Ya know, if I were my namesake (a bear) I sometimes think I’d spend a lot of time poking hornet nests just for amusement. Take the dragon people.
The “dragon people” (sorry, Peganthryus!) is my term for those individuals who either think they’re dragons, or that dragons are real, or know dragons personally, or were a dragon in a past life and see fit to tell me about it in aggressive “Your dragons are wrong! Dragons aren’t like that!” terms.
Now, being that I do art for a living, and primarily fantasy art at that, I’m used to the fact that my job is essentially either catering to people’s fantasy lives or selling them bits of my own, and generally I gots no problem wi’ dat. Most of them are perfectly decent, somewhat geeky people, and being a major geek myself, I can relate. And then there’s the real weirdos, who I would also be fine with, except when they get outta hand in my direction.
I noticed after awhile that whenever I posted a fantasy piece over at Elfwood, if I made some utterly random comment in the description–for example “This giant riding macaw offers a brainy, non-flammable alternative to dragons, who are small brained and explode when nervous”–i.e. the sort of out-of-thin-air stuff that I dredge up when attempting to write better copy than “ph3aR mY l33t 81rd! copyright mememememe!”–I could anticipate that a good third of all comments would be “You suck. Dragons are smart! We invented…blah blah, puny mortal.” I even had one teenager threaten me quite seriously that the dragons were gonna get me. This stuff was not limited to comment functions–I’d get e-mails. Really…odd…emails. And so forth, and so on, painting after painting, year after year, while I grew more and more bemused, because unlike all other fads, this one never quite stops. Nor was it just description related–some people actually get quite incensed if you deviate from the Ciruelo-defined norm of dragonkind and will tell you “Dragons don’t look like that!”
Since learning from one’s mistakes is something that, in my world, happens to other people, I probed this like a sore tooth. The dragon people were joined by a few members of the gryphon people, but not many. Unicorn people made more of a predictable blip on the radar. There seemed to be a few generalized myth people who would stand up for the rights of gorgons and manticores in addition to dragons. Nobody seemed interested in defending naked women. Fairies mostly fended for themselves. The angel people, as a subset of the generally religious people, made an appearance to protest angelic sexuality, but still, far and away, the great group that appeared to have both a tenuous grip on what we laughingly call “consensual reality” and, much more importantly, the desire to tell me about it at great and antagonistic length, were the dragon people.
Where am I going with all this?
You might well ask–this is nothing new and I’ve bitched about it before, and even painted about it before. Mocking these poor souls is like shooting fish in a barrel with an AK-47, and I try not to do it too often. But what I’ve realized is that I am so sensitized to the fact that some member of the dragon people is gonna go off on anything dragon-related I paint, that my brain, like Pavlov’s dog, has adapted in order, not only to anticipate this, but to derive the most amusement from it. (Hey, I never said I was a nice person.)
Yesterday I painted an anime dragon-girl to go along with my anime ratgirl. And about two-thirds of the way through, with the end in sight, the verbal part of my brain, which is mostly unengaged while painting, and thus wanders around at loose ends giggling and shouting nonsense, rather like Gir from “Invader Zim,” (“Piggy!”) snaps on at some unknown but pre-arranged visual signal, salutes, says “Yes, my master!” and begins carefully composing the artist’s statement that accompanies the art in most archives.
There are several rules. For example, the statement must include phrases like “As we all know…” or “As anyone who studies dragons is aware…” to set the stage. It must not refer to “in my world” or “in the mythical land of Urslandia”, because if people don’t know by now that dragons are mythical and can be anything to anybody, they oughta learn, and more importantly, I just invent this stuff out’ve whole cloth, it’s not part of any integrated world that I illustrate. And, most important, it must be blatantly absurd. Anyone can reply to “Dragons have the brains of fire-breathing avocadoes” but it takes a real trooper to come up with a response to something like “Dragons, as we all know, are the descendants of blind cave worms who must coat themselves in a shell of damp newspaper in order to survive above ground, thus explaining the multitude of dragons found lurking around the edges of recycling centers.” And hey, it keeps me amused (and evidentally other people as well, since I think the number one comment I hear on my art is “The art’s okay, but I come back for the writing.” *sigh* Oh, well, so long as they come back…)
All of which is a roundabout way of getting to the anime dragongirl, and her associated description, of a highly sexually dimorphic species of dragons where the males hoard and the humanoid females take classes in appraisal and antiquing, the better to determine the value of a male’s hoard down to the last penny. Enjoy!