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Webcomic / How to be a Werewolf

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How to be a Werewolf is a Webcomic by Shawn Lenore which started in February 2015. It updates Tuesdays and Wednesdays, and until early May 2018 periodically in chapters on Webtoons.

While on a camping trip with her parents as a child, Malaya Walters was bitten by a strange wolf. Everything seemed normal until the next full moon, when the girl turned into a werewolf. With her family's support, she kept the beast hidden by withdrawing from the world. Years later she only leaves the house to go to work at her father's coffee shop. However everything changes when a customer reveals himself to be a werewolf as well, and offers to teach Malaya how to be a werewolf. Soon the pair realize more is going on in the town than they realized.

How to be a Werewolf contains examples of:

  • Abusive Parents:
    • Connie Greensmith, who is in charge of the rogue werewolves, is a Faux Affably Evil version of this, constantly reminding her children how much she loves them and cares for them and how they need to obey her. This is despite the fact that she's using them as magic batteries. She also claims that the other werewolves and witches will kill them without her protection. None of them are buying what she's selling any more, but they know she'll kill them if they try to run.
    • Marin's ultra-conservative parents disowned her when they found out she was a lesbian.
    • Tom Yardley is deeply controlling and restrictive towards his daughter Ella, so much so that she and Lucas eventually run away from their pack.
  • All Myths Are True: Apparently there's "not much that's not real," but only witches and werewolves have been seen so far. Word of God says not many other creatures will be featured.
  • American Accents: Charlene is intended to have something of either a Cajun or Yat accent, due to having recently to Michigan from New Orleans.
  • Alt Text: Every page but the first two (and the first cover).
  • The Baby Trap: Flora/Connie tried to force her werewolf boyfriend to stay with her by letting her birth control spells lapse without telling him. He didn't appreciate it, but still tried to get her to accept help from his pack, since otherwise the pregnancy would kill her and then the baby would die anyway. Flora refused, and found another solution.
  • Big Brother Instinct: Despite being the younger sibling (though he is physically the big brother), Vincent has this for Malaya. Unusually for the trope, part of it is out of a fear that Malaya may hurt someone, or could be found out.
  • The Big Easy: Charlene, Malaya's employee and friend, is from here. She moved to Malaya's hometown in Michigan seemingly because she wanted see winter. In reality, it's a combination of two factors: 1) receiving a vision of Malaya as a werewolf that seemed somewhat important, and 2) having to lead her life as a normal meteorologist by day and a witch in a city full of witches and witch politics by night was tiring her out, and she needed a change.
  • Body Horror: The werewolf transformation may be a downplayed version of this, since although it doesn't look so bad, Malaya describes it as feeling like every bone in her body was breaking. Later on, Ginger also describes this feeling on the precipice of her first full transformation since her freedom from Connie's grip.
  • Bury Your Gays: Consciously averted; Word of God explicitly states that Marisa and Marin will survive both bodily and as a relationship to the end of the story, as the author is tired of this trope.
  • Casual Danger Dialogue: A general indicator of how odd/threatening various properly socialized werewolves do not find a situation. Marisa's habitual snark, however, stands out due to her Squishy Wizard status making her far slower and more breakable than any lycanthrope.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Malaya mentions a time she accidentally scarred her brother when they were children. It turns out this made him immune to the bite of a werewolf later on.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Let's be honest, it was inevitable that Marisa's witch-crush Flora Conradine would be showing up (as Connie no less), but Grandma Ziva Ross's foreshadowing was far more subtle.
  • Cool-Down Hug: Several in the story, and are much needed
  • Cute Little Fangs: All werewolves in fully human form. As they put their Game Face on, the fangs rapidly lose the "little".
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: Vincent towards Elias as their relationship progresses.
  • Equivalent Exchange: Every time a witch uses magic from the earth, they have to give something in return. If you take and take and don't give back, it doesn't end well. Connie finds this out the hard way once Aubrey and her pack are freed.
  • Familiar: Charlene's pet corvid, Alphonsus. Him perching on her fingertip is generally a sign she's entered serious mode.
  • Fascinating Eyebrow: Vincent's default expression besides a blank stare.
  • Fish out of Water: Once freed of Connie's control, Aubrey and her pack won't immediately nor easily adapt into the modern world.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: On Marin's phone you can see that right next to Marisa's name it has a "<3" next to her name.
  • Good Thing You Can Heal: Many werewolves stop worrying about getting hurt and revise their idea of serious damage over time. Elias in particular does not seem to have quite internalized how delicate humans are.
    Elias: I just need to heal a bit more... a little internal bleeding never killed anyone.
    Vincent: Um, it totally has...
  • Good Parents: Malaya's parents are very accepting and comforting towards their daughter after she becomes a werewolf, and when Elias offers to teach her more they encourage her to do whatever makes her happy.
  • Gaia's Vengeance: As witches get their magic from the earth in order to cast their spells, they're supposed to give it back once they're done with it. Otherwise, there will be repercussions, namely taking the magic back by force, with interest. If the witch in question still refuses to pay their debt, they will be consumed by the earth. Connie suffers this fate once she loses all of her werewolf "batteries".
  • Gratuitous Foreign Language: Malaya, Vincent, and their mother will occasionally speak to each other in Tagalog, since Dr. Dysangco Walters is Filipino and taught the language to her biracial children. It's usually translated directly into English inside angle brackets for the reader's benefit, but some phrases show up untranslated.
  • Green Thumb:
    • This is Flora Conradine's specialty. This turns out to extend to all organic matter, allowing her to take control of Ziva and jack into her own pack of werewolves (comprised of her own daughter as well as children she had brainwashed Ziva into turning) to use as magical batteries
    • A downplayed example with Vincent, who's studies lean somewhat towards botany.
  • Grocery Store Episode: Malaya goes grocery-shopping with Charlene, at the start of chapter 9 to show her personal growth from self-imposed shut-in to pack-leader.
  • Happily Married: Malaya's parents play this straight, with Marin and Marisa soon to follow.
  • Healing Hands: This is one of Marisa's personal specialties, on top of fixing things magically, and pairs nicely with her training as a nurse.
  • Hypnotic Eyes: Werewolf alphas can compel people with a gaze, but usually just enough to calm them down. Sara's mother is strong enough to paralyze werewolves, something that no one else has ever even heard of.
  • I Just Want to Be Normal: This is one of the major conflicts of the story; Malaya's werewolf powers bring her extreme anxiety, and keep her from living her life. She must embrace her werewolf side in order to master it and truly be herself.
  • I Need a Freaking Drink: This is Charlene's reaction to Connie's twisted past.
  • The Immune: Vincent getting clawed by Malaya as a child has proofed him against contracting lycanthropy from werewolf bites, leaving him to deal with the merely physical trauma. As Charlene put it, Malaya had inadvertently saved her brother, since if his body rejected the lycanthropic magic in his body, he would had eventually died from his bite becoming infected.
  • Jumped at the Call: When offered lycanthropy by Sara, Elias's mother, as a cure for her cancer, Marin gratefully accepts. She doesn't seem to regret the deal, taking much joy in her werewolf abilities.
  • Kryptonite Factor: Silver and wolfsbane can be used to prevent a werewolf from transforming or healing properly.
  • Locked Out of the Loop: Malaya and her family are unaware of many of the actual details of what it means to be a werewolf. The rogue werewolves aren't really much better, and they only know the most basic information so that their mother can control them better.
  • Living Battery: Connie takes advantage of werewolves' internal energy to power her magic now that the earth has rejected her.
  • Long-Lived: Due to their Healing Factor, werewolves can live for a very long time. It's unclear if they can ever die of old age at all, because once they get a bit older than a natural human lifespan, their wolf sides start taking over, and they leave to live out a second life in the wild as a wolf.
  • My Greatest Failure: For Malaya, this is attacking her younger brother Vincent with her werewolf claws out of jealousy as a child. It was so traumatic for her that she's absolutely terrified of her werewolf side hurting anyone ever again.
  • Nice Guy: Elias meets a strange werewolf who clearly has no idea what's going on and an immense fear of her powers, and helps her out purely out of the goodness of his heart.
  • "No Peeking!" Request: Ella teasingly asks this of Lucas when she's putting her clothes back on in this strip.
  • One Super, One Power Set: Werewolves are "internal" magic users (their power comes from themselves) and witches are "external" magic users (their power comes from something else, typically the Earth). It's impossible to be both. This also makes it very dangerous for a witch to bear a werewolf child, as the fetus can't properly grow its own magic and tries to feed off the mother.
  • Our Werewolves Are Different: They're like yogurt! It's explained that in order to create a werewolf, a werewolf bites a person, thus "seeding" them with magic. The magic grows with each full moon, turning the person into a werewolf.
  • Our Witches Are Different: Apart from werewolves, the series features these. Witches draw their power from the earth, and must return it, or face dire consequences. Even if two witches marry and have children together, those children aren't guaranteed to be witches. Several witches are seen in the series, and all have their own unique power sets and visualizations for their magic:
    • Marisa's magic is based around healing and repairing things, and is visualized as light blue geometric patterns based around circles.
    • Flora Conradine's magic is based around the manipulation of plants and biological material, and is visualized as glowing green vines.
    • Charlene's magic is mostly focused around illusions, and when it's not manifesting as a particular image, it is visualized as pink smoke.
  • Parental Obliviousness: Averted with Malaya's family, which is unusual for the genre; her parents have been aware that she was a werewolf since the first time she changed, and their presence was a major factor in giving her wolf side some level of grounding.
  • People Puppet: Flora/Connie discovered that, after desperately reaching for more of Ziva's power after having Aubrey, she can fuse with and control werewolves she's connected to. This includes Ziva (Elias's grandmother), and Connie was controlling Ziva when Ziva bit Malaya. Later, this power is used to keep Aubrey's pack from straying too far from the abandoned house
  • Powered by a Forsaken Child: Connie's continued existence runs on werewolves; specifically, one alpha werewolf in the form of Elias's grandmother Ziva, her own daughter Aubery and all of Connie's abducted children. If Connie runs out of this energy, her wounds will reopen and she will die, and since the children are deeply connected to her thanks to her spells, they will die with her.
  • Psychometry: Charlene has this ability and uses it to relate Connie's past to the others after touching her coffee mug. It is considered distinct from her witch powerset, which is based around illusions.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Sara Ross, Elias's mother and alpha of the Ross Pack. She strives to lead her pack and do what is right, but is often held back by werewolf bureaucracy.
  • Reluctant Ruler: Everyone that is familiar with Werewolf society pegs Malaya as a budding Alpha (even before she pulled the Enthrallment trick by reflex). It freaks her out less than her worries about going on a man-eating rampage, but that is the best that can be said.
  • Shadow Archetype: Explicitly in play between Malaya and Aubrey.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Eli describes Vincent with a quick comparison to Spock the first time he describes him to Marisa and Marin. Later Vincent lends Eli Star Trek pajama pants.
    • When Eli is trying to figure out a starting point for teaching Malaya about werewolf things he comes to the conclusion she knows "jack shit", to which she responds "Oh wow, thanks Mr. Miyagi."
    • The Alt Text on page 507 is the Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure quote "Strange things are afoot at the Circle K".
  • Shown Their Work:
    • Werewolf packs work like real wolf packs, meaning that there is an alpha in charge but everyone else is mostly equal. It is specifically pointed out that the traditional view of wolves having a strict pecking order is based on outdated studies from captured wolves (in fact, captured wolves act quite a lot like humans in prison).
    • Likewise, a werewolf's animal instincts act more like a wild animal than a rampaging monster. They can easily pair-bond with humans and accept them into their pack, and they feel most comfortable in their designated territory.
    • Aubrey having a hard time moving on from her mother's death is fairly accurate to how abuse victim(s) may still care for their abusers despite what they did to the victim(s).
  • The Shut-In: Downplayed; Malaya is terrified of her power due to her injuring her brother as a child. As a result of that and the fact that werewolves are most comfortable in their own territory, Malaya only leaves the house to work in the coffee shop.
  • The Spock: Vincent is referred to as this in-universe at least once.
  • Statuesque Stunner: Even when not in werewolf form, Marin is a tall, beautiful lawyer. She's the tallest or second tallest of the main characters, with Elias as her only competition.
  • Superpowerful Genetics: As Marisa helpfully illustrates, both witch powers and lycanthropy are hereditary, with some interesting rules; the biological mother must either be a witch or a werewolf, since the fetus must have magic to feed off of as it grows. Two witches and two werewolves can also have human children, like Elias's sister Patty.
  • Unfortunate Search Results: Vincent mentions that his family has tried looking up werewolves on the internet to try to help Malaya, but that the results were weird, unsettling and unhelpful.
  • Unsound Effect: Interspersed with such gems as *Werewolf* for someone transforming into a fluffy werewolf form for comedy value, or *Customer Service* when Mal defuses Andrew and Elias' fight in this strip.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: Aubrey having trouble the most out of her pack with dealing with her mother's death (elaborated above).
  • Webcomic Time: Both the story of the comic and its publication have been ongoing since February 2015. The timeline of the story has reached August of the same year (as of chapter 12).
  • Wham Shot: Sara, alone in her house being covered in wolfsbane. So much so that the Alt Text for the page only said "Welp" instead the usual snark.
  • Younger Mentor, Older Disciple: This is Elias and Malaya's relationship; despite having been bitten 20 years prior to the time of the comic at age 5, Malaya knows next to nothing about what it means to be a werewolf. As such, it's up to Elias, who was born a werewolf, to offer Malaya guidance and teaching. This trope is averted with Marin and Marisa.