The Evil Within 2 – The Minds Behind the Comic

July 25, 2017

Sebastian Castellanos does not lead a very charmed life. His family has been torn apart, all of his friends are either dead or missing, and he’s currently “between jobs.” Oh, and he got thrown into a hellish nightmare world and no one will believe his story, which has driven him just a little bit crazy. But before he lost his job, when he was still a detective at the Krimson City Police Department, he found himself working on a very unusual case – one that just might be tied to his misfortunes at Beacon Mental Hospital. The Evil Within comic series takes place before the events of The Evil Within 2 and tells the story of this bizarre case. We spoke with comic author Ryan O’Sullivan (Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War III, Turncoat) and artists Damien Worm (The October Faction) and Szymon Kudranski (30 Days of Night Annual, Spawn) about working on The Evil Within and bridging the gap between the two games. The first issue of the comic will be available on September 6, and The Evil Within 2 is coming on Friday the 13th in October 2017 on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC.

TEW2 ComicBook VariantCovers 730x549 Featured above are issue #1 variant covers

Tell us about your horror history?

RYAN:
I startle easily, which either makes me the perfect fan of horror or the worst fan of horror. Hitchcock is a fave; I think I've seen most of his movies several times over, which is odd for me. I'm not a particularly big film buff but I think it's the way Hitchcock gets into your mind and controls you that really speaks to me. Similarly, I'm a big fan of the Saw films, because they're almost the anti-Hitchcock. They're gore, and conspiracy, and shamelessly pop-culture. The first Evil Within game drew from both influences, I felt, so sensibilities-wise it was right up my alley!

Outside of film, I'm a big horror buff too. Gothic novel classics such as Frankenstein and Dracula have had a significant impact on me. Comics haven't so much, as there's not that many horror comics out there I'd consider genuinely terrifying (most of them are just adventure comics with a horror aesthetic). Manga, on the other hand, can be bloody terrifying. Junji Ito is a huge influence of mine. Many of the techniques he used in his work are like The Evil Within. I also enjoy the work of Kuzuo Umenzu, but haven't read as much of it as I would have liked.

DAMIEN:
I've been drawing horror comics for the last 4 years. Before that, I remember myself only drawing macabre and horrific creatures. I'm very comfortable with horror genre. It's totally my thing!

SZYMON:
Horror is very creative genre that has captured me since an early age. Beside emotions and building tension, it has to be appealing visually. Creatively, it's a challenge.

What about horror games?

RYAN:
The Resident Evils, the Silent Hills, The Dead Spaces, the System Shocks, Alone in the Dark, Amnesia, whatever those bastard Slenderman games were called. I've played pretty much every horror staple. A mixture of survival horror and just pure narrative terror is where my sensibilities tend to lie. The Evil Within was pretty much made for me.

Horror games are just so much more frightening than any other medium. I think it's because it's the most active: you're in the game, physically reacting to things that are terrifying, whereas with books, manga, or film you're much more passive. I'm excited to see what sort of horror games the VR revolution is going to bring.

DAMIEN:
I've always been a huge fan of horror games. Survival horror, adventure horror and stuff. There are some titles of the genre that are real works of art, The Evil Within included.

SZYMON:
My first horror game experience was with Resident Evil. It hooked me to the genre. Another one of my favorites was Silent Hill and then Dino Crisis. It was the end of 90's, and horror games were pulling you in with their frantic stories. A fun experience for every teenager.

Did you know much about The Evil Within when you started working on this project?

RYAN:
Big time. It felt like every horror videogame I'd ever played rolled into one. It's definitely the king of the horror games for me right now. Having grown up playing a lot of Resident Evil, it certainly felt like the spiritual successor. So, there was a huge nostalgia factor for me too.

DAMIEN:
Sure! I played the game and finished multiple times and loved it. I remember the day it was announced and I was so excited.

SZYMON:
When I heard Shinji Mikami was involved, I played The Evil Within when it first came out, and loved it.

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Where in The Evil Within’s timeline does this story take place? What is it about?

RYAN:
The Evil Within comic takes place between The Evil Within and The Evil Within 2. It follows Sebastian as he tracks a serial killer who is murdering people in the style of Ruvik (which makes no sense... Ruvik was murdering people inside STEM - so how could this new killer be doing the same thing in the real world?). The comic is a standalone story, and I wanted it to be something personal, away from the larger conspiratorial over-arching stories of the two games.

I wanted to explore Sebastian's mind. I wanted to know how he dealt with the events of the first game. He was walking around inside someone else's head, fighting monsters, and constantly on the run for his life. What does that do to someone? How does he react to that? I know the second game jumps straight back into the action, so I thought a comic series that gave Sebastian a breather and chance to reflect would be interesting. Of course, we're not letting him have too much of a breather – he's still got a serial killer to hunt down!

Do you have a favorite scene or character in the comic?

RYAN:
Sebastian is by far my favorite character in the comic. The entire series is based on the notion that it might all be happening in his head. You can't play around in a fictional character's head without getting overly attached to them. I remember seeing the trailer for the second game, after having finished all the scripts for the comic, and I found myself rooting for Sebastian in a way I don't normally for videogame characters. I hope he gets a happy ending. He's been through so much.

I know Shinji Mikami is a big Inception fan, and it shows in The Evil Within. My favorite scenes from the game were the early ones, where everything was out of order, and transitions between scenes were all out of order from a linear narrative perspective. The idea that we, the players, had to piece it all together, that was the bit I liked the most. It felt very dream-like, very much like you were in someone else's mind. So, the parts in the comic where I was able to replicate this are probably my favorites.

DAMIEN:
I must say the scenes with The Keeper. I liked the scenes in the burning mansion too.

SZYMON:
The "Shed" scene.

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Do you ever have weird nightmares when working on horror projects? Anything specifically related to The Evil Within?

RYAN:
Not a nightmare as such, but I did have an odd experience. After being brought on board to write the comic I decided to play the game again as a refresher (I hadn't played it since it first came out a couple years ago). It took a few days, but playing videogames for work is a life goal, so it was worth the time investment. I'd just finished playing a level at about 3am in the morning, turned off the laptop, walked (with my back to the wall, naturally) to my bed, and passed out. Or at least, I tried to.

I'm lying there in bed trying to let the nerves die down from having played a bloody terrifying game for about 10 hours straight and as I'm lying there, I hear what I can only assume is a bird crashing into my window. The bang didn't startle me, but what happened next did. The "bird" began to CLAW AT THE WINDOW for a solid 30 seconds! This wasn't terrifying; I had far too much adrenaline pumping through my veins to be scared. Plus, I'd been playing The Evil Within for 10 hours. My auto-response to something terrifying was to try and deny it was scaring me. So, I just laid there, listening to this bird-demon-creature scratch and claw at my window, lucidly aware that I should be a lot more terrified than I was. Eventually, the feathered bastard decided he/she had other innocent comic book writers to torment, and flew off. So, I did what any responsible adult would do: I went back to my laptop and fired up The Evil Within. It had come for me. The bird was a message. One that could not go unanswered.

I checked the window the next day, and sure enough, it was covered in scratch marks. The weird thing though, is that I checked it just now and it's not.

Maybe it was all in my head.

SZYMON:
You mean like this weird half-naked overweight guy in a ski mask staring at me through my window all the time while I was working on The Evil Within? Beside that... no. And honestly, The Evil Within is fun and entertaining. The true horror is... how the f&@$ will I pay the bills if I’ve already spent all my money on horror games and comics?

For more on The Evil Within 2, check out these videos and features:
The Evil Within 2 Story FAQ
The Evil Within 2 – “Survive” Gameplay Trailer
13 Things You Need to Know About The Evil Within 2
The Evil Within 2 – Return to the Nightmare