Comics on the Brain just finished listening to the audio book of Christopher Moore’s “The Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove,” wherein a town is collectively pulled off its anti-depressants and the very act attracts a 100-foot-long dragon to the Pacific Coast hamlet.
It’s arrival ignites a number of problems around town, and Constable Theopolis Crowe is set into action as he slowly figures out what’s happening to the sweet little tourist town of Pine Cove, California.
While listening to the tongue-in-cheek adventure story, narrated by Oliver Wyman, the Dungeons & Dragons player in me couldn’t help but be intrigued by the properties Moore assigns to his sea beast.
Along the way, the dragon, who is ultimately named Steve by his lover displays a wide variety of abilities. Among them:
- The ability to communicate by changing the color of its scales.
- The ability to camouflage itself against a moving background.
- The ability to polymorph into inanimate objects.
- The ability to breathe underwater.
- The ability to transform itself into the opposite sex.
- The ability to mate with humans.
- Immense size.
- Near indestructiblity.
Another power, which is the crux of the entire book is its ability to generate a sort of pheromone that immediately effects those within miles of the creature. Essentially, the dragon pushes people into a sense of longing, either by mesmerizing them into a spiritual bliss or by making them really, really horny — hence the title of the book.
With those abilities at its disposal, theories abound in the book as to how the dragon operates.
- It targets prey in an emotionally depressed state, distracting them with intense emotions so that it can eat them.
- It uses its powers to get humans to worship it so that it can devour their sacrifices.
- And it hates things that can help humans (and other prey) chase their “blues” away.
As tabletop gamers, CotB thinks all these things add up to an interesting package. In Dungeons & Dragons terms, the beast seems very similar to a Gold Dragon — or at least something of a Dragon subtype. In the book, Steve is alternately described as a Sea Serpent, a Dragon and as a “sea beast.”
In gaming terms, it wouldn’t have a dragons’ typical “frightful presence,” which drives creatures away from it. Instead, it would have a “pacifying presence,” which actually makes a whole lot of sense. What kind of carnivore wants its prey to run from it? Why not lull it into submission and chomp down?
The audio version: As for the presentation of “The Lust Lizard of Pine Cove,” Comics on the Brain was iffy on the whole thing. Like we said, we listened to the audio book by Oliver Wyman, and while Wyman did a great job of presenting a lot of different characters with unique voices, we felt he came off too smug as the narrator. He seemed to always be setting up a joke, but never exactly delivering it.
Still, the man’s vocal variety was incredible.
Likewise, we’re confident that it would be a story that would generate more than a few laughs.
The story: Without revealing too much of the plot in this review, lets just say the best part of the whole book is how Moore manages to pull together an intriguing cast of characters.
Our favorite, hands down, was Molly Michon, who was an aging B-movie actress with mental health issues. By the end of the book, she was wearing her “Kendra, Warrior Babe of the Outland” leather bikini and swinging a broadsword in an effort to keep Steve from eating any more people. It’s a concept that brought a smile to our face at the very idea of a Red Sonja wannabe defending a California town.
Molly wasn’t the main character though, that honor belongs to Theopolis Crowe, a spaced out patrolman who just wants to relax with his bong and avoid any real confrontation. He ends up with about a half-dozen murders, a town-wrecking explosion and a meth lab to deal with.
The plot is generally propelled by a number of disasters that crop up, mostly as the result of the dragon trying to mate with things or giving in to its decades long hunger, but that’s just the basic structure. Aside from that, there’s side stories about a blues singer who loses the blues, a misguided psychologist, a pharmacist with a fetish and a big-time drug operation going on right behind Crowe’s house.
All those plot threads eventually get nicely tied up in the big climax. That snugness of plot, plus all the interesting fantasy elements mixed in a modern setting, makes “Lust Lizard” a nice diversion for fans of the high fantasy. It’s probably even a lot of fun for readers of regular fiction as well.
Would it make a good comic? Though there’s plenty of fantasy in this book, large portions of “Lust Lizard” aren’t action oriented enough. Sure, there is action, but the plot isn’t necessarily driven by it. Instead, it’s driven by one reveal after another as we learn more about the beast.
Would it make a good movie? While “Lust Lizard” isn’t great comic book material, it would rock as a movie. Mixing dragons with comedy and a (slight) mystery story would really make for a fun flick. Played in a tongue-in-cheek manner, it would really create a memorable experience at the box office. Likewise, the huge cast of characters would create a lot of opportunities for a variety of stars.