This Day in Werewolf History

This Day in Werewolf History: “Werewolf: The Apocalypse” First Edition Turns 22

The widely-renowned werewolf RPG Werewolf: The Apocalypse turns 22 today, celebrating the anniversary of its first edition, released in 1992. Werewolf: The Apocalypse (First Edition) Whether you’ve played it—or even heard of it—or not, the RPG has had one hell of an impact on the internet’s werewolf lore as we know it.

The idea of werewolves as guardians of the planet against the evils of humanity? W:TA. Said evils are attributed to the mysterious and malevolent Wyrm in-game.

Werewolves with various “forms?” W:TA. Homid, Glabro, Crinos, Hispo, and Lupus are the names, ranging from “full man” to “full wolf.”

Werewolves with various tribes and rites? Yep.

While the werewolf fandom is frequently at odds in regards to the aspects of werewolf lore that White Wolf brought to the table, the game’s influence is undeniable. I myself have met numerous werewolf-enthusiast friends who recalled either playing or studying the World of Darkness that takes place in Werewolf. Beyond that, the game has been one of White Wolf’s most popular games ever published, even leading to a massively successful Kickstarter a few years ago to publish a 20th anniversary edition release, where they received over 300% more than their goal.

The 20th anniversary release can be purchased from the RPG download store DriveThru RPG in a variety of formats, including PDF, Hardcover B&W, Hardcover Color Premium, and Hardcover Color Standard here. You can also purchase the official 20th anniversary special release of the Werewolf: The Apocalypse cookbook from DriveThru RPG. Yes, really.

Or, if you’d just like to get a basic overview/rundown of the game itself, White Wolf has made available a free 34-page introductory kit PDF. So now you have no excuse to read up on the most widely-recognized werewolf table-top ever.

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This Day in Werewolf History: “Werewolf of London” Release Anniversary

Henry Hull as the eponymous werewolf

Henry Hull as the eponymous werewolf

Universal Studios’ first attempt at a werewolf film, Werewolf of London, celebrates its 79th birthday today, having been first debuted on May 13, 1935. Many people online incorrectly call Werewolf of London the earliest werewolf film made, and while it is certainly one of the older ones, there are several films that predate it. That being said, Werewolf of London is still unique in its werewolf design, though, as it is the first werewolf movie to make use of a bipedal werewolf rather than a trained dog or wolf.

The star of this film is the lesser-known Henry Hull, with makeup done by the famous Jack Pierce. Pierce’s original design was rejected by Hull, who insisted on a less hairy, more stylized design. Pierce then created the sinister, devilish werewolf design for Hull instead. This wound up being to Hull’s discredit, though; Pierce did have the chance to reuse his original werewolf design six years later on Lon Chaney Jr. in The Wolf Man—ultimately it is that design that is remembered instead.

Unlike its successor, almost none of the mythology of Werewolf of London remained in werewolf dogma in later films. Only two parts, in fact, wound up finding their way into later werewolf cinema: the werewolf transforming during the full moon, and the werewolf’s tendency to kill “the thing it loves best.”

Despite its relatively lesser fame, as both the first film featuring a bipedal werewolf and the earliest surviving werewolf film distributed by Universal Studios it holds a particular place in werewolf film history. Kick back and give Werewolf of London a watch today in honor of this nearly 80-year-old film.

This Day in Werewolf History: Astounding Wolf-Man and Jack Pierce Share A Birthday

The Astounding Wolf-Man

The werewolf superhero comic The Astounding Wolf-Man—from Image Comics—turns 7 today at the anniversary of its first issue publication as a 2007 Free Comic Book Day exclusive. (Not a bad way to garner interest in a new series!) The Astounding Wolf-Man ran from 2007 to its conclusion in 2010, and was created by author Robert Kirkman (The Walking Dead) and artist Jason Howard (Super Dinosaur). While not a typical werewolf story—the comic follows a plotline much closer to superhero comics rather than horror—it still remains one of the most widely-recognized and widely-distributed modern werewolf comics published.


 

Jack Pierce with Lon Chaney, Jr.Sharing a birthday with this comic is makeup artist Jack Pierce, known for designing the makeup for a wolf man of his own. Pierce would be turning 125 this year. Pierce was a renowned makeup artist of his time, known best for his work in the Universal Studios monster makeup design. For the purposes of this blog, he is notable for his makeup effects and work in the films Werewolf of London, The Wolf Man, She-Wolf of London, Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man, House of Dracula, and House of Frankenstein. Pierce’s work helped to inspire other makeup artists such as Rick Baker (An American Werewolf in London, The Wolfman) and Tom Savini (Dawn of the Dead, Creepshow).

This Day in Werewolf History: “Nattens madrigal” Released in 1997

Nattens madrigal

Nattens madrigal – Aatte hymne til ulven i manden (that is, in English, Madrigal of the Night – Eight Hymns to the Wolf in Man) turns 17 today. On the 2009 IGN list of ten great black metal albumsNattens madrigal is often thought of as one of the defining concept albums regarding lycanthropy.

The album documents the transformation of a werewolf who, succumbing to the efforts of Satan, turns to evil, wandering the city in a feverish rage before finally murdering his lover, and waking to blood and wine on his hands.

The album’s recording is lo-fi and thus takes some getting used to for those who don’t enjoy the sound provided. It is, however, a significant album, and as such if you’ve never given it a listen (or given its lyrics a read-through), you should check out Nattens madrigal today.

This Day in Werewolf History: Lon Chaney Jr. Turns 108

A very happy birthday to the original Wolf Man himself, Lon Chaney Jr.! Born in 1906, Mr. Chaney would be 108 today. He made a name for himself playing the tragic character Larry Talbot in the 1941 film The Wolf Man, and would eventually become one of the most recognizable monsters in modern cinema, going on to reprise his role in Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man, House of Frankenstein, House of Dracula, and Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein. He also played a werewolf (not necessarily the wolf man himself) in similar makeup in the 1959 film La Casa del Terror.

As Chaney is the only Universal Monster who did not receive his own sequel, yet also the only Monster to be played by the same actor, take a moment today to kick back and watch The Wolf Man, and raise a glass and howl for the wolf man!

This Day in Werewolf History: Werewolf by Night First Published in 1972

Marvel Spotlight on... Werewolf by Night

Marvel’s comic Werewolf by Night turns 42 today as we reach the anniversary of its first publication in Marvel Spotlight #2. The Werewolf (or rather, Jack Russell) was actively featured in publications from 1972-1977, but went dormant for many years before being revived in the early 90s. He has most recently appeared in Marvel Zombies 4, which ran for four issues from June to September 2009.

Swing by your local comics store to see if you can find The Werewolf hidden away in the archives!

This Day in Werewolf History: Sabine Baring-Gould Born in 1834

Sabine Baring-Gould

Sabine Baring-Gould (author of the definitive book on lycanthropy, The Book of Were-Wolves: Being an Account of a Terrible Superstition) turns 180 today.

Lift a glass to this leading author of historical lycanthropology today, and if you’d like to read through a 19th-century collection of werewolf lore, consider purchasing his book from Forgotten Books Publishers.