any shape or form that we know of. They hit it with axes from their strongest warriors, they topple a one story stone slab on it, but nothing can shatter the unborn horror inside. Unable to crush it. Dropping it in the ocean will “have it take on the properties of water”. Boiling it in a geyser will hatch it, as fire and heat are what they thrive in. The only thing that can be done is to keep it sealed, in cold oil, and a group of norwegians take the quest to take the egg across the sea, far, far away from humans as far as they will go. They succeed… They reach the new world that will become North America, and travel all the way to Colorado’s mountains where the last of these men settle with one note.
Leave it in the dark.
Leave it in the cold,
And best no one ever speak of it,
Or ever breath the name of this cursed beast,
The prologue of this story makes it clear that this isn’t just a fantastic creature of a bygone era like some dinosaur like we often imagine dragons to be. It is a devil, a horrible thing that practically counteracts the era of man, a curse that needs to be forgotten so it never comes back. This isn’t some misunderstood animal, or some benevolent deity from the far east. This is a monster that actively eats entire villages of people in one sitting before sleeping a few days to sleep it off, only to wake up and do it again, and again for as long as it lives.
That goes right down the shitter…
A town near these mountains passed down the story, and the town itself is called “Dragon”, in light of the story. Of course, it’s just a story! Just another tall tale of dragons. In the hopes there was some truth, some German archeologists had followed the legend all the way from Norway to America, where they uncovered the sealed cave and blast away the stone rocks built up around the container of oil and the egg… which promptly hatched! A small dinosaur-looking lizard rips apart everyone within a minute, powerful enough to throw its hand through a human skull. The carnage has begun, and the world again is at threat of the return of dragons.
After that, this story is roughly the same as any man eating animal horror movie like Lake Placid or Jaws. This scrawny dinosaur-looking thing is going around eating people one after another, flocks of cows and it just grows until its wings grow out and it can fly. Bullets bounce off it all the time, cops are called on some teenagers who are also using explosives and blame them for some of the shenanigans at first, there is a plot to renovate this old town into shopping malls and the town doesn’t necessarily want that. Now this now Tyrannosaurus looking dragon rampages through the town and eats a handful of people, they hit it with a truck, and then try burning which only accelerates its growth and it sprouts wings and flies off. To top it off, this town is seeing the biggest blizzard with the phones being out to begin with because of renovations relating to renovating the town, so they’re also stuck in this town. A funny note to make is that one guy shooting at it to lure it calls it Barney and then Godzilla. Legendary was fresh off the 2014 release of Godzilla, and they really were riding that train hard.
Really, it’s a predictable story. The only catch here is that the monster is a legit, fire breathing, legendary dragon. I really cannot think of any other novel that does that, to the point I am planning my own book with that concept. There are some movies, and not very good ones, either.
A Town Called Dragon is fun as hell. You don’t need to shake up the story and its beats all the time. Sometimes those work, and this is a case of that. The dragon… Well, I don’t know what it necessarily symbolizes exactly. Given it exists beyond what a normal animal does, such as being immortal as an egg and hatchling, and growing to half its adult size in a few days, it’s not far to believe that there are some more mystic performances here. Perhaps it is some earthly way of attempting to keep a balance with mankind, the only other thing to ever make use of fire to which mankind is infamous for harnessing to accelerate itself forward as a whole. That’s my two cents on it anyway. I doubt this book will get any sort of sequel to ever reveal some kind of answer to that now that all dragons are extinct in the context of this story by the end of it.
I highly suggest this book. It isn’t long, but it doesn’t need to be. It’s a good old story of a man eater on the loose, and we can all love that. I hope to see more Dragon Horror media in the future that isn’t a subpar direct to TV movie.