From Horror Movie To Horror Comic: The Howling

It’s close to Halloween now, and for this countdown update we are going to once more take a look at a werewolf film that sparked a comic book series. To me along with The Wolf Man (1943) and An American Werewolf In London (1981) it ranks as one of the best werewolf films of all time, and of course I am talking about The Howling. Werewolves have always been my favorite classic monsters of myth and cinema as something about turning into an uncontrollable beast when the moon is full is just kind of cool and sparks a young Monster Kid’s mind like mine into being creative and have helped lead to the creation of Scars, The Carrier, Emo and Werewolf Of Ohio, all film characters that I have played in cheesy shot on video films. So as the full moon rises in the sky and what we hope is the wind howls all around us, it’s going to be an amazing time as I am happy to bring you From Horror Movie To Horror Comic: The Howling! So grab some silver bullets (and I am not talking about the cheap beer) and stay on the path as it’s time to visit The Colony and hope the werewolves stay away.

Before we prowl to deep into the woods around The Colony, we should take a moment and learn about the werewolves that run wild in The Howling. While there are tons of werewolves that are roaming around in this film, we will be taking a look at the Quist siblings who are some of the most blood thirsty of the pack. Eddie Quist is a very violent man who is branded a serial killer, though in reality he is much worse as he is a werewolf! Eddie is very mean spirited and likes to toy with his victims before he murders them in brutal fashion. Eddie also likes to talk very dirty to his female victims before turning into the raging beast to rip them to shreds. Eddie’s sister Marsha Quist is very cunning and uses her sex appeal and stunning exotic looks to draw her prey into a death sentence as brother T.C. Quist is a great tracker and hunter and uses these skills as a man as well as a werewolf. The siblings are the troublemakers of The Colony as they are sick of killing and eating cows and crave the hunt and taste of humans.

As werewolves, they have many tools to get the job done. Let’s start first with their appearance as they are beast-like and strike terror in those who see them. They also have sharp teeth and claws that can slice, rip, tear and mutilate human flesh and can do so fast or even slowly. They are also very fast moving and are excellent hunters and stalkers, and poor humans stand no chance against them. They also have a bone-chilling howl that can freeze people with fear and as well leave them open for an attack. They can also call upon many other werewolves, as they are pack killers as well as solo killers and this makes them very dangerous. As humans and werewolves, they also can shrug off attacks with normal weapons like bullets and none-silver knives. But as you can see, they do have weaknesses as silver bullets and knives can kill them as well as fire. The Quist clan, as well as the rest of the werewolves, are a violent pack of wolves and killers and show that while they can be killed, they are super skilled killing machines.

As you can see, Eddie Quist and the werewolves that make up The Colony are skilled killers, who are true beasts of no mercy. Now let’s take a look at the film they are from, The Howling. As always, I will be taking the film’s write up from our friends at IMDB and after I will write about the film’s production as well as my love for the film.

The Howling (1981)

“In a red light district, newswoman Karen White is bugged by the police, investigating serial killer Eddie Quist, who has been molesting her through phone calls. After police officers find them in a peep-show cabin and shoot Eddie, Karen becomes emotionally disturbed and loses her memory. Hoping to conquer her inner demons, she heads for the Colony, a secluded retreat where the creepy residents are rather too eager to make her feel at home. There also seems to be a bizarre connection between Eddie Quist and this supposedly safe haven. And when, after nights of being tormented by unearthly cries, Karen ventures into the forest and makes a terrifying discovery.”

In 1977 writer Gary Brandner wrote a werewolf novel called The Howling. Embassy Pictures wanted to make a film based on the book and originally hired director Jack Conrad, but after they clashed with him, they let him go. Joe Dante stepped in and brought in writer John Sayles to write the script that only took small elements from the novel it was based on. The script’s tone was horror but also added a dash of satire to make the film feel like Piranha (1978), a film Dante and Sayles worked on together. The film went onto casting, and names like Dee Wallace, Patrick Macnee, Dennis Dugan and Christopher Stone were brought in as the main cast with names like Belinda Balaski, Elisabeth Brooks and Robert Picardo rounding out the supporting cast. But what many people enjoy are the cameos from classic genre actors like John Carradine, Roger Corman, Forrest J. Ackerman, Dick Miller, Slim Pickens and Kevin McCarthy, who helped add a level of specialness to the film.

The film’s special effects went to Rob Bottin, who took over for Rick Baker who left the production to help John Landis on his film An American Werewolf In London, and Bottin did an amazing job with his transformation of Eddie Quist that rivaled the work Baker was doing on London. The production was your normal Hollywood shoot with deadlines and stress, and when done the film, it was scored by Pino Donaggio who delivered a great sounding score that helped bring the eeriness of the movie theme to life.

The film hit theaters on March 13, 1981 and was a hit for Embassy Pictures at the US Box Office bringing in a total of $17,985,893.00 on a budget of $1.5 million and ranked # 41 at the American Box Office that year. The year it was released, it came out with such other Horror Films as “An American Werewolf In London”, “The Evil Dead”, “Halloween II”, “Friday The 13th Part 2”, “My Bloody Valentine” and “House By The Cemetery,” to name a few. The film was well received by horror fans and was met with mix reviews from critics, many of whom kept comparing it to the novel. Even in 2020, the film has a major cult following.

I saw The Howling after I saw An American Werewolf In London, and it was because of my Dad that I was able to watch the film when it aired on a paid cable station like HBO or Cinemax. And after seeing the film, I was hooked and loved every second of it as I found the werewolf design to be badass, the effects were top notch and it was well cast as even as a kid, I marked out for John Carradine in any film. I also loved that the Grandma from Texas Chainsaw Massacre was in the bookstore! And whenever I hear someone say exotic beauty, Marsha Quist (Elisabeth Brooks) comes to mind, as they play that up for her big time in the film.

After seeing this film my brother and I tracked down the paperback novels of The Howling 1-3 written by Gary Brandner, and after reading the books I became more and more obsessed with this film and all the sequels that followed. I would go on to buy the movie on VHS and later on DVD and have also seen the film on the big screen over the years thanks to Horrorama events.

Back in the 2000’s, indie comic company Dead Dog Comics announced that they were doing a comic mini series based on The Howling movies, and I was super hyped as they were one of my favorite comic companies and they were doing comics based on one of my favorite werewolf films…but while the comic mini series was released, the Howling connection was dropped as rights issues kept it from happening…so if you want to check the comic series that was supposed to be The Howling, find the four issues of “Curse Of The Blood Clan” released in 2005. Over the years, I have bought The Howling soundtrack CD, t-shirts and hoodies, Scream Factory’s statue and even an old prism sticker. Say what you will about The Howling, but it’s one of the best werewolf films of the 80’s and is a true rival to An American Werewolf In London in story and effects.

Like all classic movies that spawn a massive cult following and a franchise, a lot of great merchandise was released around The Howling. Besides the film on all types of home media from Beta to Blu-Ray as well as the Space Goat Comic series, it has also had its fair share of shirts, posters, statues, soundtrack releases, a paperback novel with movie poster cover, stickers, fan art, Halloween masks, it’s been featured in many magazines and has had fan made toys! So if you are a fan of The Howling, there is lots of very cool stuff out in the world for you to collect.

The Howling really is a fantastic classic creature feature that helped bring werewolves back to the main stream, and it’s also great that in 2017 they got a chance to bring werewolves back to the world of comic books. I also want to talk about the elephant in the room when you talk about Space Goat, the company who made this comic series and who also did series based on Evil Dead 2. Their comics were great and came out on time and readers enjoyed them as they delivered some great horror comics based on great classic movies…but things got really bad for them when they decided to get into the world of board games and used Kickstarter to get the money to make them. Shon C. Bury was the founder of Space Goat Productions, and he had some big ideas for his company’s board games as he wanted to do one of Evil Dead 2 and The Terminator. Both had very cool game pawns, and both looked great and had gamers very much looking forward to getting them and having epic game nights with friends. The crowd funding goal was blown away on both games and over a million dollars was raised. New perks were added to the campaign, and the buzz for these projects hit a fever pitch! And they even promised that The Howling was going to get the board game treatment…but before they could get that game on Kickstarter, the lies and missed dates from the other two board games started to show through, and it was clear after months and years that Space Goat aka Shon had made promises of these board games that they could not deliver and in fact never did!

So over a million dollars of fans’ money went MIA. Later Shon reached out to backers to try and get more money from them to “make” the board games and help Space Goat stay alive. Also at this time former employees started to speak out about Shon, who they painted out to be a toxic person who treated everyone terribly at the Space Goat office, Shon responded by apologizing and seeking help for his anger issues.

But as time passed and the funds ran dry, Space Goat and Shon disappeared from the world of comic books and board games, and no full board gamers were delivered or made and only some backers got any perks sent to them. Then as quickly as they came, Space Goat Productions was closed and went to the great long box in the sky. It’s a shame that all this drama and board game stuff clouded up their comic branch as I feel that they were shaping up to be a good solid indie company that was delivering original and license issues to readers’ hands.

I am not sure what Shon is up to these days, and I know that for many the wound of not getting what they were owed via the crowd funding board games or even a refund is still raw. But again all drama aside, Evil Dead 2 backers ended up getting a break from another board game company called Jasco who honored their old pledges to right the wrong, and sadly because of this drama, and, for a lack of a better term, scam, the world lost a very promising comic company. And I fear that if Space Goat or Shon every tried to return to the world of comic books, they would be met with lots of anger and bad press for the sins of the past.

Before we move onto the update, I also want to take a moment to say that at time I think about what other cool horror movie themed comics they had in the works before they went under. They had Evil Dead 2 and The Howling with a Terminator series on the horizon…but what else was in the works we didn’t know about? Who knows, maybe one day I can track down Shon and ask him about what comics were to come.

So as you can see, the werewolves that make up The Howling universe are deadly and the film that started it all is a true iconic film of the 80’s! But now it’s time for us to take a look at the four issue mini series released by Space Goat in 2017! I want to remind you all that I grade these comics on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comics stay to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story. I also want to thank Mavericks Cards And Comics for pulling these issues for my file when they were first released. So with that, let’s travel to The Colony and see what these bloodthirsty werewolves have in store for us comic readers.

The Howling # 1 ***
Released in 2017   Cover Price $3.99     Space Goat   # 1 of 4

Chris Halloran’s life has changed for the worse after he shot his best friend Karen White live on the news as she turned into a werewolf…and even worse, all of his fellow station workers who witnessed the event have had a hard time dealing with it as many have killed themselves over the events. Meanwhile in Santa Cruz, Vera comes home and finds Marsha Quist in her study. She wants to know information about to whom she sold a relic called the Hand Of Akkara. Vera is scared and pulls a gun and shoots Marsha who shrugs off the bullet wound and tells her the name “Joe Valentine” as the buyer. As Marsha starts to transform into a werewolf, Vera runs for her life and finds shelter in a carnival funhouse…but the werewolf Marsha finds her and knocks the woman’s head off! Marsha then howls at the moon as the first issue comes to an end.

The first issue of The Howling is a good solid horror comic that takes place after the events of the movie and has Chris dealing with the after effects of the killing of Karen on live TV and also has werewolf Marsha Quist looking for a relic as well as being still upset about how The Colony tried to change the werewolves and their want to hunt and kill humans. Marsha Quist is still using her looks and sex appeal to get what she wants and has no issues now turning into a werewolf and dealing out death in her quest to feed her hunger and to find a relic that we the reader are just learning about. Chris Halloran is the hero from the movie who thought he killed all the werewolves of The Colony only to find that many are still alive as the body count was low. He is also dealing with the mental strain of having to kill his friend on TV as well as looked at for murder. The story is intriguing right now, and I cannot wait to see what happens next with both Chris and Marsha and you know that more werewolves are on their way. This issue has some great use of blood and gore, and when the character Vera gets her head knocked off, it’s well done and showcases some gruesome great artwork. The cover is very eye catching and reminds me of the Scream Factory DVD. The interior art done by Jason Johnson is great stuff, and I would like to see more Horror Comics done by him! This is a great issue, and I cannot wait to see what issue two has in store.

The Howling # 2  ***
Released in 2017   Cover Price $3.99     Space Goat   # 2 of 4

Marsha Quist shows up at the house of an employee of Joe Valentine and asks were she can find Joe. When he doesn’t answer she rips his penis off and learns that Joe is always at a night club on Friday nights! Meanwhile Chris has started to notice that all the witnesses to Karen’s transformation are dying, and worse, the footage of the event is now missing from the station and his old boss seems to be covering something sinister up as if someone or some group is covering it all up and forever silencing all that saw it. Chris does some digging and finds out details about the murder of Vera and her husband, gets a shotgun from the black market, visits Walter at his book store and buys more books on werewolves and orders more silver bullets.  While leaving the book store, he meets a strange woman who leaves him a note and says she can help him expose the truth! Meanwhile Marsha Quist finds Joe at the club and tricks him into going back to his office with her with the promise of sex and once in the office she uses a sword from his wall to stab his leg and demands the Hand Of Akkara. As Joe opens his safe, a ton of guards come to his aid and they pay for it with their lives as Marsha turns into a werewolf and slaughters them all. Once Joe opens the safe, she also kills him and at the end off the issue she is holding the Hand Of Akkara and she is very pleased by this.

This second issue of The Howling from Space Goat is yet another great read and does a good job of moving the plot along as well as delivering some great werewolf kills! The plot for this issue has Chris uncovering what he thinks is a cover up of the werewolf clan and the killing of Karen. Chris really is digging deeper and deeper into this as he wants to avenge the death of his friend as well as his girlfriend Terry who was killed by a werewolf in the film. I also love that we see bookstore owner Walter back again as he now believes in werewolves and is going to hook Chris up with more silver bullets to protect himself from them if they come calling. It’s also very fishy that the tapes are missing from the TV station and that Chris’s old boss seems to be denying that Karen turned into a werewolf on air! Marsha Quist again turns up her hotness and uses her amazing looks to bait and kill her victims and boy does she have many in this issue. Each one is pretty bloody in nature showing this series is not pulling any gore punches. I also like that Marsha can change from human to werewolf at will and in the end by using her charm and death dealing skills is able to get the Hand Of Akkara that clearly is going to be a relic that will cause an uprising of werewolves. The killing of the office guards is a fun horrific time and her ripping the penis off of a victim is brutal and shows that Marsha is a killing machine. The cover is pretty great and for some reason the way Marsha looks reminds me of the face of the werewolf from the film “Cross Of The 7 Jewels” and its both awesome and also makes me laugh. The interior art by Jason Johnson is really good and once more this guy should be hired to make more comic based on Horror Movies! Another solid issue, and I cannot wait to read issue three now!

The Howling # 3  ***
Released in 2017   Cover Price $3.99     Space Goat   # 3 of 4

An all-woman adult film is being filmed when Marsha Quist shows up and kills both actresses and alerts the cameraman that she is in need of his camera skills very soon. Meanwhile Chris calls his old boss about a big scoop, and soon a man with a gun is sent his way, but this hit will not go off as planned as Chris was waiting for the hitman as was Ruth, the woman he met at the book store. They take the would be killer hostage and plan on getting information from him as they turn him over to a rag tag group of freedom underground hosts. Ruth used to work for the F.B.I. and as she leaves to meet up with her old partner who has proof of werewolves, she tells him she will leave a note with Walter at the bookstore. Time passes and Chris heads to the store and finds the note was left but it was one alerting him that someone has Ruth hostage. Luckily for Chris his silver bullets are in and might help him on his rescue mission. Chris is sent to the Porn Shop where Karen first met Eddie Quist and in a peep booth sees a video that has Marsha with Ruth and she tells him to meet her at the Colony! Chris knows it’s a trap but heads there anyway and with him he brings the Government group that is sending the hitman with the promise they can have the werewolves and brings the Freedom Group to clash with the government group…giving them a better chance of leaving alive. Once Chris frees Ruth, they find a tape that says play me, while outside Marsha Quist calls all the living werewolves to her side and uses the Hand Of Akkara to bring back the dead werewolves as a showdown to the death is on the horizon as the Marsha wants to bring back the rule of the wolf.

This third issue turns up the flame and allows the plot to thicken as Chris and his new partner in finding the truth, Ruth, stop a murder attempt as well as return to the scene of The Colony in order to have a final showdown with Marsha and her army of werewolves. In this issue, Chris is a hero who knows that his life is in danger but will do what he can to expose the truth to the world as well as save the lives of those he can. I also like that while he is our hero, he is also very much a normal guy who has fears of the unknown just like the rest of us. Ruth is a former F.B.I. agent who left her job after her department was shut down and all their data proving werewolves real was taken away. Her partner stayed on and is feeding her information making her a big help to Chris and his cause. Walter the bookstore owner comes through again as he not only delivers a case full of silver bullets, but also acts as the middle man between Chris and Ruth who have to talk in secret at times. The Government Agents and the weird Freedom Fighters are both gun carrying men of America who think their side is right in the cause…what cause you ask, well whatever one they are told is right! Marsha Quist with her Hand Of Akkara relic shows that she really does have the power as she can use it to not only bring the werewolves together but can also bring the dead ones back to life! One very cool part of this issue is that we get two key locations from the movie as we get the Eros Adult Store that starts the film as well as the Doctor’s Cabin at the Colony that was the location of the death of Eddie and Terry, nice touch having them both in this comic. The issue is bloody and filled with some great kills as Marsha has no time to deal with the adult film actresses and massacres them with a fast a brutal manner. The cover on this issue is pretty weak, and the werewolf version of Marsha looks weak and very odd, not an eye-catching cover at all. Jason Johnson’s interior art is well done, and I should also note that the characters that are returning from the film do not look like the actors who played them so for those hoping to see Walter look like Dick Miller…you will be disappointed, but again I have to stress Jason’s artwork is fantastic. Well we only have one issue left in this series and thus far Space Goat has done a great job continuing the story of The Howling, so let’s see what the final issue has in store for us.

The Howling # 4 ***
Released in 2017   Cover Price $3.99     Space Goat   # 4 of 4

Chris and Ruth hit play on the tape, and Marsha informs Chris that Ruth is not who he thinks. She is Donna who is a werewolf who’s loved one was shot and killed by Chris on that frightful night! As Donna transforms, Chris is forced to shoot her with a silver bullet, killing the woman he thought was his only ally. Meanwhile outside Marsha uses the Hand Of Akkara to bring back the dead werewolves that have all lost their human side making them total beast and for all accounts zombies, and they rush the Government Group and the Freedom Fighters and they all soon learn that silver bullets do not work on the undead werewolves unless you shoot them in the head. In the end, the werewolves kill the agents and the fighters with brutal fury and Chris stands alone against Marsha Quist who is joined by the zombie wolf versions of her brothers Eddie and T.C. with other werewolves starting to gather around. Marsha rubs it in that he has failed, and Chris is upset that he knows death is near and that he did not get revenge for Terry and Karen… and with that the werewolves attack and kill Chris. Moments later Marsha is holding the head of Chris and tells the werewolves that their time to rule is at hand once more.

The Howling comic mini series ends with a loud howl at the moon as the werewolves come together both alive and dead ones and they have a new queen with Marsha Quist who wants them all to rise up against humans and rule the world once more. The plot of this issue has Chris thinking he will be a hero and save the life of a newly made friend in his quest to expose the world that werewolves are real only to find out she is one and then must face off with Marsha Quist, the sister of two of the werewolves he killed off in the film. Throughout the series Chris Halloran is a man who is haunted by the past of having to kill his close friend on TV as well of the loss of the love of his life all because of werewolves. He tries his best to uncover why people in Government and his former employer the news station is covering everything up, only to be tricked himself and lead to his death that is very brutal by the hands and fangs of the beasts he wanted to warn the world of. Chris is a hero that the world needed and never got to know that he was around and trying to save them from a doom that is now on its way. Donna aka Ruth is a female werewolf who tricks our hero into thinking she is a former F.B.I. agent who is also trying to expose the world to the facts of that the beasts are real, but really her husband who was also a werewolf was killed by Chris in the film and she wants revenge as well. The Government Agents and the Freedom Fighters are two well armed groups that are at war with each other and both have interest in the werewolves, and while they are ready to protect themselves and have the right tools of the trade to stop the werewolves, they are not ready for the zombie werewolves that make short work of these would be heroes. Marsha Quist is savage and is so filled with revenge that she comes up with a plan that works and also makes it that she is the new Queen of the Werewolves! The comic is as bloody as the others as humans are bit, shot and torn apart and delivers some really good gory moments. The cover for this issue is pretty dang eye catching and shows Marsha and her werewolf brothers looking super deadly, and the interior art done by Jason Johnson is great stuff and he was the right choice to do this comic series. I am very surprised as I find that Space Goat did a great job on bringing The Howling to the world of comic books and delivered a good quick paced story that adds onto the lore of the film. Check out the art below to see the style of Jason Johnson.

The Howling is one of the best werewolf films of the 80s and our next update will showcase one of the best zombie films from the 70s as for the Halloween update we will be taking a look at the Fulci film Zombie 2 and the Eibon Press mini series based on it! I hope these horror themed updates up to this point have help make your 2020 Halloween season a little better as it’s clear that the virus crisis really has put a damper on the year and has stopped many the normal events and activities that take place during this time of the year. I hope The Howling update has you howling at the moon, and until next time, read a Horror Comic or three, watch a Horror Movie or two and as always support your local Horror Host! See you next time as we Alert The Crew…The Boat Can Leave Now!

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