By AL J. Vermette

When night falls and the moon is high, she hits the streets in search of
prey.  With long savage claws and ripping teeth, this She-wolf is on the
prowl, but its not human flesh she seeks tonight but a good time. She’s out
to show off one of the best werewolf suits ever created outside of
Hollywood itself.  For this she-wolf is artist Melita Curphy and she…yeah
that’s right boys (SHE) is the creator of the werewolf suit that you see
before you.  A woman after my own heart who is so into werewolves that
she herself (made) her own werewolf fur suit.  Now how cool is that?  And
this is no cute fuzzy little critter, nor is it sexy and all chicked out but one
scary ass creature who looks like it will rip your head off.  But when this
she-wolf dose go out, she is a hit at all party’s events and conventions and
any other place this big black wolf goes.  The moment I first saw Mel’s wolf
on I just knew I had to get an interview with her.  Its
damn good to know that werewolf lovers are not just a boys only club
anymore.  Mel you rock girl!!!

AL: When did you first discover your love for werewolves?
I'm not sure where i first saw werewolves but I remember being really
fascinated by them since i was pretty young.  I remember being really into animal
/human hybrid type characters as a kid with all the bizarre cartoons and games that
were coming out in the early 80's...  I guess I should blame Thunder cats, haha.  I
do remember seeing American Werewolf in London and The Howling and thinking
how awesome it would be to be able to turn into a monster.  I was never afraid of
werewolves, Freddy Krueger and Jason, I feared.  I just really wanted to be a
werewolf.  I got in big trouble with my mom for drawing werewolves all over some
church pamphlets during service on Sunday when i was about 8 or 9.  They worried
about my monster obsession a little being hardcore Christians.  I think for awhile
they thought I was going to grow up and join a satanic cult or something.  I was just
a weird kid is all, haha...

AL: The werewolf head and suit you created is just amazing, how did you
make it?
Thanks!  I used a plaster mask and built up foam and celluclay over it.  Then
made the jaw and hinged it to move.  Then just covered that in fur and trimmed it to
look realistic and added longer hair to the mane and stuff.  The teeth are made from
sculpey which I actually don't recommend using just because it's pretty heavy and
brittle.  Someone got really careless with the head once and allowed it to drop off of
a chair into the of the teeth flew off.  I was so pissed, I had to be at a
costume contest in an hour.  So yeah, sculpey isn't a great choice, haha.  I'll be
using plastic or something next time...

AL: How long did it take to make your werewolf and what was it like creating
Well, I started the head a few years ago.  I wanted to try to top my demon
costume I had built in 2005 so i began the werewolf.  However, a few things came up
such as relocating to the other side of the country and it got put on the backburner.  
Being a freelancer I literally can't afford to put much time into non paying or
personal work so the poor werewolf was ignored for awhile.  Then I finally got the
costume bug again and started to build it again last fall.  I'd say if i could work on it
every day all at once, I could have had it ready in about a month, maybe a few
weeks.  However from the very start to the very end, it took me about a year and a
half, haha!  Creating it was both fun and horrible.  It got really hot up in my little attic
studio and fake fur was everywhere.  I think the worst part was severely burning
myself with hot glue.  I still have two scars on my arm that I’m actually kind of proud
of...they make me think of my costume.  It hurt like crazy though.  I also hated
getting discouraged when certain parts didn’t' look right and having to redo them.  
But you can't let that stuff get you have to follow through and keep
plugging away until it looks right.  However, the first time I tried on the head my heart
jumped...i was so happy with it and was so excited to see my hard work turn into
something pretty awesome!

AL: Where do you go when you become the werewolf?
I usually go to conventions with it, though I did think about wearing it to a
concert.  The band had werewolves on their album cover but i re thought it and
figured it would be too nerdy and strange.  Plus drunk people and costumes in a
small space is always a terrible idea.  Although I did wear it to my group show gallery
opening here in Chicago and had things go just fine.  People got a kick out of it and
it was like wearing my own art.  I had also wanted to nerd it up and take it to the ren
fair but it's far too hot to do so.  Plus it's tough to drink mead in that thing...

AL: I bet you are the hit at all costume party's and the like.
Yeah I do okay, haha!  People at costume parties had great reactions this past
year and a lot of funny photos have been taken.  There's one of me playing Guitar
Hero at our Halloween party we hosted...though i can't actually play well because of
the oversize claws.  Funny story though: I entered my first costume contest last
October at a bar here in Chicago.  The audience loved me but I lost out to some
dork in a store bought Sloth mask from the Goonies.  Ugh, come on guys...

AL: How do people react to you when you are in the suit?
Mel: I get a lot of great reactions in it. Mostly "hey bro! Nice costume!" or "hey
wolfman!!" or they howl at me which is cute.  Haha, everyone assumes I'm a man.  
Some people have actually asked my boyfriend, when he's wrangling me, if he made
it.  He says "no my girlfreind made it.  That's a HER." Then they freak out so hard
and scream " YOURE A GIRL?  AND YOU MADE THAT?" .  I guess most people
assume that if you are a girl, you have to wear sexy costumes or that girls don't
build monsters. I enjoy changing their mind.

It's funny because people either get way into it or go out of their way to ignore it.  It
seems to be a hipster thing like "if I don't look at it, it won't come over here and
make me look uncool" or something.  But I can see them stealing glances.  Other
people want to shake my hand or hug me.  I'm actually a pretty friendly werewolf...
although when I make kids or even adults scream I LOVE it.  It's kind of perverse but
I really like being someone's monster and getting a real, honest fearful reaction.  
Some full grown women have refused to come near of course I chase them.  
However, if a kid goes into total meltdown I will leave or act scared or try to win them
over with a high five.

Some people act like jackasses and pull my fur or grab my's mostly older
women or frat boys that do that stuff.  I try to always have a wrangler to watch out
for me and make sure I don't get hurt or damaged.  Sometimes women hit on me
which is so ridiculous...I love to burst their bubble and tell them I’m a woman, haha.  
I did hand out candy in my old neighborhood as the werewolf.  SO much fun, kids
got really, really freaked and one had to be dragged from his hiding place by his
hood.  A few people had dogs and the dogs got very, very upset with me.  Glad they
were on leashes, I think I would have been in a little trouble...

AL: What other creatures have you created as well?
I also have a demon suit I built.  She is made of foam and celluclay and has a
full set of leather armor that I made.  She's also got hooves and digitigrade legs that
are similar to the wolf's. Her head got stolen last spring so now I am working on a
new, better head with help from some SFX friends.

AL: As an artist, what other methods of work do you work in other then
creature design?
I also make clothing and costume accessories like jewelry or armor pieces.  I
also paint and sculpt all kinds of fantasy/graphic type stuff but...yeah it's mostly
monsters, really.

AL: Where was the craziest place you took the werewolf to for fun?
Hmmm, I haven’t gone anywhere too nuts with the werewolf yet.  I guess a bar
would be the craziest place though it was a tame time.  Although I did go as the
demon to see Brendan Small of Dethklok go play before he was big.  It was at a
smaller bar in Austin during SXSW and people either loved me or did the hipster
ignore thing.  I thought it was pretty f-ing metal to have an armored demon show up
to see Dethklok music but whatever.  I ended up getting photographed with a group
of super skinny high heeled bikini models for something or was an odd
night.  If i was gay or a guy I guess that would have been pretty awesome, haha.  
The models all thought it was neat that a girl was in the demon suit.

AL: What are your all time most loved werewolf movies?
Hands down , American Werewolf in London.  Best looking werewolf, the face
of that thing is so INTENSE and angry!!  Best, most realistic transformation
sequence...I loved that they actually took comparative canine/human anatomy into
consideration.  It was funny and fun and gross and had a tragic ending...I love it so
much.  The sequel they made to that was terrible though, ugh.  The werewolves
looked like feral hog-monkeys and they even managed to mess up the
transformation sequence when the chick is changing in the sewer.  I'm pretty sure
they made her knee bend backwards because they didn't understand digitigrade
anatomy and then somehow she grew another knee in the middle of her thigh, it
made no sense at all.  It's been years since I saw that movie so maybe I'm wrong...
but I remember being really pissed about that.  Haha, sorry to nerd out ,there...I was
just so let down.  Dog Soldiers is pretty cool too and I do kind of like Ginger Snaps,
it was an odd one.  There really aren't many good werewolf movies out there.  I liked
the way the Van Helsing werewolves transformed, with ripping off their human skin.  
But the movie overall was pretty ugh.  The Underworld werewolves were also fun to
look at but I hate to admit it, i can't stand those movies, haha...

AL: For anyone out there reading this, what would you say to them if they
too would like to build their own werewolf or any creature suit?
I'd say go for it!!  We need more good monster costumes out there.  No
offense but I see so many costumes that are just copies of already existing
characters.  I respect the technical ability it takes but I also like to see original
character monster type stuff.  Just go make something up and have fun!  Costuming
is a blast!  If you make something over the top, make sure you have a handler,
someone to watch you and keep you safe from overexcited people.

AL: What other creature do you have on the drawing board next that you
would like to see brought to life as a full size costume?
Right now I plan to get the second version of the demon head ready.  After
that, I may create a suit of a monster in a Victorian styled suit and bowler hat or
some sort of made up post apocalyptic mutant costume that's not so heavy and
tough on my body.  Less fur and foam, the better!

AL: And Lastly, what's next for your werewolf and oh by the way does the
creature have a name?
I ‘m afraid he might be retired soon.  I just wore him at comic con and while he
was loved very much by the crowd, he's just so dangerously hot.  I should have
installed a fan or a cooling system but it's too late.  I'd rather move on to something
else for now, maybe bring him out for certain conventions or events.  I will probably
mount his head for display.  He doesn't have a name, he's just sort of a standard
werewolf.  I just call him the Wolf
For interview with
author Eric Brown on
new book Season of
click here