WereWoofs by Joelle Sellner and Val Wise
New Paradigm Studios (December 21, 2021)
160 pages; $7.99 paperback
Reviewed by Joshua Gage
Joelle began her writing career as an advertising copywriter, creating award-winning campaigns for brands like In-N-Out Burger, Kleenex and Lexus. Since making the jump to screenwriting, she’s written several romantic comedy and family telefilms including Hallmark Channel’s Paris, Wine and Romance. Joelle has also written comics for Blizzard, DC, Marvel, and Dynamite Entertainment. Graphic novels for IDW/Lion Forge Comics include reboots of the NBC classic shows Saved By the Bell and Punky Brewster. Her newest graphic novel is the YA horror book, WereWoofs.
The small, Midwest town of Howlett was established, long ago, by werewolves. When ordinary humans came in, they drove the werewolves underground, but all that’s going to change when the pack alpha disappears and his nephew takes over. Working at the Paw Paw dog food mill gives him certain advantages, including corrupting the donated food at local animal shelters with the virus that creates werewolves.
In the meantime, the baby of the pack, Mara, is struggling in high school. She’s been branded the freak of the class and has no friends. When a pack of dogs from the shelter break free and attack her classmates, however, she instantly gains some friends, especially when they begin shifting into dogs themselves. Her knowledge of werewolves and werewolf training helps them bond, but that still doesn’t solve the mystery of the missing alpha nor what caused the dogs in the shelter to go crazy.
WereWoofs is a great YA graphic novel. There are horror elements, to be sure, but nothing too scary that a middle-grade or YA reader will be completely put off. Furthermore, the scenes of bullying and teasing in high school, as well as the problems with teachers, grades, crushes, etc. will connect well with a YA audience, as well as many adult readers. Val Wise’s cartoon style fits the narrative and the audience well, too. The characters are detailed enough to be realistic and not too cartoony, but they’re soft enough to not be overly realistic or scary; there’s an excellent balance that Wise has achieved with her art which only serves to propel the narrative further.
Overall, WereWoofs is a fun story about lycanthropy and high school. It’s not too graphic or over-the-top, but it’s also not too cheesy as to upset or put off any of its target readers. It’s a solid mystery, open-ended mystery tale combined with high school drama that makes for a fun read.