Interview With Actor David Dastmalchian About His Upcoming Comic Book COUNT CROWLEY
I recently had the privilege of interviewing actor David Dastmalchian about his upcoming comic book, Count Crowley. We know Dastmalchian from his many roles in the movie world of comics, as well as many other dramatic roles, including The Dark Knight, Prisoners, Ant-Man and its sequel, Gotham and The Flash, Blade Runner 2049, and the upcoming films Jay and Silent Bob Reboot, Dune, The Suicide Squad, and Disney+’s upcoming Marvel series, What If…?. Dastmalchian is a busy guy! But he made time to make a long time dream of his come true by writing his first comic book, and we got to hear about it.
Dastmalchian explained that his interest in comics all began when he was nine years old, and his father bought him his first comic book from the spinning rack at a convenience store. This was pretty out of character for his father, who didn’t have any interest in the world of comics, but it opened a magical world up to young David when he opened Avengers #249. It was all history after that. He couldn’t get enough of comics, and it was when he was 12 that he found his home in Clint’s Comics in Kansas City, Missouri. He took a deep dive into West Coast Avengers, Batman and Joker, horror comics like Tales From the Crypt, Morbius, Tomb of Dracula, and the classic Universal Monsters. He became obsessed.
When I asked him what gave him the inspiration for his own story, here’s what he had to say:
I, as a grown up, think I found what my story was really about, and it was about the demons without, but also within, and finding the hero that had to overcome seemingly insurmountable odds in burning every bridge so that no one believed in her anymore because of both her addiction and her battles with depression, which caused her to lash out. Her struggles, were struggles that I faced, and continue to face as an adult, and so I figured out what I wanted to write about, and then all that other stuff made sense to me, it was more than just set dressing. I found what I needed. The flesh and the bones and the blood of my monsters, and all of the visceral tissue that I wanted to be seen in homages to classic horror and comic books, I wanted there to be something under all of that, and I found it in Jerri.
He went on to describe the protagonist of the comic series, and what got his story off the ground:
Jerri Bartman is this character that I think has so much of me inside of her, as well as so many other people that I’m close to. So I came up with this idea, and then what happened, this miracle, I’ve had so many crazy miracles and good luck streaks happen in my work, being a comic book lover and collector, being able to work on the films and television projects that I have make every day seem sort of surreal, but um, I met with Peter Lenkov, who has been a great boss to me, and mentor, and he’s such a big force in nostalgic reimaginings of television shows, because he’s also a big comic book guy, and he and I had a familiar love of the classic TV series, “Kolchak: The Night Stalker,” and I was talking to him to get his advice, because I was thinking that Count Crowley: Reluctant Midnight Monster Hunter, was going to be an awesome television series, because I knew that I had years and years of stories and stories of plots and plots of characters, and deaths and births that I thought fit into the long format of television, but when I told him my idea, he first of all got very excited, which was awesome, and wanted to get involved in wanting to help me do something with it, which was a big honor to me, that someone at his level would be interested in my idea. And then he wanted to connect me with Mike Richardson and the people at Dark Horse, because Peter has a great relationship with them. It was really crazy because I didn’t know what was happening, and all of a sudden I was sitting in a meeting with everyone from dark horse, and they were asking how I felt about exploring Jerri’s character in the world of comics, and I was like, “do you know who you’re talking to?! You’re the kettle, I’m black, man, sign me up!”
He was then paired with editor Megan Walker and illustrator Lukas Ketner, who drew sketches that David immediately fell in love with. He said he originally imagined the character as a man until a couple of years ago, but changed his mind after thinking it over. He went on to say that the crafting of the character and story have gone hand in hand with his sobriety and mental health journey. He touts this experience as the most rewarding creative experience of his life so far and knows that’s saying a lot, as he credits the incredible experiences he’s had.
I went on to ask him how it feels to be on the short list of people that has crossed over to be a part of the MCU as well as the DCEU. He said:
Well, I mean, if you look at the medium as a big thing, I’m kind of a Trifecta now that I’m a part of Dark Horse. Isn’t that crazy?! It feels incredible. I’m so blessed. I’m just so lucky. As someone who has always dreamed of being an actor, that I get to play in these laboratories of masters. It’s such a dream. And I think of everything that I’ve learned working with and for people who are so incredible at their jobs, and I like to think that it has inspired, influenced and taught me a lot of things that I will hopefully bring to the creation of what I bring to the next steps in the creation of Count Crowley as well. Whether it will possibly go beyond the world of digital and paper comic books. It’s crazy to think about, I mean my first time ever being on a film set was in Chicago, about six blocks from Graham Crackers Comics, which was the shop I mostly did my shopping at. I worked as a telemarketer in a building right next to Graham Crackers on Michigan Avenue, and all of a sudden I was standing about six blocks from there, having been working in the theatre, and very proud of that, but my first film set, I was standing next to the greatest film portrayal of the greatest villain in modern mythology. I was standing next to the actor whose performance was going to end up changing the cinematic landscape, and the director who changed the game in how we look at these stories. I mean, you and your readers get it, but when someone says to me, what was it like working with Christopher Nolan? You have to have the whole context. You have to be with me as a nine year old in the comic book store, crying the first time I read “Death in the Family,” hating the joker so much, but loving him so much that I covered my walls with him as a kid. You know those dumb print your own t-shirts at the mall? My brother gave them to me with joker images all over them for my birthday. And I was standing there looking at him from a foot away.
I asked him if he could tell me anything about his upcoming role in Disney+’s upcoming animated Marvel series, What If…?, and he said that there’s really nothing he can tell me about anything happening next year (so that includes The Suicide Squad, which we figured), but he said he would love to come back and tell GeekTyrant everything he can once he’s allowed to. He said there’s really exciting elements that no one knows about, and it’s all really exciting, so we will have to have him back to discuss!
He went on to tell me about knowing his wife was the one when he saw her framed issues of The Dark Knight in her apartment, meeting Kevin Smith for the first time on a chance pedicure double date with their wives, seeing Count Crowley announced at San Diego Comic-Con on his birthday, and his hopes for speaking again in ten years about what Count Crowley has become.
David Dastmalchian is a delight, and Count Crowley looks like it’s going to be an amazing story with incredible characters and an amazing future ahead. Pick up your copy of Count Crowley: Reluctant Midnight Monster Hunter #1 wherever comics are sold on Wednesday, October 23rd, 2019.