Horror fans can spot each other in a crowd. Sometimes it’s by whether a horror icon like Freddy or Jason adorns their shirt or is plastered on their vehicle’s window in sticker form. Horror fans can also spot each other by what they say, whether it’s discussing the films that make up the horror genre or specific lines from these films. Horror fans who happen to be creators will also let their love for horror slip into their work; some even allow it to permeate in very meta ways. The book Evil Cast, Vol. 1, by writer and podcaster Kyle Stück and artist Enrico Orlandi, is a supernatural romp that serves as a fitting, almost gushing, love letter to the genre.
This is one instance where the writer literally injects himself (and his fellow podcast host) into the story. Kyle and his partner Noah Baslé, in the real world, do the Humming Fools podcast that interviews artists and creatives. In the Evil Cast universe, they host a podcast that is dedicated to debunking supernatural phenomena. Then, Noah starts having dreams which pull both men into a world just beyond our perception. They are both quite familiar with the tropes that make up horror movies, but what happens to all their knowledge when the tropes become real?
Stück’s story attempts to ask that question as the two podcasters find themselves ill-equipped to handle the strangeness they’ve fallen into yet are also the only ones around to deal with it. The comic isn’t necessarily original, but it doesn’t need to be. The entire world that Kyle and Noah occupy is built with the bricks of modern and classic horror references. Even the setup of Kyle and Noah investigating the supernatural feels like an episode of ‘90s hit The X-Files, except there are no FBI agents and both men are the skeptics. The rest of this volume’s story is both men being fish out of water until they slowly realize that the stories they discussed and dismantled on their podcast might have had more truth than they originally thought.
As they embark on their odyssey into the unknown, the tone of the book becomes readily apparent, having less to do with the movies referenced in the variant covers expertly drawn by Orlandi. It has more to do with the classic cartoon Scooby-Doo, which featured a group of kids and their talking dog solving mysteries (Admittedly, younger and perhaps hipper fans will probably think of Buffy the Vampire Slayer). The horrors encountered by Kyle and Noah are harrowing but the humor elements keep the terror from becoming too oppressive. The banter of Kyle and Noah is so fast-paced, reading their exchanges sometimes feels like watching a competitive tennis match, but Orlandi’s art style also keeps the story moving. The artwork is similar to what Mike Mignola did for Hellboy, but the brighter colors help the book strike the appropriate balance among comedy, horror, and action-adventure.
To say that this book is for horror fans feels like saying the blood in this book’s pages is red. Librarians looking to cater to the diehard horror hounds among their patrons should give this book a look. Continuing volumes will hopefully flesh out the story that looks to remain a fun dark ride.
Evil Cast Vol. 1
By Kyle Stück
Art by Enrico Orlandi
Markosia Enterprises, 2023
NFNT Age Recommendation: Adult (18+), Older Teen (16-18)
Creator Representation: Ecuadorian,
Character Representation: Ecuadorian,