The Top 18 Dragons Who Aren't Smaug

Monday, December 16, 2013 at 6:00 am

12. Fin Fang Foom

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In the October 1961 issue of Strange Tales, this sleeping dragon was awakened by a resourceful lad and sicced on a camp of Red Chinese invaders, then successfully put back to sleep through the use of herbal medicine. He's been awakened many times since, however, and has tangled with such Marvel notables as the Fantastic Four and Iron Man.

Over the course of these subsequent adventures, we've learned that he's a native of the planet Kakaranthara, and that his impressive moniker translates as "He whose limbs shatter mountains and whose back scrapes the sun." In actuality, FFF's creator Stan Lee claims that the monster's alliterative name derived from the title Chu Chin Chow, a '30s-era movie version of the famed English musical play that had stuck in Lee's head since he was a kid.

Here's another one from the comics...

11. Andar's Bad Trip

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This two-headed horror graced the cover of issue #62 (July 1968) of Turok, Son of Stone, which chronicled the adventures of Turok and his young friend Andar, indigenous Americans who've wandered into a "Lost Valley" of dinosaurs and pronoun-challenged cavemen.

In the story, the dragon turns out to be a hallucination by Andar, who is tripping under the influence of some local flora. It's none-too-subtle anti-drug propaganda. As I recall, I found it a cheat as a kid that the promised beast was just an illusion. Sure is a cool painting, though.

The collected Gold Key Turok adventures are being re-published in hardcover "Archive" editions by Dark Horse comics. This issue may be found in Volume #10.

10. Singe

Introduced in 1983, the arcade favorite Dragon's Lair, designed by animator Don Bluth, featured this Smaug-like sort: He slept on a stash of gold coins, and breathed fire. Unlike Smaug, however, Singe was the stooge of evil Mordroc, for whom he had abducted the nubile Princess Daphne. Her rescuer - the player's surrogate - was the set-jawed but not-always-unflappable Dirk the Daring.

Maybe even cooler than Singe's depiction in the game is his incarnation as an action figure, however:

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9. Ender Dragon

We could hardly leave the subjects of either video games or toys without a nod to the Ender Dragon, scourge of the cube-assembling game Minecraft. The dreaded geometrical nightmare is available both in virtual form and in Lego form.

The only question is: Does a game in which the Ender Dragon prevails constitute an Ender's Game?

8. The White Worm

Lair of the White Worm, Bram Stoker's feverish final novel of 1911 was inspired by the northern-England legend of the Worm of Lambton. Ken Russell's 1988 adaptation is a lightweight but genuinely witty little film, maybe my favorite of Russell's works, formidable though The Devils (1971) is. White Worm's imagery is sexy in a marvelously adolescent way, Amanda Donohoe is unforgettable as the seductive but lethal snake-woman, and there are charming early performances by Peter Capaldi and Hugh Grant, posh and self-deprecating as ever, as the young heroes.

By far the best thing in the movie, however, is the song linked to above, and the white dragon that joins the party mid-number to be dispatched by Grant, with characteristic sheepishness.

7. Yosemite Sam's Dragon

Sam, cast as the Black Knight in 1958's "Knighty Knight Bugs," had a henchdragon who seemed to be trying hard, but whose tendency to sneeze proved a recurrent problem. The perennial Bugs antagonist is ultimately moved to pronounce a blanket judgment: "Dragons is so stupid."

"Knighty Knight Bugs," by the way, won the Oscar for Best Animated Short. Outrageously, it was the first, and more outrageously it is to date the only, Bugs Bunny cartoon to do so. It's the entire basis, therefore, for Bugs' billing as "that Oscar-winning rabbit."

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