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Book review: 'The Species of Blessing Avenue' by Graveyard Greg

Your rating: None Average: 2.9 (10 votes)

Cover artwork by Ninja V.The Species of Blessing Avenue is a collection of short stories by Graveyard Greg, published in 2012.

Even before I got past the introduction, I liked two things about this book. First, it's got a were-lion in its leading role. Second, it was inspired by characters created for the Buffy The Vampire Slayer RPG.

I was warned that I shouldn't have tried to read this as a novella instead of three short stories. I'll try to correct that mistake as I go along with this review.

Retrospective review: 'Dog Soldiers'

Your rating: None Average: 2.4 (5 votes)

dogsoldiers.jpgFirst of all, happy Halloween!

For our final foray into lycanthropic cinema, comes— a movie I saw as a Sci Fi Channel original movie. It never even had a theatrical release in America. I will point out that it is by far the greatest Sci Fi Channel original movie ever produced, but I need hardly point out that is not a big accomplishment.

But, sometimes, hidden in the terrible filler, something emerges from the shadows. Perhaps I waste my time watching bad Sci Fi movies, but they provided a baseline. It's harder to know when you've got a good werewolf movie if you've never seen a bad or even just indifferent werewolf movie. Of course, if you don't have the patience to sit through the bad (with or without the MST3K patter), you can just take my word for it.

Dog Soldiers is a gory blast.

Retrospective review: 'An American Werewolf in London'

Your rating: None Average: 2.3 (3 votes)

anamericanwerewolfinlondon.jpgOccasionally, there comes a pair of movies that share remarkably similar themes that come out together. Sometimes, as in Antz versus A Bug's Life, there's evidence that one of the movies was designed as a direct competitor to the other. More often than not, however, there's just something in the water. Just last year, Disney went out of its way to advertise how unique a movie Zootopia was for featuring a fully anthropomorphic animal world in the one year in the history of American feature animation where that was not a unique quality. These things just happen.

1981 was one of those years, featuring not one, but two werewolf movies utilizing cutting edge (for the time) makeup effects that also happened to be horror comedies as opposed to straight horror movies. The Howling came out first, but it was the scrappy underdog that went up against the real Hollywood juggernaut, An American Werewolf in London, written and directed by John Landis, an up and coming director who hung out with the likes of Steven Spielberg.

Though An American Werewolf in London is an acknowledged classic of the horror genre and features a ghoulish sense of humor (Landis was, and still is, best known for Animal House, early poster taglines noted this movie featured "a different kind of animal"), it is, like The Wolf Man, very much a tragedy. And not all the tragedy is on screen.

Retrospective review: 'The Howling'

Your rating: None Average: 2.8 (6 votes)

thehowling.jpgAs a kid, I was given many cheap Wal-Mart editions of the writings of children's author Thornton Burgess, including The Adventures of Old Man Coyote, which contained a back cover blurb that was given a header simply saying "The Howling".

I bring this up because the movie referenced not very appropriately by that children's novel back cover is, on one hand, overshadowed by a similar werewolf movie that came out the exact same year, but has still managed to find itself embedded into pop culture deep enough that it gets its own call outs. I'll be covering that more popular werewolf movie eventually, but of the two werewolf movies of 1981 (three if you count the sorta-werewolf movie Wolfen), The Howling is my favorite.

Of all the werewolf movies I plan on covering, it has the most obvious flaws. It, more than any other, is going to take a very forgiving attitude to dated special effects. At least The Wolf Man has its iconic status going for it. The Howling also features one really cheap jump scare early on, but, to be fair, it makes up for this with one of the most earned jump scares in horror movie history later on. And finally, one of the main reasons I really love it so much is also something people can find annoying.

It's a postmodern werewolf movie. The rules of the werewolf movie have been codified. Now it's time to start playing with them.

Retrospective review: 'The Wolf Man'

Your rating: None Average: 3 (4 votes)

thewolfman.jpgIt's October, and that means Halloween.

To celebrate that fact, I'd like to offer a series of reviews on various werewolf movies.

Werewolves are the closest the worlds of furry and horror brush the closest to each other, though they may have more in common than they seem.

Both furry and horror deal with things of dual natures. Furry explores the line between what we mean when we say "human", and what we mean when we say "animal". The werewolf movie, more than any other sub-type of horror movie (or horror story), explores this same trope, and not just the difference between "wolf" and "man".

Our first stop in this tour of wolf-men is the obvious one, 1941's The Wolf Man, written by Curt Siodmak and starring Lon Chaney, Jr. as Lawrence "Larry" Talbot, a.k.a. the Wolf Man.

Review: 'Corpus Lupus', by John K. Smith

Your rating: None Average: 3.3 (3 votes)

30300363.jpgThis book is actually a collection of three novellas about your worst nightmare: A WEREWOLF WITH A BADGE.

OK, I know for some of you (me included), the image that first comes to mind might be more erotic than horrific... but I assure you that your ride along is going to take you into some deeply, darkly, disturbing places.

Highridge is a cop that became a werewolf in an Urban Fantasy Setting where lycanthropes have a subculture and are an accepted part of modern society. And the revelation of their existence is no recent thing.

As is often the case when the werewolves are (mostly) good guys, there are worse things out there than wolfmen.

Legion Printing and Publishing, 2010, ebook $2.66 (194 pages).

He’ll Sniff Out the Clues

Well this is perhaps something different… Fables: The Wolf Among Us is a comic book based on a video game based on a comic book. It’s . “Even before the first issue of Fables, there were stories to be told, shadowy avenues to explore, and lives hanging in the balance! Bigby Wolf has seen plenty in his time as Sheriff of Fabletown…but nothing can prepare him for this… It all starts with a simple domestic disturbance. But when Bigby learns that his old nemesis, the Woodsman who has an axe to grind, is part of the scene, things go downhill fast. And how will Bigby and Snow White keep their heads long enough to crack the case when they get caught up in a grisly murder mystery? Vertigo’s first-ever digital-first series, Fables: The Wolf Among Us is a gripping adaptation and expansion of the smash-hit video game from Telltale Games, and an official prequel to Bill Willingham’s bestselling Fables! Written by Fables alum Matthew Sturges (Jack of Fables) and Dave Justus (House of Mystery), with art by Stephen Sadowski (JSA), Shawn McManus (Fables / Fairest), and Travis Moore (JSA All Stars)!” You might also recall that the game was nominated for an Ursa Major Award. The first full-color issue of the comic book series comes to stores this January.

Review: 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' Mutagen Mayhem DVD

Your rating: None Average: 5 (1 vote)

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Mutagen Mayhem DVDNow that we’ve finished up with season 1 of the NickToons Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon, it’s time to start on season 2, the first six episodes of which are collected in the “Mutagen Mayhem” DVD.

For the first time, we meet new old characters like Casey Jones (who begins appearing in the credits from the first episode of this season) and Rahzar (who is new and old in two different ways) as well as new new characters, like the Squirrelanoids (which are seriously the greatest squirrel based mutants since Doreen “Squirrel Girl” Green).

Oh, and the turtles have finished with Space Heroes and have discovered anime in the form of Super Robo Mecha Force Five!, a brutal parody of old school sentai shows like Voltron and Battle of the Planets/G-Force/Gatchaman. Depending on your knowledge and nostalgia level for those old shows, these are either brilliant or just plain mean. Or both.

All in all, the second season of this incarnation of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is off to a rollicking start.

One Bad Werewolf

This month, Image Comics brings us the first trade paperback collection of Bad Dog, titled Volume 1: In the Land of Milk and Money. “Two bounty hunters, an angst-ridden werewolf and his deviant partner, stumble through the southwest in search of cash, booze, and the meaning of life. Mostly, they find booze.” Bringing together issues #1 through #6 of this full-color series by writer Joe Kelly and artist Diego Greco, Milk and Money is available now at Comic Book Round Up.

image c. 2014 Image Comics

image c. 2014 Image Comics

Dogs (and Cats) vs. Dark Powers

In 2005 Evan Dorkin (writer) and Jill Thompson (artist) won an Eisner Award for their original comic book series Beasts of Burden, about a haunted small town and the local dogs and cats who do nightly battle with the deadly forces of evil trying to invade.  Now comes the brand-new Beasts of Burden: Hunters and Gatherers, a one-shot full-color comic designed to introduce new readers to the animals of Burden Hill and their struggles. This time around, our furry heroes discover that a friendly half-werewolf might just be more help than they bargained for. Hunters and Gatherers will be available at comic book stores this March, from Dark Horse Press.


image c. 2014 Dark Horse Press

Werewolf game 'Guise of the Wolf' released

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'Guise of the Wolf' cover Werewolves have been in the news quite a bit, what with Demi Moore and Madonna allegedly following the "Werewolf Diet", and the BBC reporting on werewolves who want to go running on the moors.

And it's not long since January 24, when the first-persion Gothic action-adventure game Guise of the Wolf was released on Steam.

Review: 'Le Bois des Vierges', by Jean Dufaux and Béatrice Tillier

Your rating: None Average: 4 (5 votes)

Front cover of the R. Laffont edition Le Bois des Vierges (The Virgins' Woods) is a French comic set in a medieval half-human, half-anthropomorphic world. It was released in three volumes between 2008 and 2013, written by Jean Dufaux and illustrated by Béatrice Tillier. Originally published by Robert Laffont (who then dropped their comics division), it was picked up by a second publisher, Delcourt, who re-released the first volume with a different cover. I reviewed the first book for Anthrozine.

To be honest, this won't appeal to most North American furry fans, for several reasons. Not only is it in French, the wording is deliberately archaic, though not quite bordering on the Shakespearian. The human characters are the main focus, and the story isn't especially creative with the anthropomorphic ones. Oh, and good luck finding the set for under $75, not including shipping.

The main conflict in the story involves speciesism between four groups. The "tall beasts" (mainly wolves), the "short beasts" (including foxes), the humans, and the hybrids. The foxes and wolves are digitigrade and humanoid, but they consider themselves beasts. All the animal-people don't like humans very much, and the feeling is mutual. The tall beasts also hold the short beasts in contempt, and everyone hates the hybrids.

Review: 'Wereworld: War of the Werelords', by Curtis Jobling

Your rating: None Average: 4.5 (6 votes)

Wereworld: War of the Werelords It’s over! This is Book 6 and the conclusion of Jobling’s Wereworld series, which began with Wereworld: Rise of the Wolf, and continued through Rage of Lions, Shadow of the Hawk, Nest of Serpents, and Storm of Sharks.

The Wereworld Young Adult series is set on the island-continent of Lyssia on a fantasy world, in which each of the kingdoms and their dutchies, counties, and baronies are ruled by a Werelord who can transform into an animal, including birds and fish. School Library Journal has called the series “Game of Thrones for the tween set”.

It could also be called the Lyssian civil war saga. The island-continent of Lyssia is divided into seven kingdoms (see Jobling’s map), often called the Seven Realms, dominated by Westland which was ruled by the wolflords.

A generation before the series began, King Wergar of Westland was murdered and the dynasty of the wolves was overthrown by the lionlords, whose leader, Lionel, became the new King of Westland and began exterminating the wolflords. The other six realms of Lyssia, each ruled by a different werelord dynasty – bears, boars, and others – grumbled but accepted the new order.

The Penguin Group/Viking, October 2013, hardcover $16.99 (xvii + 503 pages; map by the author), Kindle $9.78.

Werewolves in the Big City

How did we miss this one? [Or did we? We lose track!] “Remember the werewolves of classic stories and films, those bloodthirsty monsters that transformed under the full moon, reminding us of the terrible nature that lives within all of us? Today’s werewolves are much more suave – and even sexy – and they’ve moved from British moors to New York City lofts, shaved, and got jobs. But as the tales of these writers will show you, they remain no less wild and passionate, and they still tug at the part of our being where a wild animal used to be. Running With the Pack includes stories from Carrie Vaughn, Laura Anne Gilman, and C.E. Murphy [and more...] and they will convince you that despite their gentrification, werewolves remain as fascinating and terrifying as ever.” Running With the Pack is edited by Ekaterina Sedia, and available in trade paperback. Check out the detailed review at Prime Books, the publisher.


image c. 2013 Prime Books

 

The Path of Lycanthropes

The FRP game Pathfinder slowly works its way a little more furry with the new Pathfinder Player Companion: Blood of the Moon. “Channel the power of the moon and turn the curse of lycanthropy into a potent blessing. Whether you were born with traces of bestial blood from a lycanthropic ancestor or you were bitten by a werewolf and have transformed into one completely, this volume contains everything you need to embrace the beast within and become a fearsome weapon against your enemies. Become a protector of the natural world as a scion of a werebear, revel in bloodshed with the wolf fighting style created by your ancestors, or find your calling in the witch practices of your werecrocodile forerunners. Even if you do not take directly after these bestial horrors of the night, there is much to learn from associating with them—as either ally or hunter. The choice is yours.” Sounds like several species are involved already! Visit the Paizo.com site to find out more about this new softcover volume, loaded with full-color illustrations.


image c. 2013 Paizo