HONESTLY, I was all in when I read “Think Evil Dead meets Scooby-Doo” in the blurb description for Kyle Stück’s Evil Cast: Volume 1. [Kyle’s image is on the left. I love the shirt!] I’m a sucker for imaginative, striking cover artwork, and this definitely caught my eye. And yes, it totally reminds me of classic Saturday Morning Cartoons, especially ones like Scooby-Doo, Where Are You? and other Hanna Barbara spooky teen mysteries. Speaking of everyone’s favourite Great Dane, the cover gives me a touch of DC Comics’ excellent Scooby-Doo reimagined horror series Scooby Apocalypse, which is, as Shaggy would say, “groovy, man.” The playful nature of the cover’s imagery also conveys that nostalgic PG-13 80s horror feel but in graphic novel style. This is so up my alley.
Enrico Orlandi’s illustrations are fantastic: colourful, bold, and comedic when apropos. They’re detailed when the scene calls for it, but the use of colour-blocked backgrounds is applied when the action isn’t overt, and the conversational part of the story takes the forefront. And I think this works best for a story that isn’t meant to deliver like Halloween Kills but more like Gabriel Rodriguez’s work on Lock & Key. Orlandi’s illustrations definitely convey horror themes and tension without being overly graphic. The imagery remains expressive enough to appeal to a broad audience, not just horror fans. The scarcity of overt graphic violence makes this story approachable to readers who like horror’s eeriness and supernatural aspects but have a weaker stomach for blood and gore. Yes, it’s there—people lose limbs and heads—but it’s not brutal in the delivery. The illustrative, creatively humourous homage to classic horror movie posters peppered throughout Evil Cast: Volume 1 is a fabulous addition. Top-notch artwork that caters to us nostalgia lovers.
Using the best horror tropes, Stück’s story is engaging and entertaining occult fair, not overly complicated and done with a YA approach, which, as I stated previously, makes it broadly accessible. There are flesh-eating undead, dark magic users, religious warrior zealots, a supernatural-fighting Canadian Mountie, and so much more! No, it’s definitely not boring. A deliciously spooky mansion hides all sorts of secrets, making this read like a cool Hammer film. The banter between our two main protagonists, best friends Kyle and Noah, and between them and frenemy, sham “psychic” Ruby Spears (and I appreciate the nod to cartoon royalty Ruby-Spears) is hella enjoyable; a credit to Stück’s gift of writing conversational wit.
The only issue in the narrative for me is a single panel where Kyle apologizes to a female character for not having any “girl stuff” to give her as her wet clothes are drying. She responds by saying, “No worries. It’d be kinda weird if you did.” His response? “Right.” Would it be weird, especially in 2023? Maybe an ex-girlfriend left some. Perhaps he has a sister who sometimes stays with him. He may occasionally wear gender-variant clothing. Who knows these days. If anything is weird its the supernatural stuff all around you, not a potential skirt from Old Navy coming out of his closet. Kyle shouldn’t feel obligated to uncomfortably apologize or explain. This panel would not take anything away from the story if it wasn’t there. It’s time to retire dated gender-role stereotypes for non-LGBTQ characters to use as “awkward situational humour.”
Kyle Stück’s Evil Cast: Volume 1. with illustrations by Enrico Orlandi, is a fantastic start to a new horror/humour series. The story does end on a cliff-hanger, which leaves me hungry for more in the best way. Who needs Ash from Evil Dead when you have Kyle and Noah! Oh by the way, who knew you could get coupons for therapy sessions. Is there a Groupon option, Kyle? LOL Oh, one last thing. Best line in the entire comic? Noah to Kyle: “You’re the Daniel Day Lewis of our generation. But like… bad.” I wish I’d thought of this brilliant read first! [Above Image Credit: Kyle Stück. Art By Enrico Orlandi]
Evil Cast: Volume 1. is available for purchase at amazon.ca, amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, and Indigo/Chapters.
For more information about this author, follow Kyle Stück on Instagram. Also, check out his AmazonAuthorPage, website, and linktr.ee for more options.
For more information about illustrator Enrico Orlandi, follow him on Instagram. Also, check out his Behance Artist’s Page.