Minis Monday: Werewolf!!

Posted by on September 20th, 2010 at 1:00 PM

 


From Werewolf!!, ©2010 Matt Aucoin.

 

Werewolf!!
Team Werewolf
B&W, 52 pp.

In popular entertainment, movies have pretty thoroughly covered the basic emotional and psychological underpinnings of the werewolf… the horror, guilt, pity, torment, fear and so forth, depending on whether the principle vantage point was that of monster or menu item.

But it’s been mostly bad films and mostly the horror. Better works have invariably made an effort to flesh out wider latitudes of human experience relative to this symbolic, iconic creature. The single most invigorating aspect of Team Werewolf’s regard for the titular subject in this anthology is their multiplicity of approaches.

Another thing I like about the collection is its eased sense of the fantastic, its tacit acceptance of the astonishing. Werewolves ain’ all that, so where do we go from here?

You hardly have to be Freud, or an attentive reader, to pick up the central dichotomy prominent in the conception of werewolves as depicted in the 12 offerings. With the wavering between human and bestial states, werewolves offer a liberation of one’s nature, a “truer” nature, along with the fuller sense of self that accompanies. That’s an unleashing to be longed for. Of course, that liberation can also mean the ascendance of primal urges, the most notable of which, traditionally, has been feral savagery.

Outright horror and savagery are components here, but so are the twist and the wink. Laura Terry depicts werewolves as ferocious predators met by an equally implacable foe, a nun in “The Bad-Ass Habit.” As in the best monster-movie tradition, the episode leaves us wondering who stands revealed as the more terrible creature, “them” or us? The most straightforward gore can be found in Denis St. John’s “Dance of the She-Beast” and its epilogue, yet it is largely overshadowed by both the full frontal spectacle of a human-to-animal transformation and a perverse notion of heroism.

In St. John’s story, the aspect of inner emancipation is offered as a brief, unpersuasive and ineffectual defense. A more developed — and quieted — notion of unbound spirit as necessary and healthy is in the metaphorical “Midnight at the Crossroads” by Mark Bilokur.

Rounding out the profile of werewolfism as personality component and/or wish fulfillment, Joshua Rosen presents a sensitive high-schooler as more-than-mortal misfit in “Unusual Skins.” This piece suffers from having a more crafted build-up than satisfying resolution (who’s that tablemate?), perhaps because it is excerpted from or refers to a longer, on-going work.

The volume boasts several pin-ups, including one by Stephen Bissette, and contributor profiles complete with self-portraits. As a whole, the level of drawing is better than many self-published anthologies can claim, especially given the number of entries and range in tenor. Even the cover and coordinated interior illustrations by Penina Gal carry a coherent narrative.

But in the end I remain a sucker for laughs, as in David Yoder’s concluding page, the short, punchy, faux-autobiography strip, “Where’s the Wolf.” Then there are two other pieces that, in the immediate future, will find their way into this column via complete comics from individual creators Nick Patten and Betsy Swardlick, meaning more good cheer ahead for man and beast.

 

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