We recently talked to Virginia native Alexandra H., the creator of #BIPOCWerewolf Day, which takes place on Wednesday, Oct. 20!
Midwest BSFA: How did you come up with the idea for #BIPOCWerewolfDay?
AH: After seeing the reception for Black fae, BIPOC vamp, and Black mermaid days, I wanted to have the werewolves have their own, too. I debated about it a lot about actually doing it…not sure how people will take it. Werewolf media hasn’t always been the best and many werewolf fans have to fall back on creating their own stories and works to make up for it.
Of course, there’s always #werewolfwednesday on Twitter, but I felt that it wasn’t enough for BIPOC content creators to explore or do more with the genre. And ironically, I wanted the day to happen on a full moon like the Hunter’s Moon on the 20th. This year, it is more spur-of-the-moment, but I want it to be a thing for werewolves and other werecreatures alike next year.
Midwest BSFA: Who are some of your favorite werewolf characters, and why?
AH: My favorite werewolf characters are Oz from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. As much as I take issues with the costume direction they did in later seasons, I found Oz’s chill personality and trying to balance the beast within. Plus, he’s a bassist. The werewolves (“not swearwolves” :V) from What We Do in the Shadows are also my favorite because they are both a great satirical look and outside the typical scope of “RAWR RAWR MAUL” wolf we see in most media.
Midwest BSFA: What do you think keeps more people of color from getting involved in fantasy?
AH: Unfortunately, fantasy, especially werewolf fiction, is VERY Eurocentric and revolves around white cis dude-centric stories where BIPOC are treated as caricatures. The werewolf genre is, in some retrospect, considered to be a white-centered space where most of the lore and mythos come from countries in Europe. So a lot of the stories we get for werewolves are often centered around a white protagonist.
It doesn’t stop there either. The White Wolf TTRPGs have a broader scope to werewolves and other changing breeds, but it’s also written through the lens of white folks when it comes to portraying BIPOC-coded Garou. While Werewolf: The Apocalypse and Werewolf: The Forsaken have a special place in my heart, and I will forever rep the Glass Walkers, the games have a lot of inappropriate content, such as European tribes are coded as benevolent heroes. In contrast, the Indigenous coded tribes are seen as antagonistic, and the Bone Gnawers, originating from Northern Africa, as problematic Black stereotypes. There’s a lot to unpack.
Lycanthropy doesn’t have its roots solely in European folklore. Different cultures worldwide have their own stories, legends, and tales about werewolves and other werecreatures; we only see the European side of the story because that is the most known throughout the world.
Midwest BSFA: What do you hope to achieve with #BIPOCWerewolfDay?
AH: I want to showcase more werewolf artists, especially BIPOC artists and creatives, who are huge fans of the werewolf genre but feel it lacks that they can count diverse stories on two hands or less. I also want to do more next year to make it a bigger and better thing—and I wish to ensure that other creatives have more time to plan and put their best foot forward to show off the beast within and howl. One of those things is drafting up more resources and a site people can visit outside of Facebook and Instagram.
Midwest BSFA: Did you consider yourself a costumer or cosplayer? If so, how’d you get into cosplay?
AH: A bit of both. I developed an interest when I attended my first convention in Richmond. After that, I tried my hand at it with a friend I met in college for the first time. Years later, I wanted to push myself a bit harder and joined one of the Lucas Film Licensed Star wars costuming clubs. The Mandalorian Mercs were a significant influence driving me as a Star Wars costumer. I learned a lot from them and currently employ them in other cosplays I work on.
Midwest BSFA: How has the pandemic affected your creativity?
AH: After getting furloughed and lost my job due to COVID, I had to try to do something to stave off boredom and despondency, and I pushed myself a lot harder to work on things I never had much time for. I invested in my own 3D printer since I used my work’s 3D printers, and I was musing the prospect of getting my own. It took a world plague to press the “buy” button.
I also invested in a sewing machine when I had to take a couple of theater electives in college this past semester. I spent a lot of time sewing cosplay things since I had nothing but time between the spring and fall semesters. My theater professor also pushed me to learn more about stage makeup while taking one of her independent studies classes, and I plan to take her class in the spring.
Midwest BSFA: Anything else you want our readers to know?
AH: Initially, I wanted to postpone it due to backlash and that it took people away from BIPOC Witch Day [Oct. 23 & 24], and I didn’t want to steal their magic. There were criticisms that it was too soon with too many events overlapping, and not everyone could participate due to an oversaturation of events. While I have some thoughts about just making it for next year, the reception for this year means that it will happen regardless. If the people decide it will, and they want to do it, I say do it! I hope to see people using the #bipocwerewolfday and #bipocwerewolf tags, and I will share your work for werewolf Twitter to see!
If people can’t participate and want more werewolf content to browse through beforehand, I highly suggest looking at the #werewolfwednesday tag on twitter. There are a lot of werewolf artists that post their work that day. There’s always the next hunter’s moon on Oct. 9th, 2022, too, if folks want to plan on doing something bigger, better, and beastlier.
Also, a good friend of mine who goes by EvilViergacht created the werewolf art prompt called #awootober, a list of prompts if you draw a lot of werewolves and need a direction on what to do draw. Check out that tag, too!
Be sure to follow Alexandra on Instagram for #BIPOCWerewolfDay updates!