Thursday, October 09, 2014

Cycle of the Werewolf

Since my last post--titled WEREWOLF--featured no actual werewolves, I figured it would be best to get back on track with a horror story that served up a proper lycanthrope.

In the mid-1980s, I had just started reading Stephen King, and my favourite novel at the time was The Stand. It was around that time that I also started to collect comic books, and was introduced to the art of Bernie Wrightson--so imagine my surprise when I discovered that, in 1983, he had also illustrated a horror novella by King. I was over the moon! (Sorry.) The best of both worlds, to be sure.

Cycle of the Werewolf is perhaps one of the lesser-known works from the prolific author, and Wrightson is better known for Swamp Thing, Frankenstein, and his work for Warren Publishing. Yet it remains one of my favourites, not only because I like the story (and how it's structured), but because I also enjoy Wrightson's take on werewolves. The tale is divided up into twelve, short chapters, beginning in January and ending in December. Each one starts with a full-page, black & white illustration that reflects the changing landscape over the seasons. Also included is a full-colour drawing that illustrates a particular moment in the chapter; I've included some of the most stunning ones in this post.

© Bernie Wrightson
© Bernie Wrightson
Set in the fictional town of Tarker's Mills, Maine, the story begins with a vicious murder, and the body count rises during each full moon. By July, the press is calling the perpetrator the "Full Moon Killer." After a young boy named Marty Coslaw survives an attack, he claims that it was a werewolf who tried to kill him, and not a man--but no one believes him. Before the werewolf fled, Marty managed to damage one of its eyes--and he soon discovers that a prominent member of the town has started to wear an eye patch. Could he be the werewolf, in human form?

© Bernie Wrightson
© Bernie Wrightson
In 1985, the story was adapted on film as Silver Bullet, starring Corey Haim (R.I.P.), which received mixed reviews. Surprisingly, there's even been chatter over the years of a planned sequel, which would take place decades after the original story. Obviously, Haim would not reprise his role, but there was talk that Corey Feldman would take his place.

Here are two more samples of Wrightson's awesome illustrations:

© Bernie Wrightson
© Bernie Wrightson

31 Days of Horror (2014 edition) continues tomorrow...


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