June 18, 2024

Review: The Werewolf at Dusk and Other Stories

The Werewolf at Dusk and Other Stories
Available now from Liveright
Review copy

Graphic novelist David Small's latest work is an anthology of three graphic short stories. One is written and illustrated by David Small; two are adaptations of existing short stories. All three are united by their use of monstrous creatures. (And, of course, the true monsters are humans.)

These stories tend toward a limited palette, mostly monochromatic blues with pops of red. The pages are constructed more like a picture book than a traditional graphic novel, with limited use of paneling and more narration than dialogue. The stylistic choices help tie these stories together visually as well as thematically. The Werewolf at Dusk and Other Stories is an anthology where I understand that throughline connecting the works.

The titular story is adapted from a story by Lincoln Michel. Lycanthropy as a metaphor for adolescence has become a cliche. This story takes that metaphor to the other end, exploring old age for an elderly werewolf. The pages that switch between the wolf as a young man and an old man are quite effective. He's a fascinating narrator, speaking of his nightmares of the moon even as he clearly misses the violence he used to inflict in those vital days.

"A Walk in the Old City" follows a burnt-out psychologist as he gets lost then saved by a seemingly friendly stranger. The sinister turn is perhaps obvious, but told with the glee of an entry in Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. (And, I must say, the blind man's disdain for the psychologist is entirely understandable, even if his methods are quite extreme.)

The final story in the anthology, "The Tiger in Vogue," adapts a story by Jean Ferry. I appreciated that David Small's foreword (and a note afterword) illuminate the more liberal changes he made to the story, mostly to help make the 1920's German setting clear to a modern audience (rather than a contemporary one). This story is the largest departure stylistically, but the violence threatening to break out is a familiar thread. This one also intrigued me into picking up the original short story. The complicity of the audience feels all too timely, even though the source material is the oldest in the anthology.

The Werewolf at Dusk and Other Stories is not a long read, at less than 200 pages. However, I did find each story thought-provoking.

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