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Friday, July 2, 2010

Not scary enough?

One of the problems I seem to encounter working on these novel adaptions... Scarism. There is this new trend in books to make the werewolves all wolf like, like Twilight or whatever one of those the werewolves appear in . The people who dislike the vampires in these kinds of books call them 'Sparkly' which is really funny, especially if you've seen the Secret of Nimh. Well I'm calling these new 'werewolves' 'Fluffy'. You see the authors want them scary yet pretty, they have bought into the spiritualization of the wolf and decided that that would make the perfect werewolves for their books... just make them larger. The problem... well spiritual crap is just that... crap. Turning an animal into something it's not. So drawing these things based on real wolves constrains what I can do with them. If they are supposed to look like wolves I have to make them look like wolves. I have several good books with good images to use for reference on them. But for some reason these wolves fall flat when brought to the page. Not scary enough.

This werewolf wasn't scary enough. It wasn't looking the woman it was menacing in the eye. I think the tongue bothers them, they've never seen this behavior before so they think it's NOT scary. Well it is scary, it's a warning, usually around food (which is what was going on here.) I've seen my dogs do it and the one thing they don't do when doing it is look another dog in the eye, that way they can sneak attack. Plus it reminds me of the snake tasting the air, creepy. So what the real problem is is that no one actually reads about wolves and their behavior when doing these books. They just emulate what other writers have done before. So here I come with reference and background drawing something accurately and I get told it's wrong... GAH!!!!! Sometimes things need to be changed from a book, it just doesn't translate well.

That is all.



Ben Jones said...

The only way that ive had work man was to over-exagerate shoulders, ears and paws to create a werewolf from the actual wolf form. But good luck lol.

Brett said...

Hi Ben,

I agree, but they are supposed to look like normal wolves, I can't do both and they won't let me change them to look like I'd like to make them... grrrr.



MuffinHunter said...

Man, I could not agree with you more. "Fluffy" is a perfect term for it.

Nan said...

They've never seen a wolf with that look on the face?!?! WTH That's one of the keys when they warn off another, especially with food. I just don't get it. Good luck, hopefully they'll allow you to not make them too Fluffy

Anonymous said...

I don't know, he looks pretty scary to me. I know three little pigs who would probably poop their pants if they saw this.


M.O.R said...

Thanks for putting up this image, and the sad story to go along with it. Great to know that pros have a rotten time too, not just beginners.

But the legend of the werewolf states that they turn into a wolf, not a hybrid. The movie, Wolf, with Jack Nicholson, actually features a wolf with certain human facial features, while still looking like a wolf. The film dies a death fast, but that aspect of the mythology is dealt with well. And the silver bullet does not kill, it has to be shot straight into the heart to kill, otherwise it leaves an open wound.

I agree, these editors have no idea about a wolf, or canines in general. I think it is creepy, but have you tried making his fur more mangy and scraggly, with scars and ear marks and missing flesh in the ears? Maybe make the wolf have a very dark, blackish fur coat. (In case his seems like I am telling you how to do your job, I am not, definitely not, just trying to think of ways to get round a short sighted editor.) Maybe change the angle of the shot, make it come towards the reader, rather than a profile shot, and with a low angle from the viewers point of view, make them the victim.

(These are all just suggestions, I might add, again).
Maybe get rid of the pupil? Make him demonic?

Twilight has alot to answer for. They make vampires stupid (never thought that anything could surpass that crap that was "Queen of the Damned", but Twilight and co did) and they make werewolves into badly animated, taxidermist like stuffed toys. Wolves can look real, they just never tried).
Most teens don't know a scary, tough vampire when they see one. Anime is filled with them, and their are countless movie vamps also.

Brett said...

Thanks Nan and Steve:)


Ah, but which legend? I believe the ancient Egyptians had half animal/human gods, the ancient Native Americans have images of Lions with human like bodies (or humans with Lion heads,) the American Lion went extinct 11,000 years ago, that predates the European woodcuts (that show both wolf and the more anthropomorphic ones I like to do. I'm looking at one right now) Plus, Myths and Legends are just that, so why must they be completely accurate to the myth? If that's the case then ALL vampires should look ugly. I think you need to be able to adapt them a bit when needed and with all these fluffy wolves popping up I think I'll take my 2 legged ones over the big wolf ones;)

I can't make it more demonic when it's supposed to look like a big wolf. That's my problem. I decided to opt out of covers for this book. The writer and I are not clicking so it will be a nightmare to work on them. I don't get paid for corrections and I have other books to draw!



WolfAtHeart said...

I'm in full agreement here. The idea of just using an over-sized wolf would be kind of scary, but only if it was one of those sort of emaciated-ish, hulking ones. Not just a wolf with an over-active pituitary gland (I think that's the right one...). Anyway, I have to agree that the idea of doing a wolf-human hybrid would be scary at almost any size or muscularity. Actually, one of the best images I've seen is by a guy named Tom Wood, with the image here: There's plenty of great artwork out there depicting wolf/human hybrids and this is only one of them. Actually as a sidenote, this is an image I'd love to see you draw :).

M.O.R said...

Ah yes, there are multiple myths, that is true, but the word is werewolf, and the 'were' of the title is German, meaning man. So the werewolf thing is derived from the European myth, where the person becomes a wolf, in body.
It differs slightly to the shapeshifter. For one thing, according to certain myths, the shapeshifter must assume the skin of the animal it wishes to transform into. For a wolf, they must kill one and assume it's skin. Same with a lion, Tiger, Crow or any other animal.

Btw, there are numerous vampire lores, whether it is the chinese myths, or the european myths, or the african, or the asian. One of the few countries which has no vampire myth of its own is Japan. When it came to Vampire Hunter D, the japanime team utilised the western model, rather than the Chinese neigbours version. The vampire, in lore, also differs in appearance. The handsome seducer/ seductress, where the male could spawn a Dhampire, or half vampire, with a human woman. Or the ugly, demonic vampire, whose hiding in the shadows is also an excuse to hide his ugly, physical appearance. Then there is the native American story where when one vampire was burned at the stake, his ashes spread, becoming mosquitoes.
The vampires can also walk around during the day, albeit with limited powers compared to the night.

Brett said...

Hi M.O.R.,

Did you just tell me we are sticking to one area and then say there are different types of vampires across the world;) You'll have to trust me that I have done lots of research into this, had lots of book on it as well until we lost those in a small flood.:(

You seem to forget the Loup-garou and Rang-garou, wolf head, human body. There's even a very nice 17th century woodcut showing it on 2 legs. The ones that use the skins are generally thought to be witches or in Native American lore, skin walkers. There are different types so really any version can be correct for what you need. My whole argument is that the regular looking ones just don't do it for me, and unfortunately the touchy feely girly werewolves that jus tlook like big wolves are the 'in' thing right now so I'm stuck drawing them:(

M.O.R said...

Twilight has alot to answer for. >:¬|There is no imagination or creativity in those films, just rubbish.

Yeah, sorry there, my mind hops around alot :(.

I am also a big fan of werewolves. Always preferred them over vampires, maybe cos I grew up around dogs, but also love mythology.
Yet Hollywood, in recent times, just cannot get the Werewolf myth right.
The Howling, and An American Werewolf in London, are almost 30 years old, now. The last great Werewolf film was Ginger Snaps. What they keep messing up is the fact that the wolf is meant to be this monstrous, flesh eating, hunting, vicious montrosity. IT has hunger, desires, power, lust.
A movie called Monster Squad (Cool film where the Mummy, Frankenstein's monster, Creature from the Black Lagoon aka Gill Man, Wolfman, and Dracula team up to end the world, with only a team of teenagers to fight them), made in the mid 80's, has one really cool scene where the werewolf, or wolf man, is blown apart using dynamite. Well, as we know, this does not kill him, but in a really cool scene, we see him pull all his body parts back together, and he gets up and walks away.

Like you, I feel that using a large wolf is a tad boring. Even Disney don't use a regular animal for their characters, they add stuff that give them character, like broad shoulders for strength, or a skinny frame to show they are evil (eg The Lion King).
Same goes for drawing a werewolf. Ya gotta add character. If it looks like a large wolf, well, that could be anything. Princess Mononoke had a large wolf and her cubs at the centre of the film, and they were spirits.
Gotta make it distinct. The Werewolf in American Werewolf, resembles a wolf, but still has enough changes in his features for one to realise that this is not a regular wolf.

Brett said...


No worries, my mind jumps around a lot as well:)

I like WW in London... except for the wolf. I hate the 4 legged ones for some reason. Just not my thing. Howling was good, nice werewolves. I liked the werewolves in VanHelsing (bad, bad movie!) but I actually don't like the whole 10 minute transformation scenes, the boo hooing of the 'cursed' people and stuff like that. I want a cool werewolf that actually embraces the monster, you just don't see that, unless it's the bad guy.

Disney doesn't really do real things, they are all very stylized so that you can make the traits character specific. I do realistic animals so if I do a wolf it has to look like a wolf. I do add stuff, but it's not enough to make this wolf head scary I guess;)



Derek Ruiz said...

My Maltese made that face before she took a big chunk out of my finger a couple months back.


Jess said...

Derek- That face means you're doing something "I don't like/am uncomfortable with/is scary to me and I'd like you to stop. If you don't stop, I'll bite you." The tongue flicking out means "I don't really want to bite you, but I will if you exceed my comfort level." The tongue is a sign of anxiety and also a calming signal, to show that the animal doesn't mean overt aggression. If the animal was threatening the ears would be forward and the tongue inside the mouth.

Derek Ruiz said...

Yeah It was when the pups where first learning to escape from the kennel. She didn't like the fact that I was collecting them to put them back. She loves me now. She sleeping on my back as i type this.


M.O.R said...

How's your finger now?

Had a similar situation with a JAck Russell Terrier a few years back when she had pups also.

She actually had a really fierce temper, but she never gave out to any of us when we were playing with the puppies. Although she would bark when a stranger would come near them, or a dog we owned but she did not trust (another dog, a male, was so nonchalant about everything, except strangers, cattle, and his food, that when she did bark at him, he kinda looked at her like "What? I only bite cattle, and give out to strangers, I have no interest in going anywhere near, or even looking at your pups" (He was a border collie, specifically trained to herd cattle. I live on a farm).

Strangely, she was a magnificent hunter when she was carrying her litter. Mice, Magpies, Rats, whatever vermin needed taking care of, she was your girl. She was a great hunter (mice, rats, birds) before she went in pup, but she seemed to hunt everything while pregnant. Probably helped that there was so much mice around the place as well :).

M. Passaro said...

You are right about the wolves and the way they look. it annoys the crappers out of me when a writer does shit like that... i call it "MAINSTREAM" bullshit that everyone else is doing. the fact is that seeing a wolf or any large dog (especially with the force behind their jaws) do this is much scarier than some tweaked out fake wolf snarling with all its teeth showing. sine the business end of this warning generally ends in being chihuahua does this however its...not so menacing lol