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When it comes to iconic werewolf movies, you’d be hard-pressed to find many that are better than An American Werewolf In London. However, if you ask any horror fan what their second favorite is, then The Howling is a likely response from most. Based on the novel of the same by Gary Brandner, Joe Dante’s 1981 flick is a landmark of the werewolf sub-genre and an absolute marvel in practical creature FX. The film stars Dee Wallace as a television newswoman sent to a remote mountain resort after a horrific incident with a serious; however, little does she know that the townsfolk are barking mad. The film was well-received, but the subsequent seven sequels didn’t live up to the expectations of the original.
Space Goat Productions have made a name for themselves in recent times thanks to their tabletop adaptations of genre classics like Evil Dead 2, The Terminator, and, of course, The Howling. That said, they also have a proven track record of excellence when it comes to giving iconic horror properties a new lease of life in comics, and their latest collaboration with Micky Neilson (writer) and Jason Johnson (artist), aims to give Joe Dante’s masterpiece the true sequel it deserves.
The Howling: Revenge of the Werewolf Queen picks up right after where the movie left off, centering on Chris Halloran as he’s forced to deal with the consequences of shooting Karen White after she turned into one mean bitch. Now set to face hard time, he must prove the existence of werewolves if he’s going to prove his innocence. The first issue is a must read for fans of Dante’s film and the worthy successor it deserves.
Recently, I got to chat to the creators about the comic, their affinity for the film and their future projects.
Tell us about your background. How did you get into comics and when did you decide to start creating them?
Micky Neilson: I first got involved in comics while working at Blizzard Entertainment. We were partnered with DC, and I was pitching in on a lot of story content. As a story developer at the time, I was given the opportunity to write World of Warcraft: Ashbringer, which went on to make number two on the NY Times Bestseller List for graphic novels. I’ve been working on various comics, both print and digital, ever since.
Jason Johnson: I started doing comics straight out of high school for Jim Lee and his studio Wildstorm at Image Comics. I worked there a handful of years working on books like Wetworks and Gen13, then I moved to NY and started working with DC and Marvel. I took a year-long hiatus to do work for magazines and video games, and five years ago decided to get back into comics and haven’t looked back.
How did The Howling project come about?
MN: When I moved to Washington I met Shon Bury (Space Goat President) through a friend. He told me about projects they were working on, like Evil Dead 2. He also told me about various licenses he had potential access to. When he said “The Howling” my jaw hit the floor. First off, werewolves are my favorite horror subgenre. Second, The Howling is my all-time favorite werewolf movie. From then on I basically bugged the crap out of Shon until he finally decided to give the license a shot!
JJ: I had let Shon Bury at Space Goat know I was interested in working with him some time ago, and out of nowhere I received an email stating he would like me to work on a book for the Howling. He thought of me since I had some previous experience with werewolves on the previously mentioned Wetworks series. I loved this movie as a kid, so I immediately jumped on the opportunity.
Obviously, with a built-in universe like The Howling and its cult fan base, there are some expectations. Granted, most people don’t consider the movie sequels the best, but did you feel any extra pressure to deliver?
MN: I wouldn’t say “pressure,” but I felt a very clear responsibility. I firmly believed that my love of the movie would come across through the comic and that I would do the movie storyline justice. I love that we were able to focus on the first movie; to me, there is no equal. The look of the werewolves in The Howling defined my view of werewolves from then on. One of the things I was most adamant about was that we find an artist who could achieve the iconic look of The Howling werewolves. I’m happy to say that Jason Johnson has done a great job!!
JJ: There was some minor pressure, but more to the point I felt it my duty to provide the fans with an as close to the original experience as possible. There is a unique look and feel the movie has that I believed was integral to emulating in the art so it seemed like a true sequel.
Who are some of your biggest influences as creators?
MN: Robert E. Howard, Tolkien, Melville, Roy Thomas, Stephen King, Richard Matheson, Jason Aaron
JJ: There are far too many to name, but a few are Jim Lee, JC Leyendecker, Alphonse Mucha, Shirow Masamune, Ryan Ottley, etc.
Are you working on any projects after this series you can tell us about?
MN: I’m writing an ongoing series of werewolf books (very mature). The series is called The Turning and the first two books are out now with a third on the way. Also, it was just recently announced that I’m writing a book for the next Call of Duty game. The book is a WWII Field Manual with commentary from the game’s main character! Pretty cool. I’m also working on an as-yet unannounced sci-fi novel and a couple different film projects, including an occult thriller called Dark Haven. So… yeah, I’m keeping busy!
JJ: A sci-fi book called The Resistants from Big Blue Comics is currently out with more issues to come, as well as my years long work in Penthouse magazine. Other projects are still in the beginning stages.
You can pick up issue #1 HERE.