A. Quinton — May. 25th 2017
The Star Wars werewolf connection hinges entirely on special effects legend Rick Baker deciding to use some of his off-the-shelf creature masks during re-shoots of the Episode IV cantina scene in 1977. Among those masks was a werewolf Baker had created on his own in 1973. As with seemingly everyone else in that cantina, the werewolf extra gained an official name – Lak Sivrak – and an elaborate backstory full of intrigue, romance, tragedy, sacrifice, most of which was told through Star Wars comic books.
Then in 2012, Disney consigned everything about the character except his name and species to Legends, the phantom zone for all retroactively non-canonical Star Wars artifacts. And that was it for poor Lak until earlier this week, when Baker set about re-casting a new mask from that original 1973 mold.
He posted four photos of his work – which I’ve embedded below – on his Instagram feed. The quality of his design and work is astonishing, and consider that he did all of this in three days.
The hashtags and reminiscences in Baker’s comments make this seem like an observance of the film’s release anniversary – Star Wars hit theatres 40 years ago today –but it could also be a coincidence. Baker seems like the kind of person who’d resurrect a 43-year-old mold and then and pour, pull, paint, hair and trim a new mask on a lark – simply because he loves doing this sort of thing (and happens to be really, really, really fucking good at it).
A. Quinton — May. 24th 2017
How do you write a worthy sequel to a (cult) classic werewolf movie that spawned a rogues gallery of generally putrid follow-ups? In the first issue of the officially licensed The Howling: Revenge of the Werewolf Queen comic series from Space Goat, writer Micky Neilson (no stranger to werewolf stories) doubles down on all the things that made The Howling a werewolf icon: creeping dread, brutal gore, characters making implausible but entertaining decisions, and multiple full-frontal werewolf transformations. The result is an experience so satisfying that it simultaneously redeems and obviates the seven other films in the series. This is the new Howling canon.
Werewolf Queen picks up just a few weeks after TV reporter Karen White’s dramatic revelation at the conclusion of The Howling. The first issue divides its time between Karen’s colleague Chris Halloran, who’s charged with murder, out on bail and having a hard time sleeping – and the titular werewolf queen Marsha Quist, who escaped the Colony with at least a few of her werewolf “brothers” and is now on the hunt for a valuable artifact.
Neilson’s script cleverly recaps the film’s conclusion for newcomers (and the forgetful) by serving it as part of Chris’s sweaty apartment-bound paranoia and confusion. The general public is either skeptical of or indifferent to the newly-revealed existence of werewolves, but Chris knows they’re dangerously real. He’d be happy to discuss the subject with the police or his KDHB co-workers, if only they would stop dying mysteriously.
Marsha, meanwhile, pays a visit to Vera, an antiques dealer whose stodgy outfit and shitty attitude made her my instant Comic Book Avatar of 2017. Vera deals in more than just antiques, and Marsha has some uncomfortable questions about one of these illicit transactions. This leads to a chase scene, a lovingly-rendered werewolf transformation and an accompanying monologue that all add up to pure horror cheese.
It’s good, the cheese. It’s very good. The last few pages of the issue would border on satirical nonsense both in setting and in content if it weren’t for the fact that it’s all so fucking fun. Any horror fan could look at the setup and predict the conclusion, right down to the jump scares, and what makes that such a delight is that Neilson and artist Jason Johnson know you know what’s going on.
They’ve been given a chance to revive a languishing franchise, and they’re already laying the groundwork for a direction that doesn’t involve Christopher Lee selling bad dialogue or werewolf castle orgies, but first they’re going to take a little detour through a literal horror funhouse. That’s what you came for, isn’t it? Arcane McGuffins, dress-shredding wolf-outs, snub-nosed revolvers, rotary telephones, gratuitous beheadings and all the best fashion of 1981? This stuff is a blast, and it’s this sense of smirking dangerous fun that makes this issue (and hopefully the rest of the series) work so well.
Available through comiXology right now and in print on May 31st.
THE HOWLING: REVENGE OF THE WEREWOLF QUEEN #1 (of 4)
UPC: 711099797381 00111 (Covers A & B)
UPC: 711099797381 00121 (Cover C)
UPC: 711099797381 00131 (Cover D)
Writer: Micky Neilson
Art: Jason Johnson (A), Milen Parvanov (C)
Letterer: Taylor Esposito
Cover: Kevin West (A), Yvel Guichet (A, C), Carlos Eduardo (A), Chris Summers (B), Anton Kokarev (B), Bill Sienkeiwicz (D)
A. Quinton — May. 20th 2017
The weather’s nice now, and the sudden increase in hollering kids in the park behind my house has got me thinking about the kind of nurturing and instruction required to keep children from turning into actual, literal monsters. Illustrator Amethyst Tagney has created a book on that very subject, beautifully illustrated and perfect for the tiny demon in your life.
It’s Tough Being a Werewolf
The first day of school evokes an array of emotions depending on the person. Some feel excited, some feel nervous, some may feel nothing at all. However, if you are a werewolf, it can be downright tough. It’s Tough Being a Werewolf is centered on a young werewolf named Wally during his first day of Monster School. Although excited, Wally’s nerves soon get the best of him as he focuses more and more on the other monster children’s abilities rather than his own. Through my story, I want to communicate to children and to the people reading to them that each one of us has our own abilities and strengths we can lean on. These abilities do not make us any better or worse, but gives us the uniqueness that make us special in our on way. It can be hard to realize our potential when surrounded by people we think are more talented than us. However, it is through our differences that we complement one another and build each other up as well as ourselves, making life easier and less scary to navigate. So, no matter if you are a werewolf, a vampire, a ghost, or a yeti, there is something in all of us that make us awooooo-some!
A. Quinton — May. 19th 2017
Good: Funko made a vinyl Pop! werewolf figure that isn’t based on a dull or safe-for-network-TV design. The Fruit Brute Pop combines three of my favourite things: an excellent werewolf design, a retro mascot, and nostalgia for the weirdly-branded food of the early 1980s. The fangs, the spoon, the stripy complementary colour coveralls – this one would sit front and center on my desk.
Bad: Funko boxed the Fruit Brute in with another cereal mascot, Yummy Mummy, then deigned to make only 2,500 of the sets. They sold out pretty much instantly. If you want one you’ll have to scour eBay and pay some “””collector””” a massive markup.
Details and photo via Bloody Disgusting since the Funko product page is now just a 404. You did it bad, Funko. You did a bad job.
A. Quinton — May. 18th 2017
Thanks to JD for (retweeting?) the link (I think?)!
A. Quinton — May. 17th 2017
The Flop House is a great podcast about bad movies. Its hosts – Dan McCoy, Elliott Kalan and Stuart Wellington – are award-winning writers, comedians and hamburger-likers who have the kind of chemistry that makes anything they do simultaneously inscrutable and entrancing to the uninitiated. Ten minutes into your first episode you’ll be frustrated by the in-jokes you don’t get, and by the end of the episode you’ll be so charmed and delighted that you’ll likely start through the 230+ episode back catalogue to learn the origins of those in-jokes.
They are the Good Boys of Podcasting – rivalled only in their Goodness by another trio of Podcasting Boys – but they’re also Good Comic Book Boys too. Elliott has written for Marvel, and Dan and Stuart have each written a one-off Flop House comic, the proceeds of which are donated to the American Civil Liberties Union (“Flop House Comics: Dumb Stuff For a Good Cause”).
The second Flop House Comic, “A Hairy Night In Wolfsburg“, came out last week, and guess what it’s about? This werewolfy tale-within-a-tale was written by Stuart Wellington, drawn by Jacob Edgar, coloured by Dearbhla Kelly & lettered by Simon Bowland. It involves mistaken identity, werewolf rituals, hasty makeup, and the fact that Alexia and Olga have exactly the same colour pelt. You don’t need to have any knowledge of the Flop House to enjoy it, although my read-through was enhanced by my hearing all of the character’s dialogue in the voices of the Flop House guys.
The issue is available in a variety of formats by donation, with amounts ranging from $1 to $50 USD, and (much like a little magazine I just published) the money is going to a good cause: “All proceeds for this dumb comic are going to the American Civil Liberties Union”. Even if you’re not into podcasts, this is a good comic to check out!
A. Quinton — May. 15th 2017
It’s always a pleasure to write about a Werewolf News sponsor, and never more than when the sponsorship concerns a new publication by someone whose work I already enjoy. In this case, I’d like to thank Fox Spirit Books for sponsoring Werewolf News with Joyce Chng‘s marvellous sci-fi werewolf space opera novel Starfang: Rise of the Clan.
Is a clan captain going to sacrifice everything for her clan? Tasked to kill Yeung Leung by her parents, powerful rival clan leader of the Amber Eyes, Captain Francesca Min Yue sets out across the galaxy to hunt her prey, only to be thrown into a web of political intrigue spreading across the stars. Is Yeung Leung collaborating with the reptilian shishini and playing a bigger game with the galaxy as a price? Is Francesca’s clan at stake? Welcome to Starfang: Rise of the Clan, where merchants and starship captains are also wolves.
“Wolves should not be in space, but here we were, a clan of wolves and merchants. Instead of the preserved forests of New Earth and Noah’s Ark, we were in ships of steel and armor, reading data scans and commanding officers on the bridge. Wolves within the uniform of merchants and mercenaries, human seeming, claws and teeth sheathed.”
– Captain Francesca Ming Yue, of the warship Starfang.
Starfang: Rise of the Clan is available for purchase in a variety of formats through the following channels:
Once you’ve read Rise of the Clan, I recommend you check out Homecoming, an excerpt from the second book in the Starfang series (so yes, it contains spoilers for Rise of the Clan). You can read it on her web site or as a stand-alone story in the “space” issue of zine I edit, WEREWOLVES VERSUS. It was my introduction to Joyce’s wonderful prose and the elegant, sombre world of the Starfang series.
A. Quinton — May. 12th 2017
Continuing its mission to release every 1980’s film – no matter how cult or cheesy – as a super-deluxe Blu-ray, Shout! Factory is now taking pre-orders for collector’s editions of Teen Wolf and Teen Wolf Too. They’ll be released August 8th in the United States and Canada and can be ordered directly from Shout! Factory or through Amazon (TW, TWT).
No on-disc extras have been announced yet, but Shout! Factory is known for developing extravagant bonus content for their re-releases, so I have high hopes. They’re setting the bar high with these two new lovingly-painted covers. I’m not sure who the artist is – I see the initials PS – but they crushed it, especially that Michael J. Fox version.
Edit: commenter Sykes let me know that the artist is Paul Shipper.
May is the month of werewolf cakes! Check out this prize-winning “American Werewolf in London” creation
A. Quinton — May. 11th 2017
Werewolf News reader Jacob Bellingham shared a photo he took (and a link to a Dread Central article about) this prize-winning An American Werewolf In London-themed cake. Created by Karen Mitchell of Sugarlicious Cakes by Karen, it won a silver medal in the Decorative Exhibit category of the 2017 Cake International competition in London in April.
The level of detail on this thing is incredible, from the bloodwork to the details on the box. Check out the Sugarlicious photo gallery for more, including some close-ups.
Jacob’s family runs Little Brown Fairy Cake, who took home a Bronze in the same competition with the excellent Penguin cake pictured below. Despite looking like one of the least-tasty DC villains, it’s all edible, even the monocle. I told Jacob this in confidence but I think I’m a big enough person to admit it to the world, regardless of what it might do to my werewolf fan credibility: the David Kessler cake is impressive, but I kind of prefer the Penguin cake. What can I say? I like the prospect of eating Danny DeVito’s head, and of course, I didn’t have to travel to London to see (or eat) the best werewolf cake ever – it was right here in my kitchen in 2012.
Craig J. Clark — May. 10th 2017
As the foremost authority on werewolf movies ’round these parts, it naturally fell to me to review Bryan Senn’s The Werewolf Filmography, the first attempt at a comprehensive overview of the subject since Stephen Jones published The Illustrated Werewolf Movie Guide back in 1996. (Senn dismisses Jones’s book in his introduction, claiming “its brevity and haphazardness makes it far from definitive and of limited use,” but it’s still worth tracking down and hanging onto for its generous sampling of photos, posters, and lobby cards, many of them in color.) Where Jones muddies the waters by including any and all films in which someone is transformed into an animal — resulting in annoyances like every filmed version of Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake ballet getting a capsule review — Senn’s bent is more lycan-centric. In fact, of the “300+ Movies” trumpeted in the book’s subtitle, only 158 are covered in the main section, with the rest being relegated to the chapters on “Pseudowolves” (a slippery designation that feels arbitrary at times) and “Other Were-Beasts” (a less crowded and more self-explanatory field).
In his introduction, Senn cuts right to the heart of the matter. “Why write a book on werewolf cinema,” he reasonably asks, “if the majority of the films are, shall we say, less than classic?” The answer, of course, is to highlight the good and the great while steering people away from the bad and “the howlingly ugly.” To this end, Senn employs a five-moon rating system (similar to the one used by Jones, albeit without the fancy graphics) that isn’t nearly so bottom-heavy as one might expect based on the genre’s track record. True, it’s possible to count the five-moon movies on one claw (for the record, they are The Wolf Man, The Howling, An American Werewolf in London, Dog Soldiers, and Game of Werewolves), and there are only two that get four-and-a-half (Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein and Ginger Snaps), but those are neatly balanced out by the four half-moon movies and the three turkeys that come away with zero. (Happily, I have not seen any of the latter, and based on Senn’s recommendation, will continue to avoid them.) That leaves the majority in the one-to-four-moon range, with a fairly even distribution reflecting the range in quality therein.
To be fair, Senn tosses more than a few curve balls into the works. While he takes Hammer’s The Curse of the Werewolf down a peg with a two-and-a-half-moon review, questioning its “classic” status in the process, he doles out four moons to the likes of Silver Bullet, the 2011 Red Riding Hood, and Wolves, none of which impressed me that much when I saw them. He does, on the other hand, recognize that Rise of the Lycans is the best entry in the Underworld series, and is unafraid to call out dreck like Night Shadow, The Rats Are Coming! The Werewolves Are Here!, Red: Werewolf Hunter, and Teen Wolf Too. That last write-up contains one of several typos that managed to sneak past Senn’s editor, though, when star Jason Bateman is accidentally called “Justin.” (See also: the “Pseudowolf” entry on The Brothers Grimm, which misspells Peter Stormare’s name twice before getting it right in the very next paragraph.) Most damning of all, though, is the way the back cover lists the wrong year (2011) for Dog Soldiers, an error compounded by its inclusion in McFarland’s online listing for the book.
Other idiosyncracies abound. While it’s understandable that Senn would want to partition off films where werewolves only appear in supporting roles or, say, a single segment of an omnibus film, relegating Paul Naschy’s The Beast and the Magic Sword and Licántropo and other Spanish-language werewolf films to the “Pseudowolves” chapter merely because they never received an official release in the U.S. seems short-sighted, especially since Senn’s write-ups for them are often as long and detailed as his “full-fledged” werewolf film reviews. He’s also heavily reliant on quotes from the filmmakers — many of them culled from other sources, although some hail from interviews Senn personally conducted — and given to repeating himself to pad the entries out. And while it’s nice to have an appendix listing the films in chronological order (since the text arranges them alphabetically), it would have been nice to have another one that breaks them down by rating for easy reference.
With its hefty $55 price tag and sturdy hardback binding, The Werewolf Filmography is an impressive, if imperfect, addition to McFarland’s stable of horror reference books, and can be ordered directly from the publisher (www.mcfarlandpub.com, 800-253-2187) [or Amazon – ed.]. It won’t take long for it to go out of date, though, since, as Senn points out in his introduction, more than half of the werewolf films he covers have been produced since the turn of the millennium, with more being churned out all the time. Some of them may turn out to be winners (I’ve got high hopes for Another WolfCop, to give one example), but lycan-lovers will always need help separating the wheat from the chaff. With luck, a second edition where Senn does just that won’t be long in coming.