Welcome to the third  page of our ongoing romp through the Irish bestiary. I hope you’re enjoying it as much as Necromancer. If you’re unfamiliar with the Dullahan featured in today’s comic, trust me when I say that this eldritch horror is 100% worth the fangirling. Just check out his wiki description:

The Dullahan is depicted as a Headless Horseman, on a black horse, who carries his own head held high in his hand. The mouth is usually in a hideous grin that touches both sides of the head. Its eyes are constantly moving about and can see across the countryside even during the darkest nights. The flesh of the head is said to have the colour and consistency of mouldy cheese. The Dullahan is believed to use the spine of a human corpse for a whip, and its wagon is adorned with funeral objects: it has candles in skulls to light the way, the spokes of the wheels are made from thigh bones, and the wagon’s covering is made from a worm-chewed pall or dried human skin.

I don’t know about you guys, but if I’m playing a death wizard I want this guy on my team. At the very least I want to go to his doom metal concert.

The undeniably cool aesthetic is part of the reason for the critter’s international appeal. The Dullahan belongs to the same headless horseman tradition as Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” and any number of Japanese anime and video games. Grabbing bits of myth and stitching together your own monster is part of the fun of fantasy, but it doesn’t stop at reattaching a severed head.

As myths travel, they have a way of transforming and reincorporating into local mythology. It’s why we have the veela in Harry Potter, the bizarre dark elves from God of War, and even Tolkien’s particular take on dwarves. When you hit upon the right mix of mythological flavor and newly invented detail, you wind up evoking real world histories, but made strange and new for the sake of your own tale. 

So for today’s discussion, why don’t we share our own favorite reinventions? Why are your elves different? What makes your dragons unique? Do you have a dullahan behind the wheel of a jet-black Cadillac, idling in the alleyways of your own original pseudo-Gilded Age aetherpunk metropolis? Whatever your borrowed critter, tell us all about ’em down in the comments!


ADD SOME NSFW TO YOUR FANTASY! If you’ve ever been curious about that Handbook of Erotic Fantasy banner down at the bottom of the page, then you should check out the “Quest Giver” reward level over on The Handbook of Heroes Patreon. Thrice a month you’ll get to see what the Handbook cast get up to when the lights go out. Adults only, 18+ years of age, etc. etc.