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.
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.
Feb 4th+5th evenings! SizzlePie West! Werewolf meetup, art jam, and shenanigans! Pizza! Beer! Roaming! Hunting of man! Consumption of flesh!
— The Ugly Werewolf (@nodnash) January 19, 2017
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!
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.
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.
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.
A. Quinton — Jan. 11th 2017
Update 2017-01-19: multiple reliable sources are indicating that the host hotel, Ramada Portland, is cancelling the convention’s reservation due to lack of communication with the organizer. I’m calling it: HOWL CON is off. I’m not going to edit the optimism out of this post, but if you booked flights or made other travel arrangements that you can’t cancel, maybe start looking at other things you want to do in the area.
I’ve been an enthusiastic proponent of Portland-area werewolf convention HOWL CON. I was a presenter in 2015 and had the time of my life. I wanted to go again in 2016, but through a combination of bad luck and disorganization, the event was cancelled three weeks before the big weekend.
Now HOWL CON 2017 is less than a month away, and once again the event has no announced guests, no programming schedule, and no buzz or recent organizer activity of any kind. It hasn’t been marketed anywhere other than two fan sites – my site, and PDXwerewolf.com. Its web site disappeared in May 2016. Contributors to its Indiegogo crowdfunding effort have not received any communications since the campaign ended in September.
It’s reasonable to assume that HOWL CON is still happening. In November, organizers were reassuring worried would-be attendees that the show would go on. Apparently the space has been paid for, or at least a deposit placed. If you dig through their Facebook page you can still find links to buy passes and submit applications to be a dealer or a presenter. You can even book a cheap hotel room. And if you do show up at the Ramada Portland Airport Hotel on February 4th or 5th, there might be other werewolf fans there.
I won’t be among them. Given the complete mystery surrounding “what the actual convention is, or will be, or will have for us to do”, I can’t justify the time off work, or the travel, food and lodging expenses. If you go, may my $150 “Attending Patron” pledge to the Indiegogo campaign help fund your enjoyment – especially if you’re going because you learned about the event from me. If we had plans to meet, please accept my apologies. Maybe we can catch up at West Coast Haunters.
I don’t know what’s happened with HOWL CON. The organizers have been running a steampunk convention with ostensible success for seven years now, so they’re not incompetent and they’re not crooks. Are they too busy to run two conventions per year? Are there extenuating circumstances? It doesn’t matter. It’s not okay to run an event this way, and I won’t give HOWL CON the benefit of the doubt any more.
A. Quinton — Jan. 10th 2017
When someone mentions Captain America, the first thought that occurs to me is not “he’s been a werewolf at least twice“, and that’s coming from a person whose brain is calibrated to play “six degrees of lycanthropic separation” with all input. And yet in its 2016 Legends “Red Skull Build-a-Figure” group of action figures, Marvel has chosen to package its most patriotic Avenger with an alternate head depicting his “Capwolf” mode.
I thought it was strange that they would acknowledge such an obscure edge-case for a prominent character’s appearance until I saw that this is the 16th time Captain America has appeared as a Marvel Legends figure. I guess there’s only so many variants of costumes and battle damage you can pitch before you have to start searching the supernatural corners of a character’s history.
In addition to the werewolf head, this figure comes with Cap’s shield, two alternate hands (one for pointing and one for… dabbing?) and the cape for the Build-a-Figure Red Skull / Red Onslaught figure.
This figure has only been out for a few months, so comic shops and even big-box retailers should still have it. As usual, you can snag it on Amazon, too. Thank you to Somnilux and wereshere for the heads up!
A. Quinton — Jan. 9th 2017
Dances With Werewolves is a feature-length film made on a music video budget by a dedicated schlockmeister whose recent writing credits include titles like “Countess Dracula’s Orgy of Blood” and “The Mummy’s Kiss: 2nd Dynasty”. Its main selling point: it’s the last screen role of Angus Scrimm, the guy who played The Tall Man in Phantasm. I thought I kept my expectations sufficiently low going into the trailer, but they deployed that howl sound effect (you know the one) in the first three seconds, and things got worse from there. By the end I felt a lot like this promo photo of Scrimm.
If you want to watch this, cool, I guess: Bloody Disgusting says Santa Fe’s Jean Cocteau Cinema will screen it on January 27th. I’d rather watch this other film by the same name, though, if it ever gets out of development hell.
A. Quinton — Jan. 8th 2017
Issue 3 of indie werewolf comic Howl has just come out in physical and digital formats. The creators were kind enough to send me a review copy, which I consumed like a hot dog: with relish, and disappointment that there aren’t more.
Nearly halfway into its projected seven-issue run, Howl has firmly established itself as a showcase for writers Ryan Davidson & Eastin Deverna and artist Dan Buksa. The first two issues (which I discuss over here) are driven by action and an impending full moon. This issue is more of a police procedural, as we follow the authorities who are trying to make sense of (and find the culprit responsible for) the carnage wrought by series protagonist Jack Lowe. Jack’s wife Rebecca and high school student Laura make the big decisions in this issue, setting up potential consequences that they and their families will have to pay for in future issues.
For now, there’s a lot of cop-talk in front yards, Jack himself spends most of the issue passed out, and with the full moon done for another month there’s nary a werewolf to be seen. In the hands of less efficient writers, these plot points could lead to boring exposition and frustration as the cops try to figure out what the readers already know, but the great dialogue and believable rapport between characters keeps things lively and manages some subtle world-building (the best kind, in my opinion).
Buksa’s art has gotten a little cleaner and tighter in this issue, but it still has the organic, high-contrast pen-and-ink style that made the first two issues so distinctive and fun to look at. I don’t know what his process is, but I could believe he turns each page from a blank document into a finished, inked panel layout with no in-between steps or drafts. It’s confident, charismatic work, and I couldn’t imagine this series drawn any other way.
If you want to get into Howl, head over to the Howl store to get caught up on the series. Davidson, Deverna and Buksa are doing excellent work, and I encourage you to support them and share your comments on the Howl Facebook and Twitter accounts.
A. Quinton — Jan. 5th 2017
Sold me on the clip, that is. I still don’t want to see Blood Wars.
A. Quinton — Jan. 2nd 2017
New Orleans musician Birch “Buzz” MacKinlay used to think she was the only werewolf in the world. But that was before the mysterious and captivating Rowan welcomed her into his pack, and showed her that shapeshifters – all kinds of shapeshifters – were hiding in plain sight everywhere. Now Birch is on a crash course by day to learn everything she can about the secret “shifter” world, while gigging as a bass player at night. But there’s a problem with this dream come true: a dark and growing danger threatens the shifters, who are beginning to mysteriously disappear or die. Faced with hecklers, drunks, stalkers, and incompetent bandmates in one life and fang-toothed double agents in the other, Birch doesn’t know who to trust – especially now that she’s the target of a powerful enemy. With menace closing in fast, Birch must find a way to save her new pack… or lose everything that matters, including her own life.
The excerpt on Patterson’s web site piqued my interest. I kept wanting to think “this isn’t my thing” as I read – the rhythm of the prose is a little strange in places, and Birch’s werewolf form is literally “a large wolf”, which you all know isn’t really my thing. What hooked me, though, and kept me thinking about this book for the past few weeks, is how Patterson writes about music.
She’s an accomplished musician, and from the first paragraph of The Wild Harmonic it’s clear that her experiences performing (and being moved by) music form an integral and exuberant part of the narrative. I’m not crazy about urban fantasy or quadrupedal werewolves, but give me a story in which the author writes with enthusiasm about something she loves and does well, and you’ve got me on board.