Dedicated fans might believe that some of the most magical works of fantasy art can be found in the vivid imagery of dragons. And some, like myself, believe that the stories behind these images can be just as enchanting.
Originally published in France almost a decade ago, Sur la Piste des Dragons Oubliés (Forgotten the Dragon’s Track) was the ingenious creation of Elian Black’Mor and Carine-M. Earlier this month, Dynamite Entertainment adapted the magical storybook and released it under the title In Search of Lost Dragons.
This is one of the few books capable of eluding justifiable visual description. The words artful, beautiful, and gorgeous just don’t seem fitting. Maybe stunning? At a quick glance, one might confuse this as a coffee table book. But this is only at a quick glance. Measuring 8” x 12.8” and 1” thick, the elongated form immediately stands out from most other hardbacks. And the dark fiery dragon spreading its wings like a fighter flexing his biceps on the cover is also a tell-tale sign that this is not just a marketing tool for a DreamWorks production. This is not a coffee table book.
By using artistic sketches, paintings, faux photos and a wide assortment of mediums like stains and watercolors, the screaming images can almost be heard.
Constructed like a personal journal, the illustrated book follows the adventures of a courageous reporter/explorer as he traverses across Europe and Asia recording his encounters with various magical winged discoveries. Page after page, the personal narration draws on the journalist’s desperation and despair, fear and admiration, and a dedication to record his inner thoughts about the mystical creatures.
The book is primarily an illustration, but the story recounting the narrator’s journey is what ties the images together and brings the adventure to life. Dragons lose their mythological status in these pages. They are no longer lost because our hero has not only found them, he brought them back and shared them with us.
Being presented as a journal, the lettering is in sweeping cursive script that is difficult to read at times. Yet, even in the translated version, the prose is expressed in a dark yet poetic tone that readers will adhere to as they become immersed in the journey.
“I’ve also heard that here one can easily find Ankou, the Grim Reaper, out on his rounds, collecting souls upon his chariot at the moment of their passing…”
It is through startling prose like this that the authors are able to pull the reader in. By twisting the magic with the macabre through familiar folklore imagery, we are able to believe in the allusive dragon. Ankou is the embodiment of the grim reaper in French mythology, not unlike the cloaked skeletal figure recognized in other cultures.
Within the thick glossy pages of In Search of Lost Dragons looms the ghastly yet romantic images of beasts one might find in dreams – or nightmares. But, even though they are credited with the artwork, it is the story told by authors Elian Black’Mor and Carine-M that brings them all to life.