AWESOME-tober-fest 2010: Stephen King’s Cycle of the Werewolf

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Alright, continuing on with werewolf novel week, this is a book you may actually have heard about (unlike the previous three days); Stephen King’s Cycle of the Werewolf.

Cycle of the Werewolf Cycle of the Werewolf 1st Ed

Stephen King’s famous werewolf novella (with illustrations by comics legend Bernie Wrightson) was published originally in hardback in 1983 (cover on right). The trade paperback would be released two years later in 1985 (cover on left).  The story began as an idea for a werewolf calendar.  King was asked to write twelve chapters of a werewolf story to coincide with the months of the calendar.  However, when the story became much longer than the calendar could accommodate, the project was dropped and the story was released on it’s own.

Bernie Wrightson werewolf art 1
(Via fantasy-ink.blogspot.com)

While somewhere between a short story and a novella (with a little graphic novel mixed in there), this is one of King’s most well-known but frequently forgotten works.  It is centered on the fictional town of Tarker’s Mills, Maine.  Strange events and killings begin happening on each full moon.  Townspeople say the killings are caused by a giant wolf or bear.  Other people say they have a serial killer and they start to call him The Full Moon Killer.  These killings go on for months.  Marty Coslaw, a boy in a wheelchair, encounters the creature in his backyard during the 4th of July.  He barely escapes, shooting a bottle rocket into it’s eye and injuring it.  When Halloween comes around, Marty goes trick-or-treating and is constantly on the lookout for someone with an injured left eye as he now believes it was a werewolf that he encountered.  Marty encounters a person with an injured left eye and begins writing anonymous letters telling the person that his secret has been discovered.  Marty continues the letters until December when he finally signs one of the letters with his own name.  On the next full moon the werewolf shows up to kill Marty and Marty uses two silver bullets he had his uncle make for him to kill the creature.  The cycle of the werewolf stops almost exactly 1 year from when it began.

This is a really good werewolf story.  What I like about it is the fact that it feels like the middle of a larger story.  We don’t know how the individual became a werewolf, nor do we know if all the normal “rules” apply to this werewolf.  We find out in the end that silver does kill it, but Marty took a big chance luring the werewolf to him because he was not 100% clear that silver would, in fact, kill it.  Then, everything seemingly returns to normal after the werewolf is killed, nothing is really left open for a sequel.  It’s a straightforward story that feels like the final 1/3 of a movie.  But, surprisingly, it didn’t bother me that I was missing 2/3 of the movie.  Definitely recommend this, especially to King fans that have never “got around” to reading it (like me).  Also, Bernie Wrightson’s artwork is extraordinary.  It really brings the story to life.  I bet the reason I didn’t mind the “missing” 2/3 of the story was because Wrightson did such a great job illustrating the scenes in this story.  Really, really great artwork.

Silver Bullet movie

As most everyone knows, this story was expanded and turned into the movie, Silver Bullet, starring Corey Haim and Gary Busey.  I’ll review that movie in a few weeks.


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Also, check out the blog Countdown to Halloween for more Halloween-y, bloggy AWESOMEness.

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5 Responses to “AWESOME-tober-fest 2010: Stephen King’s Cycle of the Werewolf”

  1. I’ll have to track this down and read it! Story sounds cool and Bernie’s art is amazing. Have never seen Silver Bullet, it’s going in the que right now!

  2. I love this book. Before my parents caved when I was 10 and let me start watching gory horror flicks, this book (and Fangoria magazine) were some of my first introductions to true gore. The Wrightson illustration of the slaughtered pigs was one that stays with me to this day…

  3. **ctupa – Yes, the art and story are very moody and complement each other very well. You will enjoy it.

    **Shawn – The illustration that always gets me is the one of the werewolf tearing off the face of the guy in the car. And I also loved Fangoria. I still have 3 or 4 issues from the late ’80s with cover stories on Predator and Nightmare on Elm Street 3.

  4. It’s funny… I don’t think I’ve ever actually read the book, but as a kid in 1989/90, I couldn’t get enough of Bernie Wrightson’s artwork! He stills blows me away even today, though I wish he did more, but back then it was like the holy grail supernatural comic book-esque visuals.

    I guess I should really go back and read it now, huh? 😉

    BTW- Silver Bullet is one of THE best King adaptations (IMO) alongside Carrie.

  5. I havent read this one, but you do make it sound good. I like King’s older work. I’ll have to grab a copy of Cycle of the Werewolf for my collection. I don’t remember seeing this one at the bookstore though. I had no idea it was a movie too.

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