Interview: David Dastmalchian on Dark Horse’s Count Crowley: Reluctant Midnight Monster Hunter

Count Crowley: Reluctant Midnight Monster Hunter #1

Count Crowley: Reluctant Midnight Monster Hunter #1


You’ve seen actor David Dastmalchian in The Dark Knight, Ant-Man, MacGyver, The Flash, and much more. Now he comes to comics with Count Crowley: Reluctant Midnight Monster Hunter from Dark Horse. Dastmalchian recently shared the inside scoop on this fun new series with Westfield’s Roger Ash.

Westfield: What’s the genesis of the Count Crowley series?

David Dastmalchian: The first seeds of this story were planted back when I was a kid in Kansas City, sneaking downstairs to watch our local Creature Feature hostess, Crematia Mortem and the classic horror films that she would play on her show. I was enamored with monsters. The idea of monsters – both good and bad – filled my imagination. Around that same time I began my life-long passion for reading and collecting comic books. I was fascinated with mythology and creature lore, which led me to the creation of my own stories about monster hunters and the battle of good versus evil. As I grew up and began to study storytelling in many different forms I began to expand my understanding of “good” and “evil”. I began to really wrestle with questions that I had about the existence of evil in the world and the battles I was waging against my own demons of addiction and untreated depression. All of these ideas and stories began to connect to one another and I eventually came to the discovery of Jerri Bartman… aka Count Crowley!

David Dastmalchian, Svengoolie, and Crematia Mortem (photo)

David Dastmalchian, Svengoolie, and Crematia Mortem (photo)


Westfield: Are you a fan of the monster movie shows like Count Crowley?

Dastmalchian: I am a big fan of classic horror cinema and so the subculture of horror hosts and creature features is something that I have loved and appreciated since my childhood watching Crematia. When I moved to Chicago I discovered the incredible Svengoolie and I eventually began researching and learning about the hundreds of horror hosts that have entertained, frightened and introduced classic horror flicks to audiences. I love Vampira and the story behind Maila Nurmi’s journey with that character is both wonderful and sad. I have even created my own horror host persona and hope to some day have my own Creature Feature. And a side note that fills this horror geek with much joy – I have become friends with both Roberta Solomon (Crematia Mortem) and Rich Koz (Svengoolie) in recent years and they are important people in my life.


Westfield: What can readers look forward to in the book?

Dastmalchian: I’m so excited for readers to see and experience the monsters of Count Crowley. Jerri will come face to face with monsters that grow directly from the tradition of horror mythology that we are all familiar with… but there’s a twist! You see – all that we’ve been taught and told about monsters has been a lie. “Fake News”, if you will. A silver bullet isn’t going to stop a werewolf and wooden stakes won’t faze a vampire. In fact, killing or stopping the creatures of the night is MUCH more difficult than we’ve ever realized and they’ve been spinning false information into our society for generations. Lukas Ketner has brought my vision to such staggeringly stunning life! He has crafted creatures that look and move much like the monsters we know – and yet there is something new and terrifying about them that really leaps off the page. And I can’t wait for readers to meet Jerri. She is her own worst enemy. She’s filled with all of the emotions that make being a “grown-up” so difficult and yet there is a hero within. If she can just learn to overcome the darkness within herself she will be able to achieve her potential. I believe that’s true for all of us.

Westfield: Jerri Bartman is a fascinating character. What can you tell us about her?

Dastmalchian: Jerri is every person who ever had their dreams crushed. She’s everyone who struggled to hide their insecurity, their anxiety, their depression and shame. She’s riddled with pain and yet she’s a total and complete bad ass. She doesn’t realize that there is a warrior lurking within herself and her recklessly bad decision-making and self-destruction has kept that powerful person buried deep within. But fate has a way of revealing itself to us in the strangest of ways and, for Jerri, that comes when she reluctantly takes the job hosting a small TV station’s Friday night creature feature. Jerri’s passion has always been to work on television but as a respected, hard-hitting investigative journalist and news reporter. Putting on the cape and make-up of a local horror host is humiliating for her. Discovering that her predecessor was actually one of humanity’s last appointed monster hunters presents her with the knowledge that monsters aren’t only real but that she’s going to have to learn how to stop them if she wants to protect the people that she loves. Jerri has a lot of learning to do – just like me. I’ve been in recovery from addiction and treating my mental health for over seventeen years. I’ve known that monsters are real for much longer. And yet sometimes I feel like I’m just getting started on my path. I hope readers will care about Jerri as much as I do and come along with us on her journey.

Count Crowley: Reluctant Midnight Monster Hunter #2

Count Crowley: Reluctant Midnight Monster Hunter #2


Westfield: Who are some of the other characters readers will meet?

Dastmalchian: One of the most important characters in this world is the predecessor and mentor for Count Crowley, a man named Vincent Freis. Freis was a popular horror host in the 1950s and ‘60s who called himself “Vincent Frights” and, just like Count Crowley, was one of the Appointed. Vincent is now senile and living in a nursing home. When Jerri tracks him down for help she discovers that he’s also a male chauvinist who doesn’t believe that a woman could possibly be one of the Appointed. We will meet Jerri’s boss and best friend, Ben Bartman, who is struggling to keep believing in his unreliable and destructive sister. We’ll meet a werewolf named Steven, a mysterious cat named Marinus with a very specific agenda and a zombie named Dave… though in the world of Count Crowley, zombies are called “Billy’s” which is short for Bilatombia. Psychic Slaves. The walking corpses. They appear human but are far from it. We call them “Billy’s” for short.

Count Crowley: Reluctant Midnight Monster Hunter #3

Count Crowley: Reluctant Midnight Monster Hunter #3


Westfield: You’re working with artist Lukas Ketner on the book. What can you say about your collaboration?

Dastmalchian: My editor, Megan Walker, has done many incredible things for this comic. She’s brought in our incredible letterer (Frank Cvetkovic), our amazing colorist (Lauren Affe), has given me the kinds of notes that took my scripts to much deeper and greater levels of storytelling… but it was her suggestion of Lukas as our artist that really changed everything. He is the perfect artist for this series. His mastery of the tone and genre and nostalgic qualities that I wanted to be captured here is stunning. His ability to reflect Jerri’s complex emotional and psychological journey through expression and art is captivating. Working with Lukas on this series has been one of the great joys of my career in storytelling. Every new file he sends me is a gift. I can’t wait for readers to see this magic first-hand.

Svengoolie and David Dastmalchian

Svengoolie and David Dastmalchian


Westfield: Any closing comments?

Dastmalchian: I wandered into a comics shop called Clint’s in Kansas City when I was a kid and it changed my life. The opportunity to bring Jerri’s story to the pages of a comic with the support of Dark Horse and the incredible collaborators working on the series has been a dream and I hope that my gratitude for this opportunity will shine through on every page. I want my readers to experience a story that is totally new and unexpected while still tapping all of that joy and nostalgia we feel from classic comics and movies. I want you to know that these characters come from a real place within me and I’m proud and excited to share all of that with you. I want you to know and believe that the world is filled monsters – both good and bad – and that we can ally ourselves with the good monsters while defeating the bad ones. And most importantly, I want you to have an absolute blast entering and exploring the world of Count Crowley: Reluctant Midnight Monster Hunter!

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