One of the things I’ve noticed about illustrations of dragons (and many imaginary creatures in general) is how closely they resemble dogs. The charming beast above is a sleepy German Shepard through and through, in spite of the wings, long tail, and feathered goat-featured face. This is not a criticism of the artist, mind you. It’s how mythic animals are made appealing and familiar through the the use of real-life analogs, making them seem more real.
Another way to bring the unfamiliar to life is by using off-hand mentions of familiar-sounding but nonexistent people, places, and things, what I call Local Color. Below is a list of many examples taken from my Twitter feed, 2017 – 2020.
Local Color I (Fantasy)
|Gems and Minerals
Tuberculosis of the Cheeks due to drinking alcohol
The Wheel of Impressment
The Royal Masticator
|Stars and Constellations
||Weszar and Jorab, the Twin Archers
Anulior, the Falling Thief
Eubregeuse, the Healer’s Braid
Irulces, The Studious Beekeeper
Geltut, the Human-Headed Crow
Mirakneba The Gryphon
Villsturus and Valdkaa, The Twin Stars
Faunabi, a dim red star in the constellation of the Lioness
Vatrima, a white star also known as the Salamander’s Tongue
||Archers of the Ebon Hawk
Sons of the Midnight Eagle
The League of Celestial Illusionists
Elders of the Silver Maggot
|The Bitter Stag
The Frolicsome Dragon
The Minstrel’s Manor
Twenty Ponies and a Sip
Elanara’s Saucy Dungeon
||Hippocampus holding an anchor on a field of yellow and white stripes
Scarlet serpent entwined around a yellow fish
Two crossed axes inside a hexagon
Mermaid riding a sea-lion
Wyvern’s head impaled on a pike
||City of the Jade Dingo
The Lost City of Umbergay
The Medieval city of Fairmarvel
The City of Gnarlwood, ruled by Lady Ivorolor
||The Gryphon: The creature holds a bouquet of flowers in its beak and its head is crowned with stars. In the background is a plowed field. The card implies good health, but when reversed, a broken bone.
The Steward: He wears a fur doublet and fights a cockatrice with an axe. Behind him, several people have already been turned to stone. It means a close associate will betray the subject.
Adaptation: Depicts an anthropomorphized rooster riding an ox. Its meaning changes with whatever card is placed at its right.
The Widowed Lady: A weeping woman dressed in black swings a censor trailing smoke. Behind her is peaceful farmland. Means ill fortune for the near future.
The Hawk: A brown and white hawk hovers above a burning furnace about which men work. Can mean either industry or the need to remain watchful.