“Lore” 53: Trees and Shadows

A. Quinton — Feb. 14th 2017

The latest episode of the excellent podcast Lore examines a cryptozoological phenomenon near and dear to the hearts of midwest werewolf fans: the Beast of Bray Road.

Our connection to animals is ancient, intimate, and complex. Humans have worshiped them, sacrificed them, lived with them, and been buried with them. But folklore from all over the world hints at a darker connection, and it just might be true.

In under 30 minutes, writer/producer Aaron Mahnke explores the facts and speculations surrounding multiple wolf-human-hybrid sightings near Elkhorn, Wisconsin, and the impact the sightings have had on the town – including local election campaigns and cookie production.

Lore covered werewolves more generally in its phenomenal third episode.

Full Moon Features: Ginger Snaps Back: The Beginning (2004)

Craig J. Clark — Feb. 10th 2017

The list of period werewolf films is pretty short to begin with. Due to the compound challenges of producing a period film and adding werewolves to it, the list of successful ones is even shorter. For every Curse of the Werewolf, there’s a Van Helsing. For every Company of Wolves, there’s a Werewolf: The Beast Among Us. Try as they might, the makers of 2004’s Ginger Snaps Back: The Beginning also fall short of the mark, but at least they’re able to rise above the level of, say, 1979’s Wolfman (admittedly, not the most difficult bar to clear and a film I intend to cover in this space in the near future).

Co-produced and directed by Grant Harvey, who previously served as second unit director on Ginger Snaps and also co-produced its sequel, Snaps Back is set in the winter of 1815 in the Canadian wilderness, in which sisters Ginger and Brigitte (Katharine Isabelle and Emily Perkins) are discovered wandering on horseback. How they came to be there is never adequately explained, but after they come across a ravaged Indian camp and meet an old seer who cryptically warns them to “kill the boy or one sister kills the other,” their horse gets spooked and gallops off, leaving them in a spot that is exacerbated when Brigitte steps in a trap meant for some other kind of animal. She’s helped out of it by an Indian named Hunter (Nathaniel Arcand) who tends to her wound and accompanies the sisters to a nearby fort — a remote outpost of the Northern Legion Trading Company — where they are a less-than-welcome presence because of the shortage of supplies (seems the crew that set out the previous spring never returned) and the supernatural threat from without that no one is eager to give a name to.

Inside the fort, the sisters are under the protection of Wallace (Tom McCamus), the man nominally in charge, but his second-in-command (JR Bourne) would just as soon throw them to the (were-)wolves, and the resident fire-and-brimstone preacher (Hugh Dillon) likewise urges Wallace to cast them out. That seems harsh, but if they had been, Ginger wouldn’t have been bitten by the deformed creature kept locked up in the basement (the aforementioned boy) and the fort’s dwindling population wouldn’t have fallen to her furry friends quite so speedily. It also would have prevented Harvey from displaying his fondness for time-lapse effects, which lose their novelty the more he uses them. Thankfully, the full-on werewolf attack that arrives at the film’s climax is worth sticking around for, but it does strike me as a case of too little, too late.

Pre-order “Moonlighters”, a comic about college-age werewolves for hire

A. Quinton — Jan. 31st 2017

Today Space Goat Productions announced their Backpack Edition line of 9″ x 6″ perfect-bound graphic novels with two new titles – Uncanny Valley High and Moonlighters. Guess which one is about werewolves?

Moonlighters features broke college-age werewolves taking supernatural odd jobs to pay the rent. Written by Katie Schenkel (writer at Comics Alliance, The Mary Sue, Panels, and the upcoming graphic novel The Cardboard Kingdom) and illustrated by Cal Moray (Monster Elementary). They are monster helpers for hire.

“I’m excited for the opportunity to build the world these characters exist in between the mundane and the supernatural,” said series illustrator Cal Moray. “But not gonna lie, I’m mostly excited to draw corgis.” Series writer Katie Schenkel said, “Writing these cute queer werewolves being friends and getting into shenanigans has been a dream so far. I really think Moonlighters is going to be special.”

Moonlighters #1 is available for pre-order on comiXology right now, with a digital release date of March 1st and a print release date of January 1st 2018. At first I thought that was pretty far away for a title launching a line distinguished by its physical dimensions, but then the rest of my brain engaged and I realized Schenkel and Moray probably want to do more than one single issue before Space Goat issues a graphic novel.

Moonlighters and Uncanny Valley High are geared towards younger audiences, but for werewolf fans with more mature preferences, recall that Space Goat is also working on an officially-licensed comic and board game (!?) set in the cinematic universe of the Howling franchise.

Help indie werewolf film “Betsy” raise a few bonus bucks for better blood and beasts

A. Quinton — Jan. 30th 2017

There are three days left to help nudge the Indiegogo campaign for Concept Media‘s indie werewolf movie “Betsy” across the finish line. Written by Shawn Burkett (who also directs) and Ayse Howard, the film boasts a great visual identity, a solid cast, and a… well, not a stunning plot, based on the synopsis, but you never know.

The story follows a young woman “Betsy/Kelci C. Magel” who survived a violent attack while leaving work [according to an older synopsis she’s an escort – AQ]. After a month Betsy has relocated to a new town with her friend “Kayte/Marylee Osborne”.

A new town. New friends. A fresh start. However, as the full moon gets closer something begins clawing it’s way into her new life.

The film’s core budget was covered by a prior crowdfunding effort; this campaign is looking to raise an extra $1,000 to help pay for better costumes, practical effects and cast/crew expenses. As of this post, they’ve raised $878. They’re not asking for a lot, and they plan to shoot in late February and get it into festivals by May, so they’re not wasting time, either. Check out the campaign and the Betsy Facebook page for more info.

Thanks to Michael P and Somnilux for the links!

“Open Mic Night”, a werewolf musician animatic by Kaili Myers

A. Quinton — Jan. 27th 2017

Here’s Open Mic Night by SCAD student Kaili Myers. This is an animatic (so expect scratch audio and camera movement arrows) depicting a guitar-slinging lady who works up the courage to get on stage, then puts on a performance much different than anyone was expecting.

I’m absolutely in love with this werewolf design. Kaili’s done great work here, and I look forward to seeing (and sharing) the final animation! Thanks to friend of the site @Somnilux for the link.

Third time’s the charm, hopefully! A new “Werewolf: The Apocalypse” video game is on the way

A. Quinton — Jan. 20th 2017

White Wolf rights-holders Paradox Interactive have just announced that they plan to release a game based on the World of Darkness roleplaying game Werewolf: The ApocalypseCyanide (Blood Bowl, Call of Cthulhu) will handle development, and Focus Home Interactive (Blood Bowl, Styx: Master of Shadows, Farming Simulator [!?]) will publish. The game will be available on PC and one or more as-of-yet unannounced consoles.

Things are still at the “corporate press release” stage, but a web siteTwitter account and Facebook page dedicated to the game have already popped up. Focus have said they will share more details at their “le What’s Next de Focus” event in Paris on February 1st and 2nd.

So far the reaction from the World of Darkness fan community has been a jittery mix of elation and scepticism. W:tA has a deep mythology and a lot of storylines and concepts from which to draw (as a certain film franchise is sort of proving). People have tried to mine this scene for video game gold twice before: a W:tA PC game was planned for a late 1999 / early 2000 release but the developer folded before it could be completed, and five years before that, Capcom was working on a PlayStation / Sega Saturn game that only ever surfaced as a prototype.

Can Cyanide and Focus succeed where others have failed, and deliver a Werewolf video game to satisfy fans who’ve been waiting all this time? One thing’s for sure: there’s no way for anyone to answer that question at all right now. You’ve waited over two decades; can you please be chill for, like, another twelve months? Eighteen, tops? Thank you.

From the Paradox Interactive press release:

White Wolf is pleased to announce its partnership with Paris-based video game publisher Focus Home Interactive for a licensed PC and console game set in the World of Darkness.

The partnership between Focus Home Interactive and White Wolf Publishing concerns the adaptation of a video game based on the acclaimed Werewolf: The Apocalypse. The game will be developed by the game development studio Cyanide (Styx: Master of Shadows, Blood Bowl, Call of Cthulhu…). In the game you will become a Garou, a rage-fuelled Werewolf warrior opposed to urban civilization and the destruction it brings. The Garou are born to fight the corruption of The Wyrm, a powerful supernatural force leading us towards an inevitable Apocalypse.

Thanks to @Somnilux for breaking the news to me, and to so many other folks on Twitter for providing additional details!

Portland & Vancouver (BC) plans for HOWL CON orphans on Feb 4th & 5th

A. Quinton — Jan. 19th 2017

If you were attending the now-defunct Howl Con in Portland, OR on Saturday February 4th and Sunday the 5th and now find yourself without a way to hang out with werewolf people, may I humbly present you with two alternatives.

These are informal and rely on the good graces of private businesses, so please be prepared for details to change.

In the Portland area:

Friend of the site Nodnash is proposing a drop-in werewolf hangout at Portland’s Sizzle Pie West (926 W Burnside St) on the evenings of the 4th and 5th. The 5th is Super Bowl Sunday, so it might be a little crowded, but there’s lots to do in the area. Specifics are still coming together, so follow Nodnash for the latest.

In the Vancouver, BC area:

On Saturday the 4th, starting at around 1PM, Tandye and I (plus a few people who’ve already RSVP’d) will be at lelem’ Arts & Cultural Cafe in Fort Langley. That’s about 45 minutes west of Vancouver proper. We’ll be there for the afternoon, hanging out with any other werewolfy people who show up, and who knows what the evening will bring?

The plan is to make it an art jam, so bring your art stuff if you have any, but we may have games and other stuff going on, too. The cafe is rad, with great food and lots of space to sit and chat, and there’s lots to see and explore in Fort Langley – it’s right on the Fraser River, with a beautiful riverwalk trail, forests, and cool shops. Come on out if you’re in the area! As with the Portland plan, the details are subject to change, so follow me on Twitter for any updates (or @ me if you have questions, need directions, are crossing a border, etc).

See you around, werewolf people!

Moody, gorgeous Batman: The Animated Series “Moon of the Wolf” poster by George Caltsoudas

A. Quinton — Jan. 16th 2017

George Caltsoudas is a graphic artist who spent nine months applying his bold and colourful vision to the creation of iconic posters for every episode of Batman: The Animated Series season 1. Not because he was commissioned by Warner Bros. Animation or DC, but because he just felt like it.

That’s sixty-five individual pieces of art, each one perfectly capturing the brooding, timeless Art Deco production design of the show.

A gallery of the whole collection flew by on my Twitter timeline and I dove in immediately, partly because B:TAS was one of my favourite shows growing up, and partly because I wanted to see what George put together for episode 43: “Moon of the Wolf”. I wasn’t disappointed! Check out the whole series (and a lot more great artwork) on George’s Tumblr.

League of Legends’s werewolf Warwick becomes “The Wrath of Zaun” & “a steampunk hyena” in update

A. Quinton — Jan. 15th 2017

From the “writing about games I’ve never played” department: Last week the League of Legends YouTube channel posted a teaser to announce an update to Warwick, body-snatcher and wolfman. This nasty steampunk-werewolf-lookin’ Champion has a bunch of new abilities, artwork and skins, which is good news for people already playing him, and even better news for people who weren’t playing him because his previous abilities, artwork and skins were bad. Bad for the purposes of the game, League of Legends.

In case the previous sentence didn’t make it clear, I don’t know anything about League of Legends. I learned that Warwick was a thing at all from this tweet, and the research I did to put together this post was so laden with insider terms like “meta”, “gank” and “jungling” that I developed a lot more empathy for my non-programmer friends who have to hear me talk about “Node”, “Sass-compiling” and “shadow DOMs”. If you’re a seasoned LoL player and you want to know how Warwick’s “newfound power allows him to clean up the streets of Zaun through brutal violence”, I suggest you check out this rundown on The Rift Herald or the official update page.

As an outsider looking in, what interests me most about this update (aside from the sudden appearance of artwork depicting this brick shit-house of a werewolf dressed in nana-jammies) is the level of thought that went into the mechanical and in-game reasoning for his updates, and the extent to which Riot explains it all on their site.

So what are our goals with the Warwick update? Currently Warwick is very beginner friendly. We actually want to embrace that and push it even further than it is now. We want Warwick’s gameplay to actually teach new junglers how to be an effective jungler. Right now Warwick can’t gank until level 6, but what if Warwick’s kit actually encouraged players to gank often and early? We also have heard loud and clear that player think Warwick’s kit is kind of boring and outdated. While we don’t want to raise Warwick’s skill floor, we do want to increase his skill ceiling a bit and add more depth to his gameplay. We also want to bring Warwick’s art and thematics up to modern Riot standards by giving him a proper place in our world. We think violence is an important theme for Warwick and we want to see how far we can push that thematic.

What I get from this is “we all heard Warwick was the boring character that newbies played, so we made him good again by emphasizing his capacity for violence and commissioning a bunch of kick-ass new art assets to show him off.” Riot, I may never play League of Legends, but I appreciate your honesty, and the results are a lot of fun to look at.

Here’s a selection of Warwick splash screens showing some of his new skins, and a final one showing his origin.


Full Moon Features: Ginger Snaps 2: Unleashed (2004)

Craig J. Clark — Jan. 11th 2017

It’s increasingly rare for a werewolf film to actually be out in theaters when the moon is full, but as the one that’s currently playing on 3070 screens across this great nation is Underworld: Blood Wars — and I gave myself permission to skip any further films in that dreary franchise after the last one — I have chosen to devote this month’s column to another, decidedly more worthy, werewolf movie sequel.

Released in 2004, Ginger Snaps 2: Unleashed came along four years after its Scream Factory-approved predecessor and found editor Brett Sullivan stepping into the director’s chair. It also sees surviving Fitzgerald sister Brigitte (Emily Perkins) barely keeping her nascent lycanthropy at bay while staying two steps ahead of a persistent male werewolf (dubbed The Beast in the closing credits) that’s looking to answer the call of the wild. On top of that, she’s periodically visited by the ghost of her dead sister Ginger (Katharine Isabelle), who may in fact only be a figment of her imagination. Either way, Ginger’s appearance generally signals that things are going south for Brigitte in one way or another, as they do early on when she winds up in a rehab facility and is denied the monkshood extract she’s been using to keep the beast within her in check.

The primary setting for the first half of the film, the hospital is where Brigitte runs afoul of administrator Alice (Janet Kidder), who works overtime to convince her charges she’s been where they are, and orderly Tyler (Eric Johnson), who takes advantage of the more vulnerable patients. It’s also where she makes the acquaintance of Ghost (future Orphan Black star Tatiana Maslany), a chirpy eight-year-old who seems to have the run of the place and arranges for the two of them to escape together. Their destination: Ghost’s grandmother’s off-the-grid cabin, where Brigitte finds out what it’s like to jump out of a frying pan and into the fire. Considering she’s gradually turning into a creature that’s covered in hair (a welcome design change from the first film), that’s obviously less than ideal.