More Howls From Werewolf!!

Posted by on August 28th, 2010 at 5:20 AM

Rob reviews the second volume of the Werewolf!! anthology, compiled by an assortment of students and alumni from the Center for Cartoon Studies.

The first volume of the Werewolf! anthology was one of the more consistently entertaining efforts from students and alumni of the Center For Cartoon Studies.  The follow-up is every bit as entertaining, mostly using a lighter approach to stories about lycanthropes.  While most of the stories have a comedic element, that’s not to say that there aren’t horrific elements as well.  For example, Denis St. John contributed two stories detailing a hunter spying a woman doing some sort of wolf-ritual in the forest at night, and then the consequences of his crazed punishment for her “evil” ways.  By exaggerating facial expressions and contrasting ridiculous actions with horrific ones, St. John keeps a reader off-balance and uncomfortable–in the best way possible.

Other highlights of the anthology include “The Bad-Ass Habit”, Laura Terry’s nun vs werewolf story, and Betsey Swardlick’s “Fail Wolves”.  Terry’s figure work in her story is particularly nice to look at, as she makes good use of the nun’s black habit against a dark forest to create an atmosphere of menace.  Like St. John, Terry uses a funny premise (a monster-killing nun) in a serious setting (saving the life of a student endangered by werewolves).  On the other hand, Swardlick’s story is pure silliness, using the high concept of having two vegan women afflicted by lycanthropy, craving Kentucky Fried Chicken.  Her story mixes slacker banter with surprisingly visceral storytelling, as the lead characters’ sense of smell and taste is heightened to an excruciating degree.  Everything about Swardlick’s comics is slightly frantic and all over the place, from her scribbly line to her lettering to the way her characters talk.  In an anthology like this, such storytelling is a perfect complement to more studied entries.

Josh Rosen and Mark Bilokur went in different directions.  Bilokur did a heavily shaded mood piece involving a man finding his true purpose at the crossroads.  Rosen did a high school story about a seemingly misunderstood kid engaging in disturbing antics out of revenge, only to provide a twist at the end revealing the horrific truth.  Rosen’s line in particular had the sort of slightly cartoony quality common to many high school tales of angst, so the ending came as an even bigger surprise.  There are also any number of interesting one-offs in this book, like a great drawing by Matt Aucoin that takes advantage of a city’s skyline in alternating between light and shadow.  Horror comic vet Steve Bissette contributes one of his typically expressive monster drawings.  Fittingly, David Yoder concludes the issue with a last-minute strip about his inability to come up with good ideas for his strip that winds up being jammed with good ideas.

This anthology is clearly edited with a lot of care and thought regarding both its contents and the order in which they appear.  There’s a cohesiveness lacking in many other minicomics anthologies that Werewolf!! possesses, and its theme winds up being a useful reference point that opens up a lot of possibilities for wide variety of storytelling approaches.  It’s obvious that the contributors to this anthology were committed to doing the best stories possible rather than hacking something out.  As long as each contributor keeps up this level of commitment, I hope to see future issues published.

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One Response to “More Howls From Werewolf!!

  1. greys! | says:

    […] that anyone’s reading this, but! I was invited to contribute to the third installment of the WEREWOLF anthology, which is awesome. Anyway, I’ve been playing with the greys. Here’s the first […]